On May 1st, 1991, Nolan Ryan pitched his seventh no-hitter at the age of 44. He was already considered an elite player, owning the strikeout and no-hitter records, but that night made him a baseball legend. What is so amazing is that when he arrived at the ballpark that day he felt, by his own admission, horrible. He had had only four days rest since his previous start, a persistently stiff back, and he tore open scar tissue on his pitching hand while warming up. “It was a downer of a day physically,” Ryan said when was interviewed later that night.
His coaches were worried about him and had discussed the likelihood of removing him from the game early. When his manager, Bobby Valentine, asked Ryan how he thought his back would feel once the game started, Ryan replied that “it would be history.” How right he was.
What if Nolan Ryan, arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, had said to himself and his coaches, “I don’t feel like I will pitch my best today, so I might as well not even try”? If Ryan had been that kind of person I believe he would never have been able to set all the records that he did over his career. He knew one of the greatest secrets of life – your feelings don’t really count for much.
Now, if you’re reading this and wondering why I’m talking about feelings and baseball (for we all know there’s no crying in baseball!) allow me to ask you to read a bit further and consider a couple of wise words from King Solomon.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. (Proverbs 14:13, ESV)
11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11, ESV)
Hang on a second! Did Solomon just call me a fool?
What truth are these two verses teaching us? Since you can’t truly trust the feelings of your heart, for they can change in an instant, it is quite foolish to allow yourself to be controlled by your emotions.
Just like you, I know what it is like to feel overwhelmed and flooded with emotion. However, I make a huge mistake when I let those feelings set the course of my day by allowing them to determine what choices I make or attitudes I adopt. In truth, feelings are absolutely horrible prognosticators as to what we are actually capable of doing.
I bring this point up because I believe that many of us struggle with being controlled by how we’re feeling at any particular moment. If for some reason I’m feeling angry or frustrated and I allow those feelings to get the better or me, I’ll end up walking around with a scowl and a sharp tongue. If I’m feeling anxious or fearful I might hesitate to take that step of faith when God speaks. Scripture is reminding us that one mark of Godly maturity is to demonstrate self-control and to keep cool in emotionally difficult situations.
Today, focus less on what you’re feeling, for that is just temporary. Instead, make the commitment to do the things you know God has called you to do today no matter how you might be feeling. You’ll see that with the Lord’s help, you can accomplish mighty things if you’ll just try. Who knows? Today, you might make history.