From the time I was in high school, my life dream had been to become a professional fisherman. Most everything I did was for the purpose of becoming a better angler and trying to make a living in the sport. It was my life’s goal, my obsession. I thought that contentment and happiness would follow the successful fulfillment of this goal. As time went along, I began to experience success. I qualified for the Bassmasters Classic several times, won FLW Angler of the Year and several tour events. Before I knew it, I was able to support a family, enabling my wife to stay home with our two small daughters. But even with everything in my professional life going well, the contentment and happiness I thought this would bring were still missing.
In the professional bass fishing world, there are a number of great Christian men, Jay Yelas, Mark Davis, Alton Jones, and Randy Howell, just to name a few. I could tell there was something different about these anglers, a certain peace that I didn’t recognize in myself in spite of my success. At this point (1998), my wife asked me to listen to a sermon series while I traveled on the circuit. Through the series, I learned that I had an unfulfilled need, a need for a personal savior. It was at that time that I made the most important decision of my life. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
I realized that the Clark Wendlandt path to happiness and contentment (success in my career) never had a chance. God, who gave me the love and desire for the outdoors, also wanted me to become a professional fisherman, but not so that I could gain contentment and happiness through that, but so that I could experience His pleasure, and glorify Him through my God-given love of the outdoors.
I also discovered that there is something so much more than the happiness and contentment I had always been seeking. There is joy – joy that transcends circumstances. While I still experience life’s ups and downs, I am safely buoyed by an underlying joy that is secure and constant.