Rebellion hits every person at least once in his or her life. Mine hit as a sophomore in high school and continued till December of my junior year of high school. I was 16 years old and I had not only problems with disrespect towards women but also towards authority. My love for God was distant and there only because my parents were faithful to bring it into our house and to bring me to church every Sunday. Something happened in December. Basketball season was underway. Yes, sports were a big part of my life and at that time, it was more than just part of my life, it was nearly all of my life. My basketball coach sat me down one day to talk about my attitude and informed me that I will only be granted two technical fouls throughout the duration of the year. Only two technical fouls would result in me being kicked off the team. Fair enough, I thought, until a preseason basketball tournament through a stumbling block in my path: I received a technical foul in the semi-final game of the tournament. I had only one foul to go and I was off the team. I knew there needed to be an attitude change as soon as possible. At first I thought the change was just so I could play basketball for the season, but it ended up turning my life around and leading me on an unbelievable adventure with Jesus Christ.
I sat down with my assistant basketball coach, who was also our school counselor, and through a series of conversations of me getting out some personal anger and pride issues I changed slowly; it was an incredibly challenging process. However, by the end of my junior year I found a love for God that I never knew I had. I went into my senior year wanting to learn more about God and still a very passionate love for sports. I was being scouted by pro and college scouts for baseball and was expected to be very competitive in one of those arenas. No quicker than I could bat an eye my senior year was over. I had a serious girlfriend, who is now my wife, and the Kansas City Royals had drafted me in the third round. Off I went with a passion for Christ and an excitement to be a pro athlete.
I didn’t know how much of an advantage it was to make that change my junior year to love Jesus until that point in my life when I began my pro career. Being on my own was like a right hook to the face. The things I saw, the things that were expected of me, the things that it took to live in the world as a professional man. The challenges were too great for me to handle on my own, I needed someone to lean on, someone to give me the strength that I didn’t have. That was Jesus, that was my savior and that is who I love deeply. It was all worth it, my struggles in high school and my ups and downs; they turned out to be a process that turned a rebellious child into a lover of God. It was a means to an end. The end is not here yet. The means is loving God and depending on Him to make me the successful man he wants me to be. That is what I stand for, that is whom I am. I am not just a major league athlete; I am a lover of God. -Jeremy Affeldt