DEEPER GRACE

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Choose Your Drinking Buddy

I enjoy being angry with people, don’t you? I’ve been angry with some people for so many years, my anger has mellowed into a fine wine of bitterness and judgment. I descend the stairs into the cellar of my memory, select a particularly good vintage, and uncork the bottle of my gall. I smell the aroma, I see the sparkle in the glass, and I drink my discontent to the dregs.

I hate to drink alone. Let me pour you a glass. Here’s what I’m serving today:

We invite others into our anger. Everyday offenses are fun to share; we summon others into our offense. “Can you believe what he said to me?” and “Don’t you just hate it she gives you that look?”

We spiritualize our anger. It’s easier to be angry when we are sure God is on our side. We remind ourselves that Jesus drove moneychangers from the temple and pronounced seven woes on the hypocrites. Along with King David we pray for their limbs to broken.

We rehearse our anger. Like an actor memorizing lines for a play, we imagine that sweet moment when we give voice to our rage and silence the mouths of those fools who have offended us. In our imagination we are cool and collected, but our imaginary words cut to the core and expose those idiots for the petty fools they are.

We treasure our anger. Some offenses are too precious to give away lightly. Better to hold them in the dearest corners of our hearts and count them among the treasures of our lives. Sometimes our deepest hurts become a part of our truest selves.

But then, just before this alcohol assimilates into body and my skin and sweat take on the stench of this putrid spirit, I remember there is a new wine, free and flowing from vineyard of God. Instead of exploring the cellar of my soul I can celebrate at the feast of heaven. I can enter the joy of my Master.

I can invite others to the feast of grace, mercy and forgiveness. Instead of throwing my own party, funded by the dark resources of my anger, I can show the way to a table of bread broken for us all and wine spilled without reserve or limit.

I can exchange the spirit of Man for the Spirit of Love. What the Lord did, he did from love. What David did is not my model. To use an imprecatory Psalm as an excuse to pray against my enemies makes no more sense than to use David’s life as an excuse to commit murder or adultery.

I can rehearse a different scene: one where my debt is cancelled, along with the debt of others and together we raise our glasses in a happy toast—not to our own cause, but the cause of love.

I can find treasure that will never decay. I can discover my other self, the one where Someone gives me a new name written on a white stone; where he calls me forth like Lazarus to walk in a new kind of life, and where I see not the shadow of my life, but life in the light of eternal day.

These are the draughts from which to drink: anger or joy. We can stumble through life on the cheap wine of earthly hurts and pain, or we can savor a supernatural vintage, poured from heaven fresh every day.

Reader Comments (7)

This is brilliant. Thank you.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Yes, it is brilliant. It could have been a poem.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Thanks so much, Lisa & Rebecca. Perhaps I should give poetry a try someday? :-)

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Matthew 18 comes to mind. It is one example of how I once was invited to share a friends bitter wine and when we invited the Holy Spirit all parties found their wine to be sweet.

I can be angry because I love. I found I don't respond well to bullies who promote self over the whole. In relationship as a disciple (student) of Jesus Christ I have found I don't dwell on the sin or sinner but look for opportunities to salve the wounds of those sinned against.

I am a childish student with insufficient education and experience to know how to fully and properly utilize all the resources of my mind, heart, soul and strength in productive and constructive relationship; so I can only love with the "all" that I am prepared to share.

Right now my heart is heavy because to call myself a Christian I am perceived and invoke anger as an enemy of those who don't appreciate raping and plundering crusaders in the name of Jesus, who are sickened by those of us who hate coloreds in His name, who have been scammed by all the marketing ploys in His name, who only know His followers as those infidels willing to invoke family destroying shock and awe, as those who would drown and burn to death witches in His name, as those who would murder legal abortion doctors in His name, as those who would destroy any who would take their swords of defense away, as those who promote their mission to save God rather than accept there is no salvation possible by our hands only through our hands, ...

Am I angry? Yes

Am I at peace? Yes

Do I now automatically forgive to no longer dwell on the sinner but still abhor the sin? You betcha'

I am so fortunate to drink from an overflowing glass of the most pleasurable of wines. I can still be viable in ministering to the wounded without worry because I am monitored and directed daily by a Father who is vigilantly protecting me and mine. I so love my daily lessons from my eldest Brother to eventually (maybe at the end of eternity) raise me up to understand more than I am being well taken care of. You help in that administration Ray, thank you.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

There is one man, a VY pastor, I pray for daily; and I do this because I don't know any other way to process my anger; and I've been doing this for a few years now. It only means that I do this to sublimate my anger safely; it does not mean that I trust or respect him, or that I was not harmed, or that it was o.k. for him to do what he did. Or that he has some kind of Divine Right of pastors to do such things; or for that matter to receive some kind of unearned respect. And I do genuinely pray for him; it is not an act. And neither is my anger.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercharles

Oh wow, that is so true...sad that we do this instinctively, but true. Thanks for sharing God's truth and how we ought to turn such emotions to glorifying Him.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

Hi Cyndi ~ thanks so much for dropping by. You're always welcome here. Blessings!

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

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