Repeatedly we are told in scripture that “Pride comes before a fall”. Well, let me tell you, that ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie!
Jesus performed one heck of a rear assault on my personality (my sense of self, my perception of self) these last few weeks. If you grew up around the ocean, you learned never to turn your back on it. Well, same principle here. Jesus snuck up and knocked me to the ground. I was so sure of my own self-control, I was so sure I had finally mastered my own internal pressures and triggers that I had convinced myself that those old problems no longer existed. Ha!
So I lost my cool at work. I mean lost it, big time. I was sputtering mad at my boss. I was fuming, I was self-righteously mad. And then it turns out I was wrong about the thing I was so mad about. I was so sure I was right, I hadn’t even doubled checked myself. The specifics aren’t important, just that the explosion trigger is what I thought I had “controlled.”
And as the waves of shock poured over me as I pondered the situation I heard a voice. It kept asking me: “What are you angry about?”
Another wave of guilt and frustration and embarrassment. “What are you angry about?”
A wave of self-pity and self-derision and self-loathing. “What are you angry about?”
A wave of confusion and doubt and denial. “What are you angry about?”
“What are you angry about?” “What are you angry about?” “What are you angry about?” This voice, this thought hounded me.
What was I angry about? Was I angry about work? Was I angry about some perceived slight from growing up? For the other troubles and trials of my life?
Then The Lord, in His infinite grace and mercy, gave me wisdom. And I finally saw it.
A seed of anger.
I was always carrying it. Ready to plant it into whatever situation I was in. Anger was my personality’s T-cell, as it were. The immune system response to a breach of the outer defenses. And for any of you who know me personally since I was young can attest to this. Blind sputtering rage. Now, I had calmed it some myself, but it was still there. A rabid dog hiding in the doghouse. The leash was shorter, but the leash was still weak. And boy did it snap that day.
Proverbs 22:8 “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.”
Now, I am not so foolish as to think I am now free of all anger. I am still a man of flesh and blood, saved by a gracious and loving saviour. There exists the distinct possibility that I can stumble again.
I was talking to a good friend a few days ago about this whole incident and the aftermath. Oddly enough he had moved through a similar period, just dealing with his own seed problem. His comment was when God heals you, he does so at the root level. While I agree with my friend, I also think of Jacob. He wrestled with God and was left with a limp. Like a scar, it’s a reminder of a battle that was fought. Here, for me, it was a huge spiritual lesson and a permanent limp:
If you didn’t learn it from The Living God, you haven’t learned it yet.
Ephesians 4:29-32 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
It’s a family tradition that any member can end in his own life by refusing to get angry which, admittedly, requires some “outside help.”