Many years ago, I read the biography of Lee Iacocca. Many people today will ask, “who is Lee Iacocca”. Iacocca was born of Italian immigrant parents in 1924 in the hills of Pennsylvania. He attended and graduated from Princeton University with a degree in engineering. He bounced around for a few years vocationally but finally landed a job with the Ford Motor Company. Since his degree was in engineering, Ford Company put him in the auto design department. Iacocca was extremely focused, difficult and determined, but his attitude was rewarded. It was in 1964 that he designed the now famous Ford Mustang. This car made Ford Motor millions of dollars along with other cars he had part in their design. As a result of his success, he found himself climbing the ladder of success in Ford Motor. Eventually, at mid-life, he found himself as COO of the auto giant. However, success can also be his undoing. He found himself at odds with Edsel Ford, who was chairman of the board. An internal civil war took place and Iacocca found himself demoted, with his office in a warehouse, where he sat at a steel desk on a folding chair, He lasted until noon of that day, when he walked out and said “goodbye” to Ford Motor.He did not stay unemployed for long. Chrysler Motor found him and soon he became chairman of the board for Chrysler. Chrysler was in deep financial trouble. Iacocca was the only man ever to approach the federal government to back a loan for 1.9 billion dollars to save the company. Amazingly, he succeeded and paid the loan off seven years ahead of schedule. It was Lee Iacocca who coined the phrase “a fire in your belly”. In his own words, he said, “a man is useless in leadership unless he has a fire in his belly”. What did he mean by those words? He meant that there must be an inner drive that pushes us beyond normalcy and helps us to break the barrier of normalcy. It was Chuck Yaeger who demonstrated that same drive when he with nothing but sheer determination, pushed his rocket plane to break the sound barrier

As I think on these things, I am reminded of another man who had a fire, but the fire was not in his belly, but in his bones. His story is told in the book of Jeremiah. He was a prophet to Judea during Judea’s final days of history. He was so persecuted, ridiculed and tormented that he determined that to speak to the Nation for God was not worth the torment he was going through. So, he decided to keep quiet. His story is told in Jeremiah 20:8-9, “for each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the Word of The Lord has resulted in reproach and division all day long. But, if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name”, Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up ion my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it.”

There is a difference between a “fire in the belly” to succeed, and a “fire in your bones” from the message of God.

Oliver Wendall Holmes says, “what lies behind us and what lays before us are a tiny matter compared to what lies within us”.

I have thought much about these matters. My concern is, “what is it that motivates us, that stokes our fire and gets us out of bed tomorrow to live a full and productive life? As I look around, I see too many people that have given up and there is no fire, either in their belly or in their bones. They have no or little hope for tomorrow. Our generation is way too casual.

I turn in the Bible to the words of Saint Paul in 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18. “Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is perishing, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at things that are seen, but the things that are not seen; for the things that we see are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal”.

I learn many things from these verses, but something that stands out to me today is what Paul calls in verse 16, “…the inner man…”. What is the “inner man”? Does it have anything to do with what Iacocca call “a fire in the belly” or what Jeremiah calls “…a fire in my bones…”? What is it that stokes the fire in my life that makes life worthwhile?

I do not have the space here to go into any detail, but God created all of us as tripartite beings. The Bible teaches me that I am comprised of body, soul, and spirit. My body is easily identified. This is what Paul says in verse 16 “…our outer man is perishing…”. He is talking about our body, the physical side of my being.

My body keeps me in contact with the world. I have the five senses that allow me to experience the environment I live in. But I also have a soul. That can be compared to my personality, emotions, and my ability to communicate with the world. We are all known to others through our personality. It would be interesting to be at our own funeral and listen to people describe how they define my life. But, lying deep within all of us is our spirit. This is what Paul calls “…the inner man…”.

This goes beyond what Iacocca calls “fire in the belly”. The inner man is where God dwells. This part of mankind was left as a vacuum in Genesis 3. It remains dead and empty, until we meet Christ, and He brings us to the Father. It is so important to keep this inner man alive and allow it to become the compass of my life. I leave you with a couple of points to ponder:

Are you aware of your inner man?

How do you nourish this inner man?

Can you define the power that motivates your life?

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