July 4, 1995. Madison, Indiana.
It was hot and I didn’t really want to be there. I think it was the only time I didn’t really want to play baseball.
It was the day I did one of the most foolish things I’ve ever done on a baseball field.
After warming up to pitch, I prepared to lead off the game for our Legion team. Drawing a walk, I trotted to first base, only to be subsequently picked off by the catcher. It’s embarrassing enough to be picked off by the pitcher, but the catcher is a different story. He’s 90 feet away!
Add that embarrassment to the heat, toss in a little disgust, and you have rage, which is what I felt toward myself, baseball, and that blazing sun as I walked back to the dugout.
My helmet was the first thing destroyed. It slammed against the block wall of the dugout, rendering it useless. But the anger didn’t subside with the destruction of the helmet.
Conveniently, there was a batting glove in my back right pocket, which was removed and thrown with full force at a perpendicular angle toward the dugout bench.
The pain was unbearable. I wanted to puke. I couldn’t speak.
“I think I just broke my finger,” was all I could whisper out to my teammate.
Two weeks later, a hand specialist reconstructed the middle knuckle of the middle finger on my throwing hand (I had shattered it into nearly ten pieces).
Proverbs 14:17 highlights my episode of stupidity: “A quick-tempered man acts foolishly…”
First, it’s true. Foolish behavior is what quick-tempered people exhibit. There’s just no way around it. I’ve always battled a quick-temper on the baseball field and it has inevitably led me to many foolish moments.
Second, it’s painful. Foolish behavior is painful, whether physical like mine or otherwise. It always leads to pain.
Third, it’s not manageable. A quick-temper isn’t something I can control. I’ve tried, trust me. Even a small amount of a quick-temper is too much. It’s not something I can simply manage.
Fourth, it’s dominating. My temper has literally controlled me at times, dominating my thoughts and emotions and, therefore, my actions.
Fifth, it’s unholy. God isn’t excusing my temper and its actions.
That’s the bad news. A quick temper will destroy you and potentially the things and people around you.
But I’ve also learned the good news about something else: the gospel.
First, it’s true. Jesus died to save me and deliver me from my quick temper. It was nailed to the cross with him.
Second, it’s heals the pain I cause. God’s grace is sufficient to put me back together after I fail.
Third, it shows me Jesus, who manages what I could never control. I die. He lives in me. He gives me self-control I can’t manufacture on my own.
Fourth, Jesus dominates when I surrender, and that’s the best thing that could ever happen.
Fifth, Jesus makes me holy. I don’t have to try to make up for my stupid mistakes. I simply trust in Jesus and I get his holiness to replace my foolishness.
Lord Jesus, take my temper, crucify it, and live through me. Amen.