For as long as I can remember, I loved sports. I was the first one knocking on a friend’s door early Saturday morning, hoping I didn’t wake their parents, but anxious to get to the park and start playing football or baseball or whatever the season was.
For as long as I can remember, I always loved God. My family was the first in church early on Sunday morning, dressed up and anxious to be inspired by the priest and partake in the service.
As I got older, I realized I was good at sports but not great, and after a horrible car accident on the way home from football practice in 11th grade, it wasn’t long before I knew that sports wouldn’t be a part of my future in the way that I’d hoped.
As I got older, I realized I was a good Christian but not great and after I graduated college I slowly began drifting away from church and it wasn’t long before I allowed Jesus to drift out of my life in a way I had always hoped He wouldn’t.
My thirst for sports landed me a job in journalism, covering the very athletes I grew up wishing I could be. It allowed me to go places and meet people that any diehard fan would dream of.
At the same time, my thirst for women and the athlete lifestyle led me farther and farther away from Jesus. It made it acceptable for me to go places and meet women any gregarious young man would dream of.
Here’s the problem. On the surface everything seemed great and appeared to be going in the right direction, but underneath I was lonely, unhappy and unfulfilled. As a journalist, I’d always kept a journal. And from time to time, I’d look back on my entries and realize that though the years passed, my problems did not. In terms of my career, there was always stress over work that didn’t pay much and had little job security. In my personal life, there were plenty of entries that spoke of women who didn’t give much but had plenty of insecurities.
And while the job titles and women’s names always changed, one thing remained consistent… Jesus was always there. Not where he should’ve been, certainly not in the center, yet always present, peeking around the corners every other page or so. Those five letters, His name, were my go-to when things looked really bleak. Those five letters I wrote, sometimes legibly and sometimes scratched after coming home filled with alcohol but feeling empty from a night on the town.
The job turned stale as the allure of interviewing the big names in the NFL was gone. But even worse was my love life. I was done. I was throwing the towel in on women, having ended a relationship with yet another one who loved herself more than she could love anybody else. So I said “That’s it.”
I accepted a job as an editor of a magazine working for a publisher, who was of all things, a former professional football player. That week I opened my journal and said, “Jesus I’m tired and I’m lonely and I know I’ve been terrible at picking women, but please send me somebody I could pour my heart into. Please send me an Angel.” I even signed it…David.
Then the story came. My publisher said, “I need you to do an article on this girl who just won a fitness competition. Here’s her contact information.”
“Great.” I thought, “Just what I need, another self-centered woman.” I went to the interview telling myself, “Don’t even look at her. Do your job and take notes with your head down.”
Thirty minutes into the interview, we were finished. But the conversation was just getting started. Her name was Angelike (almost Angel-Like) and she spoke to me a lot about God and Jesus.
That conversation begot another and another and another. Although Angelike and I began to take things to another level, my relationship with Jesus wasn’t moving at the same pace. Until one day it happened. I was reluctant to give up “my life with my boys” on the weekends and some bad habits and that was it, she was gone.
A stubborn and hardened heart is no place to cultivate love and mine was as hardened as they come. Hers, luckily, was full of kindness, patience and love. She came to me and said “David, the last thing the devil wants is for two people who love Jesus to come together and create a family. He will do everything he can to come between us and if you don’t realize that then you’re a fool.”
From that moment on, everything changed. I realized that indeed the devil would try hard and often to come between us and that a healthy relationship in God was what is necessary. Angelike and I began studying the bible together. We got married shortly after in God’s house and with him as the center of our ceremony.
Her opening me to the Word alerted me not only to the devil’s intentions but my stubbornness to realize that whether business or love there is only one answer, and Jesus is it. In our marriage I’ve noticed when we’ve prayed together, things are really good, and when we get distracted away from the Word, things get shaky. But we always identify it and make sure He is at the center.
About a year into our marriage I left journalism and my wife left her career in sales and we began a home-based business together. Like marriage, our business was challenging at times, but like our relationship we realized when we put God in the middle and focused on loving others that we would be rewarded.
I had always felt like a square peg in a round hole my entire career, never finding the perfect fit. But here we were, five years into our marriage, four years into our business, when we made our first million dollars. The path led me to the woman who led me to the business where I could use all the gifts God blessed me with to enhance the lives of those around me. We decided, like our marriage, that we wouldn’t allow God to paly a small role but rather praise him for everything he put in our path. In turn, he has given us a large platform to use our voices and we promised Him, way before our good fortune, that we’d always use it to glorify him.
Here’s the kicker, as our business grows, I continue to run into former athletes whom I end up bringing into the business and into the Word. Two of which have made a huge impact. The first, a former big league pitcher, has probably done more for my faith than anybody since my wife, educating me in the Word and making me thirst for Jesus like never before. The other, a massive, mountain of a man, and former NFL player, came to me one day, asking for lunch. Halfway through lunch, I said, “Hey man, what is this meeting really about? It’s not about work.” He responded, “You’re right, it’s about God, I see how you speak of him and want to know more.”
Now, the former pitcher, lineman and sportswriter get together every week (with our women) to do bible study. Funny how God works.
It’s always about God’s time. At 36, I was in a dead end job with no hope for a good woman in sight. By 39 I’d literally found my Angel and we were working on, we didn’t know at the time, what was a multi-million dollar business.
Never give up on prayer or God and he will always come with the right thing when the time is right. I strongly encourage all couples to read the word together and keep Him at the center of everything you do. No relationship is perfect but the answers are right there in the book.
As for business, be a visible man of God. I feel as if our cars are in the front of our house, our gold watches are in front of our handshake and our egos are often in front of our conversations. But tucked away somewhere way in the back is our faith, neatly folded in the shirt closet for Sundays only. That has to change.
Previously published in Faith Into Abundance: 30 Stories of Faith From Successful Christian Entrepreneurs
Photo: Getty Images