Everyone in this life seems to be on the search for something. A life with some sense of satisfaction. In 1965, the Rolling Stones penned the anthem I Can't Get No Satisfaction which vented the frustration of a generation desperately pursuing satifisfaction and happiness. The song still resonates with people today. Deep down, humans have an insatiable craving for it. The self help isle at your local book store is full of books claiming that by reading and following their method or mantra you will finally find happiness. Unfortunately, happiness is only fleeting and any sense of satisfaction garnered from this avenue of thinking leaves much more to be desired.
In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiates, Solomon speaks to this pursuit and comes up with a very insightful conclusion, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Wow - that sounds depressing but often this statement is misconstrued. Solomon used the word vanity thirty-eight times in Ecclesiastes as he wrote about life "under the sun." The word means "emptiness, futility, vapor, something that vanishes quickly and leaves nothing behind." From the human point of view life does indeed appear to be futile and it is often easy for us to get pessimistic. The Jewish write Sholom Aleichem once described life as "a blister on top of a tumor, and a boil on top of that." American poet Carl Sandburg compared life to "an onion - you peel it off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep." British playwright George Bernard Shaw said that life was "a series of inspired follies."
Like many going down the broad road that leads to destruction, I too searched for satisfaction and found only discontent and disillusion. I grew up in the Bible belt but only knew the bare minimum about this man called Jesus: He was a baby born in a manger, he grew up and taught and then died for my sins. I had no real concept of what that actually meant. I had friends that went to church regularly but none of them ever witnessed to me. It was just something that they did every Sunday.
One day, someone had asked my dad if we would like to attend a revival service at their church. He accepted and we went. Based on my recollection, which by now may be somewhat flawed due to the number of years it has been, there were several that attended the service that day. We sat down in the pew and we were eventually sandwiched in pretty tight, close to the center of the pew. It seemed like it was a packed house from my vantage point. I had never seen anything like it.
Finally, that night's speaker took the stage. He welcomed everyone to the service and then proceeded to preach like his life depended on it. His face turned red, sweat came pouring off of his brow, his voice strained as the gospel echoed throughout the sanctuary - it was a site to see. Before this, I had heard bits and pieces of the gospel here and there but his presentation struck a chord. In the midst of what was going on around me, I began to feel a tug at my soul. The Holy Spirit began to work on me, showing me my sin and telling me that Jesus was the only Way to rectify it. I began to see things from a spiritual perspective, an eternal perspective. I finally saw my need for a Savior. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my brother and father were feeling something similar. Shortly after that we gave our lives over to Christ and my father, brother and I were all baptized at the same time. It was an experience I will never forget. To be able to share something as special as following in obedience to Christ with your family is a true blessing.
I was on fire for Jesus for quite a while after that but once I went to college, Jesus took a back seat in my life. I knew that He had never left me, He kept constant watch over me but I had chosen to take control of my life and do my own thing. There were so many times that I had gotten myself into trouble but faithfully He was always there protecting me in His amazing providence. I ran with the wrong crowd for a time but He was still there, keeping me from dire consequences that could have ruined my life. In Deuteronomy 31:6, the Bible says that, "...for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you." In Hebrews 13:5-6, it reiterates that point again and follows it by saying that, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." We can count on Him to be consistent. He will always be the same. I know without a doubt that He will never leave me for any reason; not because of my sin, my selfishness, my stubbornness nor my rebelliousness. His faithfulness knows no bounds.
After I graduated college, I spent years in the workforce not thinking twice about what Jesus would have me do with my life. I knew that I was saved but I did nothing with that fact. I had what some have called "fire insurance." That was enough for me. I eventually met my wife through the church that my parents attended at the time and she showed me what a true Christian looked like. As things began to get serious, she wrote me a letter asking me about my faith and where I was with Jesus. I now had to own up to where I was spiritually, which was a far cry from where I needed to be. I made a commitment to her to refocus my life, rededicated my life to Christ and endeavored to get back on track. We married and are still happily married today.
As life raced on, I started a new job with a man that shed light on how much I did not know about being a faithful Christian. We discussed what it meant to be a Christian in today's society. We talked about the lost that were sitting in the pews, Sunday after Sunday, thinking that they were safe because they attended a church. They put in their time for God. They did their part and continued the rest of their week as if God did not really matter. I realized that I wasn't very much different in that respect. My first child, my boy, was soon to be born as well so something in my life needed to change. I had a responsibility to him and my wife to actually study the Bible, live by what it said and teach them according to what the Holy Spirit revealed to me through my time in the Word. My ferocity for getting serious with the Word was further enhanced by a book someone at our church recommended called, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. One of Tozer's comments hit home:
Millions call themselves by His name, it is true, and pay some token homage to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who or what is ABOVE, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choice he makes day after day throughout his life.
I had been one of the millions paying only homage to His name but no more, it was time to take action. It was time to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. So I began a four year daily venture into the Bible, soaking up everything that the Holy Spirit had for me. I found out how much I did not know about the Word of God. There were so many amazing things that were there for the taking and yet I had never bothered to look. I was compelled to tell others what I had learned. I began sharing the gospel with friends, family and especially strangers. I eventually started teaching classes and was eventually called by God into the ministry. Very reluctant at first, I saw the need for solid biblical teaching and preaching and gave in to His will for my life. We also added a beautiful little girl to our family. To me, there is no greater joy or responsibility in life than discipling your children into a life abiding in Christ.
Today I am thankful for what He has done with me in His ministry. I am currently the minister of education in our local church and thoroughly enjoy teaching and discipling Christians toward a closer relationship with their Lord and Savior. To teach someone and see that spark as they begin to understand something that is so beneficial to their life and to the lives of those around them encourages me beyond measure. To see families positively impacted by the gospel warms my heart. To see my family, my children, serve with compassion and a love for the lost is tremendous. I finally have an experiential understanding of what Paul meant when he said in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" God is good and for His glory my family and I will serve. Life is now seen from an eternal perspective. My satisfaction is in Him.
Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). The Apostle Paul declares "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV). Life is "not in vain" if it is lived according to the will of God and that ultimately is what Solomon was talking about in Ecclesiastes. Life only means something if it is in Him.