It was painful to watch. Rick Ankiel, the promising rookie pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, who had dominated National League hitters for much of the 2000 season, couldn’t find the strike zone. Actually, it was worse than that. He wasn’t even close.

Inexplicably, in the Division Series against Atlanta, the only thing Ankiel could hit with his fastball was the backstop. He walked two in the first inning, but managed to escape with no runs allowed. He cruised in the second inning, again giving up no runs.

Then something happened in the third inning.

Walk. Pop out. Wild pitch. Wild pitch. Walk. Wild pitch. Strikeout. Walk. Wild pitch. Single. Wild pitch. Walk. Single.¹

Four walks. Five wild pitches.

It was unbelievable. And Ankiel was never the same. He never again regained the control he once had. His pitching career was essentially over.

Proverbs 25:28–“Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.”

Like a pitcher who has lost control of his fastball is a man whose emotions and thoughts fly wildly.

What does it look like to have no control over your spirit?

You are known for your anger.  Jesus got angry, but wasn’t known for it. Give your anger to him and ask him to direct it, change it, or eliminate it.

You have no filter. Words matter. Those who simply say whatever is on their minds aren’t noble or to be admired; they are careless. Only the power of Jesus can tame your tongue.

Your decisions lack conviction. A mind out of control is one that changes all the time, depending on which way the proverbial wind blows. Jesus can give you the fortitude to make decisions and stand by them.

You have destructive habits. To expect discipline out of those around you, while you lack it yourself, is simple and blatant hypocrisy. Beyond that, habits and addictions detrimental to your health and relationships aren’t just your cross to bear. They’re killing you and those around you.

And what results? You are like the city without defenses…your demise is only a matter of time. A pitcher who can’t throw strikes has no future, nor does the person who can’t control his spirit.

Lord Jesus, I’m tired of hitting the backstop with my mind and emotions. I surrender to your will today. Live through me. Amen.

¹ 2000 NLDS Game 1 Play-by-play