Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To emulate a king

If a small thing has the power to make you angry, does that not indicate something about your size? -Sydney J. Harris

I’ll admit it: I have an anger problem.  No, seriously.  Ask my husband.  It doesn’t take much to get my hackles raised, my claws out, and my teeth barred.  Some days, all it takes is me getting out of bed.  I have recognized this propensity in me for years; but, the closer I come to Christ, the more I find myself trying to overcome my weakness.  Anger hardly becomes a child of God.  Mercy, patience, gentleness, tender-hearted mercy; these are the fruits of a life lived with Christ.

I could use the Christianese phrase, “God’s not finished with me yet.”  Its cliché because it’s true; He’s not finished with me.  But that type of remark smacks of my generation’s amazing ability to duck responsibility.  [Did you catch that it’s my generation’s ability, not something of which I claim ownership?  Yeah, it’s rooted pretty deep.]  At some point, I have to stand up and say, “This is mine.  This anger is mine; and while I can’t handle it on my own, I need to start making choices that reflect my heritage ~ my heavenly kinship with the King of kings."  I need to start behaving as one who is a citizen of heaven.

But, HOW?

By first recognizing that I have a choice.  Not in the sense that I can control how I feel, but in that I can choose what I do with those feelings.  Secondly, I have to surrender everything.   Everything.  Things that are said to me, things that hurt me, things that happen within and outside of my control, things that rouse my anger.  Everything.

To illustrate this point, God preserved the story of King Hezekiah [2 Kings 19:9-37] for us to emulate.  (A very quick run down:) Hezekiah was king of Judah and was being threatened with invasion and destruction by Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, who had already conquered many other nations.  Sennacherib sent a messenger to Hezekiah insulting God, the Lord's sovereignty, and the beliefs of the Israelite nation [vv. 9-13].

The key to this passage is Hezekiah’s response; it is exactly what we are to do.  He didn’t kill the messenger, rouse the troops, and head out to battle.  Instead, Hezekiah physically took the paper on which Sennacherib’s threats were written and spread it out on the altar of the Lord [vv. 15-19].  Hezekiah praised God, who he knew was sovereign; and then he asked God to hear and see the insults of Sennacherib.  Hezekiah took everything that surely angered him (can you see him, shaking with rage at the audacity of the words written by his enemy?) and laid it out before the Lord.  Hezekiah turned his wrath into worship.  He surrendered, choosing to not act out in anger; instead Hezekiah chose to trust God with his emotions and the outcome.  [Which God did in vv. 35-37, without any further involvement from Hezekiah.]

So from Hezekiah, we can glean practical application ~ every time our anger is roused, whether righteously or not, we need to take it to the Lord.  Literally lay it before Him and ask Him to deal with it; deal with our emotions, deal with the situation, deal with us.  In this surrender, we find release.  Like Hezekiah, we can turn our wrath into worship.

All it takes is surrender.

He who angers you conquers you. - Elizabeth Kenny

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