When I first started traveling around sharing my story I was at a Sunday evening service held by the South Broadway Baptist Church in Pittsburg, Kansas. Jennifer Knapp was just beginning her singing career, and I was asked to speak immediately after she sang.
Following the service a line formed as people exited the church. They greeted us, thanked us for coming, and were quickly on their way. As one college aged woman approached me, I could tell from the look on her face that she was overcome with emotion. When it came her turn to speak to me, she scanned up and down my body without saying a word or making eye contact. She was struggling to find the right words. To break the ice I said, “Hello, thank you for coming.”
She finally looked up at me and said, “You don’t have anything, yet you have everything. I want what you have.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. I was blown away. No one had ever said this to me. Quickly my mind scanned through the events of the past few years and I responded in agreement saying, “I know. It is amazing.”
At the time I didn’t realize how great of a work God had done in me. The more I thought about what she said, the more I realized what God had done. He had given a young man whose life was completely centered on what he could do physically, a whole new outlook. He had given me a gift; a gift that somehow allowed me to understand that these words were true. I did have everything, even though on the outside it seemed I had nothing.
I believe this is very similar to how Paul was feeling when he wrote Philippians 4:11b-13 “….for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
I have thought about these words many times over the years. I have even gained strength from them during times when I’ve become focused on all that I don’t have. Paul understood this was the “secret” to being content. The secret was knowing that in Christ he had everything he needed, even if, in this world, he had nothing.