Sunday, September 16, 2012

Controlling the Rudder

Controlling the Rudder


If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.  Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. ….. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. – James 3:2-5,8-9)

I screwed up…plain and simple. 
Yesterday while out shopping with my daughter for a dress, I had to pull into the Wal-Mart parking lot in Clarksville, TN.  Traffic has no boundaries near the gas station in front.  People pull through parking spaces, cross diagonally across parking lot rows, and traffic is both entering and leaving all in one small area. 

In an attempt to pull to the gas pumps I pulled in only to be met by oncoming traffic trying to exit by moving to my position.  I attempted to back up to give them room, which apparently was not what I was supposed to do.  I hear a horn blast from a big black SUV behind me, and as the traffic cleared out I decided to forget the gas and just head to the store.  Then the gentleman in the black SUV moved in front of me, stopped his vehicle, jumped out, and turned toward me in anger.
This was a fork in the road.  I could either react the way God would have had me to, and roll down my window and apologize profusely, or I could react the way Faithie felt necessary. I throw my hands up in the air and screamed at him “WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? BRING IT!!!?” 

I could blame a lot of things for my attitude at the time.  I could blame it on frustrations of dealing with having to find the perfect dress for a teenage girl who doesn’t particularly like dresses.  I could blame it on a ticking clock reminding me that I needed to hurry back home for a church service last night.  I could even blame it on the fact I had not yet eaten lunch and it was late.  But the truth is…my mouth reacted to what I’d allowed to be in my heart.  I was frustrated, angry, tense, and just fed up. 
The moment it happened the Holy Spirit began to redirect me with that little nudge that says “Oh, girl! That just wasn’t right!  Where’s the love of Christ now? What did you just teach your daughter about handling angry people?”

James 3 talks about the power of the tongue and trying to control it.  Verse 2 says that if a person can control their tongue, they are PERFECT, and able to control their whole body.  But then verse 8 cancels out all hopes of perfecting our control over it by saying no one can control it!  Yet, I still believe we must try to tame this beast that God placed inside a cage of teeth, and a gate of lips.
James uses the example of a ship, which has a small rudder and uses it to turn the entire ship.  The ship has a fuel tank of some sort.  It has a captain.  It has a crew.  It endures all sorts of fierce winds and waves.  But it’s captain directs the small rudder that determines where it goes.  That captain is the heart.

Matthew 15:18 says But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”  The tongue is a mirror to what is in the heart.  You can have love in your heart, but if it doesn’t show up in your words the love can go unnoticed.  You can also hold anger in your heart, and control the tongue so that it also goes unnoticed.  You can lie and pretend not to be angry, but that just shows the deceit in your heart.  Or you can react in grace and mercy and show the good that’s in your heart.  But be sure that what is in your heart WILL come out through the gate and cage surrounding the tongue!  Oh that we would only put a stronger filter on the things we allow into our hearts!
In retrospect, I should have prayed when I was frustrated, and dealt with the anger inside me by giving it to God.  I should have pleaded once again for more patience.  If the anger and frustration had not been in my heart, I’d probably not have been in the situation I lead myself into.  But I thank God that this gentleman reacted much better than I.  He simply looked at me in all my frustration, shook his head, and got back in his car.  Who knows! He may have prayed for me in my frustrated state at that point.  I'm sure he had something to say about me, and that was from his heart too.


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