Archive for the ‘Anger’ Category

The coin was old, and it was gold; of that I am sure. I imagined that the notorious bandit, Jesse James, dropped it when he was headed to the caverns to stash some loot. After all, I was swimming just a stone’s throw from Meramec Caverns, famed hideout of the James-Younger Gang. True, they hadn’t been near the cavern for umpteen years, but it wouldn’t have been the first time someone found a relic from the gangs’ racketeering days in those parts.

The summer had been a scorcher and the water levels were extremely low. Everyone was concerned that some of the streams in the area would dry up altogether. That’s pretty much how I felt about my life at the time. And my prospects of ever escaping that life, it seemed, were drying-up just as quickly as those Missouri waters.

After graduating high school, I was able to leave that place – a place I had grown to hate– but all too soon, fate brought me back. If only I had known God, and understood how perfectly He orchestrates our lives, I might have been more content. But I didn’t know God back then; I only knew sorrow.

Swimming in the cool river brought a bit of diversionary relief, but I was still rather cranky. To make matters worse, my younger sister kept jumping on my back even though I had told her a dozen times to knock it off. I wasn’t even nice the last time I said it. “Get off my back!” I barked at her angrily.

In order to take my mind off things, I swam to a deep spot and dove under the water to search the rocky bottom for a nice keepsake. The water in that part of the river is normally too deep and fast-moving to swim in, but that summer, the conditions were more favorable. I figured that I might get lucky and find an arrowhead or an unusual piece for my rock collection. In my wildest dreams I would never have thought that I would find a gold coin from long ago, but I did.

With great anticipation, I brought the coin to the surface and slowly opened my hand to examine it. To my great dismay, however, I didn’t even get a chance to read the date on the coin, which was unquestionably quite old, because my sister had ignored my scolding and pounced on my back like a leopard on its prey. I don’t even know where she came from, but I know where the coin went –it flipped out of my hand and sank back into the river. Finding it in the first place was incredibly miraculous; finding it a second time was impossible! We all searched for more than an hour, but it was a hopeless cause and it was starting to get dark anyway, so we left the coin in its watery grave and headed home.

I was very angry at my sister; and that for quite a while. The more I thought about it, the more I had determined that the coin was my ticket out of that place. The realization that my golden opportunity had been knocked right out of my hands caused my heart to sink as well. I don’t know how much I would have gotten for the coin, but I figured it would surely be enough to start a new life. But again, fate was keeping me there -or was it God? I didn’t know Him then, but He certainly knew me. While I had my own ideas of how I wanted life to be, God had a different plan for my life all along.

Scripture says: “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NKJV).

To be honest, I still don’t like the fact that my sister jumped on my back that day, but I’m glad that God stopped me from pursuing my own desires. Had I gotten my way, my life would have gone in a completely different direction than it did, and there is no telling where I may have ended up. God loved me enough to keep me where I needed to be at the time. When He was ready to move me forward, according to His plan, He did. And I have no regrets, because my precious Lord has given me a life more wonderful than I could ever have imagined. I still don’t have much gold, but I do have something much better –genuine peace and happiness.

Dear reader, is there someone you want desperately to “get off your back;” a boss or family member perhaps? Is there a circumstance in your life that has caused your heart to sink and given you a feeling of hopelessness? I want to encourage you that God, in His great love and mercy, knows just where you are and what you are going through. If you are frustrated because you are stuck in a place you don’t want to be, whether physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually; be patient. The events in your life are not decided by some cosmic flip of the coin, but rather, God is working all things out for your good, according to His divine plan.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Finally, please remember that the riches of this world may come and go, but God’s love is forever. Once you take hold of it, no one can ever knock it out of your hands. Even when this life’s difficulties ‘pounce’ on you, as they sometimes will, God is still in control;  and He is working to ensure that you have a rich life despite the way things appear to be.

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My favorite college professor used to relay the most unpleasant events of history with great animation. He would then playfully tell us “That’s the way it was. If you don’t like it, you can just go butt a stump!” I’ve never seen anyone foolhardy enough to do this, but I did watch my drunken step-father once butt heads with an old goat. You would’ve had to been there to fully appreciate the comical skirmish so I’ll jump straight to its conclusion; the goat cleaned his clock. It seems that even docile goats can get quite aggressive when provoked.

The embarrassing defeat never dampened his love of head-butting though. I doubt he ever locked heads with another four-legged grass-eater, but he continued to derive pleasure from butting heads with me (and everyone else) every chance he got. If anyone knew how to get my goat, he did!

Being a control-freak, he found those head-to-head conflicts to be an exhilarating way to boost his own ego, but I became more frustrated with each passing day. Then someone gave me a very wise piece of advice. She told me, “He can’t get your goat if you don’t tell him where you keep it tied.” She was right. With this little nugget of wisdom I was able to turn the tables.

After all these years I have never forgotten this and have, in fact, tried to instill the concept in my children. Unfortunately, they still haven’t quite figured it out. Frustrating as this is, it is certainly understandable. You see, it really irks me when……oops, I almost led you to one of my goats. Never mind.

More to the point, I don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions because frankly, I’m never disciplined enough to follow-through on them for more than a day or two. Even so, I have realized lately that I have allowed a few people to find out where my own goats are tied and have therefore resolved to fix this little faux pas before any serious problems arise.

After all, there is a reason I keep certain of my goats tethered in the first place; they are not docile and it doesn’t take much to rile them. Some of these goats used to graze peacefully in the meadows of nonchalant but after a season of agitation, they became a bit aggressive and had to be constrained. I prefer to keep them that way.

You may ask, “Why don’t you just get rid of them altogether?” Truthfully, not all goats are bad; some merely need to be tamed. They can be very useful for refining us and teaching us to respond properly to adverse stimuli.

No matter how careful I am, someone always manages to get one of my goats at some point. So, I can either choose to butt heads with them, or I can take the higher road and cultivate the wisdom of Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man maketh him slow to anger; And it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

Admittedly, I sometimes butt heads instinctively, but I am working toward the latter. I won’t call it a New Year’s resolution since I’m not very successful with those, but I am continuing to strive toward greater long-suffering. Others may choose to be confrontational but from now on, I don’t plan to join them.

Hey, if they don’t like that they can “just go butt a stump!”

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