Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Soul's Doppler Radar

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment (Matt. 5:22).

Saturday here in the Atlanta area was a taunt. More cold air rolled in last night.

Those of us who live here are craving spring. The same is probably true of much of the country. The good people of Minneapolis feel no sorrow for us, laughing at our impatience with morning lows in the 30s or 40s. But this is Georgia, after all, and some kind of internal barometer tells us that frosty mornings should be a thing of the past.

The harbingers of springtime in Atlanta are beautiful: mild warm days, blooming azaleas, the gentle music that plays in the background of those commercials for the Master’s Tournament in Augusta.

And then there are the storms. The beauty around here is often coupled with a beast, and this beast made its presence felt last night as the cold air changed its mind about making an exit.

I had managed to get home before things got too intense. Local news stations were all over it. I marvel at the technology that allows us to track storms, to identify where lightning is striking, to discern rotating wind patterns that suggest the formation of a tornado, to predict when the heaviest rains and winds will be arriving in specific communities that are in the path of a storm.

It seems fitting that the most intense areas of the storm are shaded red – the color of rage and anger. In the relatively safe confines of my home I watched a red slice of turbulence move in from the west. I could tell how close it was likely to be to where I live. Radar allowed me to see it coming. Radar told me it would soon pass.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could track the rage within ourselves as effectively as we do the storms that rumble in the air above us?

Jesus said that our anger is one of the most common ways that we violate God’s command not to murder. This troubles us. Most of us can easily congratulate ourselves at having never broken this commandment. If a job application asks “Have you murdered anyone?” we can check the ‘no’ box with a clean conscience.

But Jesus won’t let us bow to our own applause without looking deeper: The anger that explodes, the rage that builds and erupts, the outburst that shouts ‘raca’ or ‘fool’ at someone else – these are the means by which we kill.

Is it possible to see these storms coming? Is there something in us that tells us that a deep red wedge of anger is moving in on the soul?

One such source of ‘radar’ for the soul might be the simple act of coming into God’s presence. Jesus suggests that it is there that we become aware that something isn’t right.

Where do you sense a storm brewing within yourself today? What do you need to do to take precautions?

Merciful God, guard me from the sudden storms of anger that often are unleashed at others around me. Help me to see these storms as they approach. Make me honest about my anger. Don’t let it wreak havoc in my heart or my home. Cover me with your grace, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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