Read a MORE Gamecocks Excerpt

Read a MORE Gamecocks Excerpt
Case of the Nerves

Read Mark 5:1-20.

“What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” (v. 7)

One surefire way to get rid of opening-day nerves is to drive in the game-winning run.

As the 2012 baseball season began on Feb. 17 before a full Carolina Stadium, head coach Ray Tanner had some advice for his newcomers. “You’ve got a packed house today and you’re playing your first game and you want to do well,” he said. “You can’t let your nerves get into it.”

Much easier said than done. In 2011, Peter Mooney broke in at shortstop after transferring from a community college where he played most of his games “in front of crowds that consisted primarily of family and friends.” “I was glancing around, thinking this is real life,” he said before the first home game of the season in front of more than 8,000 fans. “It was nerve-wracking.” Mooney settled down quite well; he hit .280 for the national champs.

In 2012, the first-timers included LB Dantzler at third base, Joey Pankake at shortstop, and Chase Vergason at second base. In all, Tanner started four freshman and two junior-college transfers.

Dantzler had expected that playing before a full house of rabid Gamecock fans would be a whole new ball game for him. After all, he had previously played his college ball at a school “that has more letters in its name than it has baseball fans in its stands.”

The VMI Keydets provided some tough opening-day competition. With the score 1-1, Dantzler came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and Evan Marzilli at second. He lined a single to center on a 0-2 count to score Marzilli. The 2-1 final was on the board.

Standing at first, Dantzler said after the game, “was pretty cool” as he looked around and saw “everybody going crazy.” So much for a case of the nerves.

We often can’t really explain why some situations make us nervous. Making a speech, for instance. Or being in the presence of a person we’d like to ask out.

We probably rarely if ever consider the possibility that we make other people nervous. Who in the world could be intimidated by us? Try this on for starters: Satan himself. Yep, that very demon of darkness that Hollywood repeatedly portrays as so powerful that goodness is helpless before him. That’s the one.

But we can make Satan nervous only if we stand before him with the power of Jesus Christ at our disposal. As Christians, we seem to understand that our basic mission is to further Jesus’ kingdom and change the world through emulating him in the way we live and love others. But do we appreciate that in truly living for Jesus, we are daily tormenting the very devil himself?

Satan and his lackeys quake helplessly in fear and nervousness before the power of almighty God that is in us through Jesus.

I had the butterflies and I’ve been doing it for a long time. -- Ray Tanner on opening day 2012

Nervous and apprehensive -- so stands Satan himself in the presence of a follower of Jesus.

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