When my wife and I married at twenty-three, we had no idea what it took to make a healthy and successful relationship. We were best friends and loved each other and thought that was enough, but anyone who has been married more than two years knows there is much more required in order to maintain a thriving long-term commitment.
As for me, I had to learn many of these lessons the hard way. For example, shortly after my second child was born, a visit to the doctor revealed the uncomfortable tightness I was having in my chest was actually being caused by stress. We also learned I had dangerously high triglyceride levels. Alarmed, the doctor informed me I was at risk of having a stroke within five years if I didn’t make some serious lifestyle changes, beginning with losing weight! However, I soon realized my health problems went much deeper than misaligned eating, working and sleeping habits.
Although I was a Christian, saved at a young age, I was not actively seeking The Lord and His direction for my life at this time. As a result, my life was unravelling before me. My health was horrible, my work was straining, my stress ran high and my family was in desperate need of Godly leadership. I had come to a point in my life where a serious and obvious decision had to be made. I could continue down the path I was on, where I was completely self absorbed, and risk losing my family and potentially my life, or I could seek help.
Thankfully, I realized the only one who could truly help me fix all the mess I had created was Jesus Christ. This stark realization drove me to my knees, begging for His help and forgiveness. It was then, I gave my life completely to Him.
Looking back, this period in time served as a literal “boot camp” in the Word of God and cemented the spiritual process I follow to this day. I couldn’t get enough Holy insight and revelation. We began attending worship regularly as a family, joined a Bible study class, and I devoured every biblically grounded preacher and teacher I could find through books and podcasts. I became a prolific reader, note taker and committed student of the Word. My mind became saturated with the Word of God, and in time, my old desires literally fell away and were replaced with new desires, Godly desires, such as learning what His purpose was for me as a husband, a father and His servant (Matthew 7:7).
I discovered the majesty of His Provision, Protection, Pastorship and Preparation, and how my role within my family as a believer in covenant with Christ was similar in the following ways:
To Provide for their spiritual needs in addition to their physical and mental well-being. Quite simply, we do this by maintaining priorities. In our work, home and personal life, we are to keep God first, always realizing that our primary “career” is to serve The Lord as we serve others. He then provides for us so that we can provide for others (Philippians 4:19). God is our source for everything, and our job, for example, is just one of countless resources He can use to provide for our means. We must avoid the trap of confusing any resource with the Source.
To Protect them from worldly and unGodly influences. Much like a filtration system used to purify water and air, we are to filtrate, or discern what we watch, listen to, read and allow in our homes as a family and individually (Psalms 91:14). We are then more effective in cementing our worldview and perspectives through God’s standards, not the world’s.
To Pastor them with truth from the Word and encourage their walk with The Lord (Isaiah 48:17). A simple way to accomplish this is by having morning devotions and evening prayer as a family, and by discussing the day and how biblical principles could be applied to the opportunities and challenges we faced, or will face in the coming days. We are helped in this effort by filling our hearts and minds with the biblical truths acquired through our consistent church attendance and personal study, which is then passed along to our families. Our true legacy is handing down a vibrant faith to future generations.
To Prepare them for daily life by nurturing biblical values, virtues and perspectives. We do this by ensuring we “walk the walk and talk the talk” in and outside our home without hypocrisy (Ephesians 2:10). We want to also arm our families with the character traits we all aspire to such as integrity, work ethic and generosity just to name a few, which then enables us to make greater impact for God and in our communities.
Today, my family possesses a deeper understanding of our biblical roles in marriage and as parents, and we have firmly placed Jesus Christ first and foremost in our lives. Also, and not surprisingly, my renewed commitment to Christ began impacting my health as well, as I became intentional on how I cared for “His temple” (1Corinthians 6:19). I lost fifty pounds, my triglycerides dropped to normal levels, and I exercise regularly.
Most importantly, we have been blessed with a holy home filled with holy hearts. We serve as active members in our church, where I serve as a deacon and have the tremendous joy of leading an adult Bible study. All of which is shared to help illustrate how the transformational love of God can take a flawed person and use them for His good. Consider – what is the greatest gift we have to give our family, and what will they most remember about us?
God answered my prayer and rescued my family. How? By first rescuing me from my sins and drastically altering the course and direction of my life; and it is my prayer that if you haven’t already, you will allow Him to save your life and your family too – for the Word of God is truly powerful and when mixed with faith, all things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9:23).