(February 14, 1990)
One quarter teaspoon salt dissolved in one cup of boiling water equals a handy, home-made saline solution. But the recipe is too big for my little container so I put one-half a measuring cup of very hot tap water in the microwave, pressed the buttons, and hoped to bring it to a boil and get rid of unwanted bacteria.
Because the container was small and I didn’t know how long it would take, I stood to watch. Suddenly, a large bubble formed in the bottom of the cup, rose to the surface and the resulting explosion blew the door of the microwave open and sprayed water all over the inside of the microwave, down the front of the cupboard and out onto the floor. No harm done just a mess to clean up.
Without a degree in physics, I’m not too sure what went wrong. All I know is that the water didn’t cooperate with the forces to which it was subjected. Sort of like me at times... like when life applies a little heat... and I explode.
There is an anger called “righteous indignation” which most of us never experience. Mine isn’t that kind of anger. I mean the kind that wells up from the inside, burns its way to the top, then blasts out the mouth like a sulphurous volcano. This is the anger that takes doors off at the hinges and spatters itself all over the lives of whoever might be handy. Maybe it should be called rage, or more appropriately, a temper tantrum.
Most of us don’t like having one -- and we certainly don’t enjoy trying to repair the damages. In fact, if we could come up with anger inoculations that prevented this explosive disease, it would be a great boon, not only to our emotional health but to our relationships with just about everyone.
This week I learned from experience how to avoid blasting open my microwave door, but anger is not as easily prevented. Since we seldom have control over those irritating circumstances, the best alternative reality offers is to learn how to control our volcanic eruptions.
Right up front, it helps to know that God can use all those provoking situations for our ultimate good. We just have to see His purpose in the thing. The Word of God helps me to do that -- and what should have happened to my saline solution provides an illustration. It should have been purified.
Job, probably the most “tried” man ever, alluded to another illustration when he said this: “He knows the way that I take: when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” He knew how a goldsmith uses heat to purify this valuable metal. As the heat is turned up, impurities rise to the top where he skims them off. Finally, when he can see his reflection on the surface, he knows the ore is pure.
In the same way, God may see some impurities in us, so He allows whatever “heat” is necessary (He knows what it will take) to bring that dross to the surface. Then, as WE realize it is there and confess our sin, bringing it to Him for His forgiveness and cleansing, He takes it from us.
The “heat” of life tends to bring selfishness and pride to a boil. When that happens, all the those areas where the Lord is not trusted become painfully obvious. In fact, whatever makes me blow up can be a very reliable spiritual barometer. As uncomfortable as they may be, these crucibles of life are part of God’s perfect plan. Through them, it is not His intention to push me to sinful anger but He is looking for His own image. Remembering He is using pressure to bring out the dross and produce greater Christlikeness in me, helps keep the lid on.
Anger still happens. After all, the Lord did say “Be angry and sin not...” but being open to His purifying process can result in fruit-bearing instead of going BANG!