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The Stench of Anger  

It’s one in the morning.  We are jolted awake by the sound of an alarm—our LP gas sensor.  What to do?  I remove the tanks from our camper and set them out in the yard. But the camper now wreaks of gas. 

Is it safe to breathe?  Should we even be in the camper?  Are we an inch away from a Hollywood explosion?

Ultimately, we spent most of the night in our minivan. Not exactly restful—but at least breathable. And safe.

What was maddening was that over the weeks that followed, we continued to notice a sort of rotten egg smell in our camper, even with those gas tanks removed! 

At 6:00 am last Sunday, my wife rolled out of bed, unable to sleep--again--because of the smell.  Diana determined that we were going to find the source of the problem.  

Know what it was?  Our battery.   It was running hot, leaking fumes, and threatening to explode.  Literally. So we swapped it out for a replacement.  The tech guy pointed out that even the sides of our old battery were swollen and bulging. 

To my way of thinking, this is a fitting metaphor for unresolved anger.  Anger makes us hot, makes us fume and—left unchecked—-can cause us to explode.  Even when it doesn't, unresolved anger leaves us bulging with bitterness, a noxious cloud all around us, endangering anyone that comes near.

No wonder we’re told in Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

I'm hoping this weekend we'll breathe easier and sleep better out at our camper.  More than that, I'm hoping this unpleasant experience will lodge in my brain, sufficient to jolt me (and maybe you?) away from anger--the next time I start to heat up!

 
Take off the Mask  

To my way of thinking, it’s the worst part of Coronavirus: wearing a face mask.  No matter how it’s made—and despite claims to the contrary—a face mask is hot, confining and uncomfortable. It’s also one more thing you have to remember to take with you the second you leave home.  

 

I’m intrigued by the creativity, though, that people have injected into this new tradition. You see all kinds of face masks—have you noticed? Some feature the logo of a favorite sports team.  Or a sticker.  Or the colors of a favorite university.  

 

I’ve noticed that if you want to be trendy—way cooler than the crowd—you simply wear a bandanna, preferably hanging around your neck, as opposed to covering your face (go figure).  Perhaps I’m the product of too many westerns, but all I can think of is how much these folks look like bandits and bank robbers of old. 

 

At the airport this week, I was asked by a TSA security agent, “Please remove your mask.  I need to see your face.”  I happily obliged, gulping cool fresh air. 

 

Know what? I wonder if Jesus is ever tempted to say the same thing to me, but for different reasons.  “Please remove your mask, Jon.  I heard those selfish (unconfessed!) words coming out of your mouth on the way to church. You think you’re fooling me with your plastic piety?  Let’s make things right.”

 

I wonder if Jesus wants to say that a hundred times a day to you and me.  Actually, He does.  In fact, there’s a standing invitation in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

Time to get clean.

Time to take the mask off!

 
 
Take off the Mask  

To my way of thinking, it’s the worst part of Coronavirus: wearing a face mask.  No matter how it’s made—and despite claims to the contrary—a face mask is hot, confining and uncomfortable. It’s also one more thing you have to remember to take with you the second you leave home.  

 

I’m intrigued by the creativity, though, that people have injected into this new tradition. You see all kinds of face masks—have you noticed? Some feature the logo of a favorite sports team.  Or a sticker.  Or the colors of a favorite university.  

 

I’ve noticed that if you want to be trendy—way cooler than the crowd—you simply wear a bandanna, preferably hanging around your neck, as opposed to covering your face (go figure).  Perhaps I’m the product of too many westerns, but all I can think of is how much these folks look like bandits and bank robbers of old. 

 

At the airport this week, I was asked by a TSA security agent, “Please remove your mask.  I need to see your face.”  I happily obliged, gulping cool fresh air. 

 

Know what? I wonder if Jesus is ever tempted to say the same thing to me, but for different reasons.  “Please remove your mask, Jon.  I heard those selfish (unconfessed!) words coming out of your mouth on the way to church. You think you’re fooling me with your plastic piety?  Let’s make things right.”

 

I wonder if Jesus wants to say that a hundred times a day to you and me.  Actually, He does.  In fact, there’s a standing invitation in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

Time to get clean.

Time to take the mask off!

 
 
Paid the Bill  

They say that troubles and tragedies come in threes. 

First, there was the washing machine.  Aged and infirmed, it died an inconvenient death when we were in the middle of building a room addition and were stretched for cash.

The next week, on a  bitterly cold night, we woke to the sound of our smoke detectors.  It was our furnace—nearly melted and ready to explode.  Replacement cost: five thousand dollars.

A 66-passenger school bus rammed into our car just one week later, totaling the thing—another few thousand bucks we didn't have.  Though there were no injuries on the bus (which thankfully was empty)— my wife ultimately needed shoulder surgery.

This trio of disasters put us so far into the hole there was little hope of finishing off the room addition—essentially a wooden shell with insulation, electrical, and drywall all waiting to be done.

So there I was in the check-out line with a bunch of conduit pipe and assorted electrical supplies.  My dad was with me, as I knew nothing about electrical work (or most of the work that was needed!). 

As the cashier rang up the parts, I got out my credit card.  We'd long run out of available cash.  But my dad waved me off.  Instead, he pulled out his own credit card—and paid the whole bill.  Approaching $100, as I recall.

I was stunned.  Understand that my dad has always been generous.  But there was something about this gesture—the sense of futility I felt about our finances, juxtaposed against the kindness of his gift—that etched this scene into my soul in a flash.  It was a ray of hope, signaling that maybe someday we’d get back on our feet and get that room addition finished.

When I think about Father's Day, that scene never fails to come to mind. And I wonder if maybe it's an image of a more profound truth. While we were morally and spiritually hopelessly in debt, our Heavenly Father sent Jesus and paid our entire sin bill: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

You might not be blessed with a generous dad like me. But your Heavenly Father has paid the ultimate price to forgive you your sin, by sending Jesus to the Cross.  That’s something to celebrate on Father’s Day—and every day!

 

 
Just Ask  

There’s magic in those undulating waves of orange and red.  Magic in the mesmerizing dance of smoke and ash.  Sitting around a campfire conjures up an uncommon sense of tranquility. 

That tranquility, of course, ebbs and flows when little tykes are around.  Noting the many little ones enjoying the fire with us, my dad started tossing out single-serve packages of M&Ms.  The kids happily snatched them up—all except Ava.

Bundled in a blanket on my wife’s lap, Ava was easy to overlook.  Noting the grand fortune that the other kids were enjoying, she unbundled herself, a three-year-old on a mission.  Skittering off my wife's lap, she announced, "I have to go ask Grandpa something..."   We couldn't help but chuckle at her thinly veneered intention.

But do you think Grandpa could deny her request and leave her without candy? Not on your life!  What good grandpa could?  And in a way,  you have to admire Ava.  She knew what Grandpa had.  She knew he would grant her request.  So she went to him without hesitation.

Not a bad metaphor for the generosity our Heavenly Father extends to us.   He tells us in James 4:2, "You do not have because you do not ask."   And in Matthew 7:11, we're encouraged, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"

So what is it you lack? What is it you need?  Take a cue from Ava.  Unbundle yourself from your anxiety and simply ask your Father.  He can't wait to give you what you need most.  Just ask. 

 
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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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