Are you ready for bed?

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“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” –Ephesians 4:26b

Great line of scripture. I wonder: What if the whole world did this?  We could all be mad at each other during the day, hurling rocks and insults and such, but as soon as the sun sets…we’re cool as cucumbers.

The human race would have somehow learned to let go of their anger each night, and instead, we’d all gather in the streets, reconciling with our enemies, dancing in the joy of release.

I wonder–come morning, would we pick up where we let off?  Hurtful remarks over Raisin Bran? Nations at war with nations?  Facebook posts pointing fingers every which way?  Can you say, “Outrage du jour?”

Or would a night of peace change our minds?  Would conflict seem less palatable in the light of the day?  Once you have seen your adversary in the gentle moonlight, would it be harder to hate them under sunny skies?

Maybe anger would just fizzle away.  We’d learn we just didn’t need it.  We wouldn’t need the road rage, the jealous fits, the political diatribes.  We might need to hold on to a little righteous anger, just for those times when gross injustice warrants it. But even the anger we might tend to direct at ourselves would lose its power.

Now, I’m sure there would be quite a lot of resistance if I were to suggest that anger can be eliminated from the human makeup.  These emotions come from the more primitive parts of our brains, and they’re hard wired into us.  We will likely have to face anger again and again. However, it really is possible for us to reduce the grip anger has on us.

Prayer.  Meditation.  A good therapist.  A long walk.  Medication, even.  These are just a few things humans do that reduces anger.  Want more examples?  Journaling.  Breathing. Creativity.  Forgiveness.  Listening.  Sharing.  Serving.  A long, hot shower (my personal favorite), and yes, counting to 10.

The anger some folks carry is a very heavy weight.  Maybe not something you can fully “deal with” between brushing your teeth and putting your slippers on. But as you get ready for bed tonight, remember that God offers a plethora of ways to help at least lighten your load of anger.  Try some of them.

And if your new bedtime ritual works, and the peace of Christ comes upon you, you may even feel the urge to run out into the street, to celebrate.

God willing,

the rest of us will be there too.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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“Heavy Laden”

“Come unto me, all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  –Matthew 11:28 (KJV)  

I’m not sure I even realized just how heavy laden I’ve been because of Bin Laden.

Funny, the words are pronounced differently, “Layden” and “Lahden”, but they’re spelled the same.   And for this point in history, their meanings seem to coincide.   We’ve been Heavy Laden because of Osama Bin Laden.

And now, the big bad guy is no more.   After so many years of searching for him, the mastermind behind the event of 9/11 and other terrorist acts around the globe is dead. Of course, terrorism isn’t dead.   Wars aren’t over.  But still, this seems like a pretty big deal.  As our president and countless TV journalists have made it clear, “Justice Was Done”.

And now…there’s a feeling of release, for all the families who lost loved ones in terrorist attacks.   For all who have felt scared or angry because he had eluded capture.   For all who died…perhaps tonight they’ll be at rest.  Yes.

If that’s all true, if that burden has been lifted, why am I still feeling overloaded?

Strange, but I think the burden I’m carrying today is Jesus Christ. Yep, that’s right.   Today, being a follower of Jesus feels a little harder than normal to carry.  Because this is the guy that said “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.”   And he’s the guy who said “Love your enemy”.    He’s the guy who allowed himself to be put to death rather than respond with violence.   He’s the one who said, “forgive seventy times seven”. I’m honestly not sure how to process the radicalness of Jesus Christ in the wake of what’s happened.

What about you? Times like this can put our faith to the test. If you’re feeling conflicted today, you’re not alone.   Christians everywhere are struggling whether or not to celebrate the killing of a man, however wicked he was.   Can we celebrate that he will do no more evil?  Can we celebrate a feeling of closure? What would Jesus do?

My advice:  Take the scripture above to heart.   Even as you wrestle with the burden of your faith in the midst of this amazing moment in history, Jesus quietly reminds us that we can rest our hopes and fears in him, and him alone.  That’s a lesson we should never forget.

I don’t know about you, but when I remember that Good News,

It’s a weight off my shoulder.

Have a good week,

Mitch