Friday, January 26, 2018

A Christian in Rage

I am emerging from a week long full blown rage. I have said things & entertained images of how I wanted to handle a situation that were anything but Christ like.

Maybe I could cushion this by telling you I can't recall how many years it has been since I felt this way. Don't get me wrong I can be ridiculously impatient & become agitated over the simplest of things. This was different. This was an ugly rage & my mind played unpleasant scenarios out repeatedly at such a high rate that any sleep was difficult to find. My every thought adding anger much like throwing gasoline on a fire.

I could share that if the attack would have been on me I could have shrugged it off & I could have. But when my wife is in tears over a false attack & her confidence shaken this tiny little fire began to burn in me.

The following conversation actually took place.

My faithful wife says, "You have to fight on your knees. God has my back. Read Psalms Chapter 35."

My response was- "I don't want to wait on God. I want to take care of this matter right now."

Ironically, God warned me. I believe it was two days before the event. I heard. "Be gracious to everyone." He did not say just the people who treat you fairly. He said, Everyone.

My new book, The Preacher's Letter had just been released so I assumed it was something to do with that.  The devil coming at us because the good things we prayed & dreamed about were coming & he was not  happy. But the attack came from a source that I  never expected.

My first column for Pandora's Box Gazette last year was about my year of being spiritually stretched. I was not bragging on me but God for bringing me to places I thought impossible. And in one event I took ten steps backwards. Yes, I understand there is grace even for someone who is always his harshest critic.

It is so easy to look away from God for just a moment in time. We or someone we love was treated unfairly. A relationship ended with someone you really believed in. We feel betrayed by someone we once believed in. Maybe we lost our job.So many challenges in this life.

As I read in Proverbs 25 this morning this verse jumped out & hit me in the head & though I know my limitations as a man, that being that I am not gifted to teach the word of God. I believe I have a good handle on what Proverbs 25:28  means.

A man who does not control his temper
is like a city whose wall is broken down.

Several definitions for the word wall. I chose this one. A thing perceived as a protective or restrictive barrier.

When this offense began I could have & should have pressed into God. I should have not thought about how much I wanted to fight the accuser but as Julie said so correctly, "You fight on your knees & you have not learned how to do this." 

Picture yourself in a fortified place where there is this huge solid wall encompassing you. As a fire so small that it appears to be like the pilot light on a gas stove begins to burn the wall around me. There are not fractures. It is not surmountable. But as my anger began to grow-to the point it turned to rage. My wall was being chipped away until a gaping hole knocked a portion of it down & the enemy was allowed access. Not because God was not defending me but because I turned away from Him & desired to do it my way.

We could play out this scenario in so many ways in life. We remove our eyes from the prize & we focus on money, things, entertain thoughts that can lead us to straying from our spouse. We look the other way when an injustice is done to our  brother or sister. We rationalize. "I can take this from this person because I give money to church. I am in attendance every Sunday & I read my Bible daily." That is all good. 

But how do we treat our neighbor? The people you work with? Strangers?

Matthew 22:39  ...'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

Yikes, I guess this applies even if I feel betrayed by my neighbor.

It took a few days for it to sink in but a friend who heard about what transpired, while in no way excusing the person did offer, "You never know what someone else is going through."

That is true. It does not excuse the offense but it does lead me to where I should have gone to begin with. Praying over the situation. Praying for that person. Having hope that someone you once looked up to spiritually will come back & ask forgiveness. And much like Jesus is doing as I allowed anger to remove my focus for a season- my arms are open wide. I pray that happens & I believe it can. I want to believe in the goodness of people & not turn cynical & angry.

One of my favorite blogs that I wrote is about the path. I believe while not having a knock down vision from God I did have a more subtle vision that I believe derived from Him. Here is an excerpt & the link if you care to revisit or read it for the first time. I actually incorporated this into The Preacher's Letter.

I have thought about writing this blog for a week. I am glad I had the wisdom to not attempt it until I released my rage & fell back on my knees. I am not worthy of the grace of Jesus Christ but I sure am grateful for it.

Maybe next time I will fight on my knees from the beginning.

Excerpt from The Path...

I view my life as a path. Picture a huge forest with magnificent trees, plants, and the natural floor of the forest. Next picture a clear winding path through those woods.

This is my most visual image of relationship with my Father. I see us walking easily and firmly on the path. We are talking and he is holding my hand much like a Daddy would a small child. I choose at times when the path is less clear to wander off the path. Does he punish me or is he angry when I stray? No. Absolutely not. He waits patiently for me to return to our walk together. Does this mean he  pulled his spirit from living in me because I strayed off the path? No, not even for a moment.

These times when I should just rest where I am with him but choose not to and go it alone under the power of my own steam are when I feel disconnect. As I navigate through the brush and find my way back to the trail he is waiting graciously with hand held out ready to resume our walk together.

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