Friday, March 26, 2010

Calming Anger Down

In a west Texas town a few years ago, employees in a medium-sized warehouse noticed the smell of gas. Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition -- lights, power, etc.

After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked.

Witnesses later described the vision of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away.

Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician that was suspected of causing the explosion had never been thought of as "bright" by his peers.

Years ago, Jim Croce, in his song, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim", used to sing about things that you don't dare do (pull the mask off the Lone Ranger or tug on Superman's cape, for example). He might have done well to add, "You don't flick your Bic inside a building with a gas leak"! In an explosive situation, the last thing you want to do is provide the spark.

We've all been around those kinds of situations (not literally, but figuratively) -- where someone was angry and it wouldn't take much to create an explosion. We have two choices in that setting, described by Solomon in this way:

"A gentle answer will calm a person's anger, but an unkind answer will cause more anger." (Prov. 15:1, NCV)

How I admire those people I know (and my wife is one of them) who have a calming effect on those around them (including me), gently stifling the flames of anger before they burst in flames.

"Wise people calm anger down." (Prov. 29:8b, NCV)

May God help us all to be wise.

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