“Hey, Jelly Belly!” I can still hear those demeaning words that so irritated me. Off I would go chasing my neighbor “buddy” only to find once again that I was too heavy and too slow to catch him.
Such was my plight as a young adolescent man. My passion was to one day get even with my “buddy” and others like him who made fun of me for being overweight. I began to diet and lose weight; I lost 30 pounds in the summer of 1968. I began to exercise; running, lifting weights, doing sit-ups and push-ups became part of my daily regimen. It only took a couple of years before I was one of the strongest kids in the neighborhood and, while not the fastest, I could hold my own. It was payback time.
Payback! Get even! Show them! This passion controlled me for many years in my ascent to becoming a man. It wasn’t pretty.
I became a Christian while a freshman at Millersville State College in September 1973. I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior and began to experience a whole new way of living. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Corinthians 5:17).
Since then the Lord Jesus Christ has taught me that the passion that used to control me not only wasn’t pretty, it was flat-out ugly and despicable. He has taught me that his love for me needs to be the one reality that controls my passion. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and he died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf” (II Corinthians 5:14-15).
By his grace, Christ’s love for me is what controls my passion these days. He came to this Earth born of the virgin Mary. He walked in obedience to the father. He willingly was crucified for my sin and yours. He was buried, and on the third day, he rose again. He ascended to the right hand of the father as the king of kings and lord of lords. He is the messiah, the lord and the savior. He saves all who call upon him, forgiving their sins and making them children and friends of God forever.
The love of Christ is the controlling passion in my life. It is what makes me tick. It is my breath and my heartbeat. It is what compels me as a man, a husband, a dad and a granddad. I want to so live that others would see, believe and love the Lord Jesus Christ who so loves them.