Today, anger is in the air we breathe and, in many ways, might be even more deadly than COVID. We’ve recently witnessed global riots due to racial injustice, political polarization, and social and financial issues. Some of us have taken part in heated confrontations with friends and family members over the last few months. As believers in the truth of God, we are called to respond to anger with grace and meekness.
But what does that look like?
Meekness is actually a strength. It is a virtue of our faith. The culture views meekness as a negative personal quality, but God sees meekness as a place of strength that comes not from us but through us from God. It is why we have to be intimately connected to God’s Word which is our conduit to His strength and power. When we are threatened, it is our willingness to see things differently and from a position of humility and a willingness to bend down to listen, see, and care that allows us to not be afraid of the growling and barking.
The television series, the Dog Whisperer, featuring dog trainer Cesar Millan, was captivating to me. He could transform the actions of mean, snarling and disobedient dogs into calm pets almost instantly. I was fortunate to get to know the producer of that series, Kay Bachman-Sumner. Kay loves all God’s creatures and has her feet planted in the love of God and His transforming power. One night my husband and I were invited to dinner at her Malibu ranch estate and as I opened my car door, I was met by a galloping horse coming to greet me and nudging me to pet him. We shared a wonderful dinner table that night with a young man who she had rescued from living in the drainage ditches near Ventura several months previously and was now living in a trailer on the property doing work at the ranch. He had been abandoned by his family at 15 and had been living on the streets of LA. Kay met him on a trip to Santa Barbara, looked into his eyes, and invited him to come to live at the ranch. She told of having to de-worm him, teach him how to bathe, trust people, and know a God who would never forsake him. The transforming love of God had totally changed his life.
Kay talked that night about how we often see others as growling dogs. We immediately pull back with fear and caution when we ought to view angry individuals as God does. He sees them as His creation who have been treated poorly and have been placed in challenging situations. Our challenge is to look them in the eye so that they can see God’s light and His authority shining through us and not be frightened by their growling. She said Cesar always approached dogs with respect. He looked them in the eye and then took a moment to discern the pain, suffering, and the reason for a dog’s issues of obedience and mistrust.
When we are confronted with angry people can we stop, take a moment and look at them in the eye?
When we look at others with meekness or the quiet confidence of God’s authority in us and see others with a humble respect it dissolves anger. It is not that we don’t feel fear or see the instability in these often dangerous encounters, it is because the love and authority of Jesus take over. His light shines through us and establishes trust. Proverbs 20:27 (TPT) tells us, “The spirit God breathed into man is like a living lamp, a shining light searching into the innermost chamber of our being. Good leadership is built on love and truth, for kindness and integrity are what keep leaders in their position of trust.”
As believers in God’s authority, we’re able to not be threatened but to bend down, listen understand, and care in spite of intimidating growls. And, we can go even further. We can extend a hand of peace. Will it get bitten? Maybe. Cesar got his hand bitten occasionally but it was rare. The risk is there but the reward is greater when hearts and lives are transformed. Jesus himself instructed us with this, “Now, remember, it is I who sends you out, even though you feel vulnerable as lambs going into a pack of wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes yet as harmless as doves.” Matthew 10: 16-17 (TPT).
It has been said,” The eyes are the pathway to the soul wherein lies one’s heart.”
In Hebrews 3:7-19 and 4:1-13 Paul talks about a calming place. A place of rest that lies within the mysterious confident place of trust in God. It can’t be experienced with the sensibility of the mind it can only be experienced when the heart overrules the mind. Our mind might tell us to run from an angry dog. A growling dog has a hardened heart due to fear, mistrust and the unknown. But it’s a self-preservation growl from previous encounters. When we allow God’s light to shine through our eyes it brings a mysterious calmness to those moments when ferocious animals (life’s dilemmas) show their angry teeth. The eyes of God project a meekness of the heart that penetrates and disarms the rage and it can happen in the twinkling of an eye.
Sadly today, hearts have been injured. They are not only hardened but have scars from continued injuries. In the worst cases, God has to “give them over to their evil ways” or as Paul says, a “reprobate mind” in Romans 1:28. God’s unconditional love allows us to choose with our mind and our heart to trust Him and be guided by Him or choose to walk our own way.
We are living in a time of masks. Our eyes are exposed and are seen more than ever. Can we let the eyes of God come through our eyes to calm the angry growls?
Can we be a Jesus whisperer?