I remember reading somewhere that you can tell if a man is a Christian by his reactions. Ouch.
Psalm 46:10 puts it this way; “Be still, and know that I am God.” Another version puts it, Our God says, calm down. Thomas Merton phrased it, “Be empty and know that I am God.” The idea of being empty makes sense to me. When I react poorly I am usually full of myself, full of the flesh. I tend to excuse it by labeling it a natural human reaction, saying I had no time to think, but I am beginning to believe that this is a copout. God expects more of me than natural humanness. I am now His child and a citizen of His Kingdom. If I can get to the place where I live my life empty of self I won’t need or want to lash out because self will not matter. The bad news is that in order to do this I must be willing to empty myself of everything that could be labeled self. Give up the fear that I will lose my place and importance. Give up the anger that so quickly builds when my rights are stepped on or when I take up an offense that is not my own. Give up the bitterness of past hurts. Give up the hiding; the worry that others will see who I really am instead of the mask I put on. Give up the rage that is behind every un-forgiven memory, every shattered dream, every unfair deal we have felt forced to accept. Give up the idols that we have made for ourselves. This is only done as I give my life daily and intentionally to God. It is only done when I take the time to draw near to God on a daily and sometimes moment by moment basis. The truth is that in the moment I react badly life is all about me. In those moments I can feel God trying to rein me in and pull me back. But self and the flesh are stern task masters and in the matter of our reactions they are denied only with great difficulty. When we are still; calm down, and are emptied of self we stand a chance. Be still, empty yourself, calm down, and know that He is God.