A week ago, without warning, the cable cut out in our apartment in Longview, Texas. By mid-afternoon service was restored—to every apartment except ours.
I began making phone calls, and each call ratcheted my frustration and my wealth of words several notches. It was as if each customer sales rep read their reply from the same index card, regardless the problem. They didn’t listen. They didn’t help. They didn’t care.
I left for Dallas the next day, expecting the cable to be restored by the time I returned to Longview the following Monday. My husband and I planned to have dinner in front of the television and watch the national basketball championship game. But seven days and six phone calls later—still no cable.
Now I’ve got swift to hear and slow to wrath nailed—but slow to speak? Not so much.
I grabbed the phone and called the past list of service assistance numbers only to receive the message, “a part was missing and they were awaiting it’s arrival.” Now I’m no technical Einstein, but seems to me if a part was missing everyone in the building would have been without service, right? And I told them so. After a plethora of phone calls I connected with a supervisor who promised she would get to the heart of the problem. Two hours later I called her back and the phone message said the number was invalid.
Anger doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Pastor’s Sunday message on the subject of anger flashed through my mind: But now you also, put them all aside: anger, rage, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth (Colossians 3:8 NAS.)
Still I tried to argue with God. “I only get angry when people don’t do what they ought to do.”
The Spirit answered, “You don’t do what the Word tells you to do.”
Ouch. With the cover ripped off my own sin I cried out to God. “My temper has flared again. God, I’m so sorry. Please extinguish this fire.”
The Spirit’s finger poked my heart. That’s the reason the Bible is called The Water of the Word—use it to douse your malicious, angry words.
Had I spoken, or even thought about the Word of God? Had I sought His help to solve this situation? No. I rehearsed inflammatory words, hateful thoughts, and a plan of action that would fan the flames instead of encourage solutions. I missed the mark. Again.
Late in the afternoon, the supervisor I had spoken with called to say the problem would be fixed within twenty-four hours. Another twenty-four hours? The Spirit reminded me of my earlier confession and God’s faithful forgiveness—I did my best to use words laced with grace.
Through the night fiery darts zoomed into my mind: But they took seven days. Those reps were rude. Their business practices are unacceptable. Then God’s Words of wisdom and understanding spoke to my heart: Turn the other cheek. A gentle answer turns away wrath. Let it go.
It’s my choice now. Satan’s fiery darts? Or God’s wisdom and understanding?
Perhaps I’d better add the rest of that verse—slow to speak—to my short list and not give Satan so much information from my mouth for a frontal assault.
Do you struggle in this area? Or am I the lone-loud-mouthed-hot-head on the planet who must continually flee to the cross of my Lord Jesus to crucify the prideful idol of self?
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19 KJ)