Passion Not Anger
Passion Not Anger
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. NASU
When I woke up at 5:30 AM, I wasn’t happy. I did my best to go back to sleep but I kept feeling led to get up and get on the move. But God, I argued. I wrote until 12:30 AM. I need more rest. I only have 5 hours to drive today so I can sleep later.
I felt God’s spirit whisper, You have no idea what I have in store for you. Get up! I sighed and decided to start my morning.
Mornings always begin with cuddling with Belle. In order to do that, Belle has to jump from her bed to mine. For once, I had to wake her up. When I called, she would not jump. “What’s wrong,” I asked as I realized it was dark and she couldn’t see. I groaned as I turned on the intrusive light so early in the morning. With the light on, Belle jumped but instead of cuddling, she promptly went to sleep on my shoulder. “Sorry, girl, we have to get up,” I apologized as I rubbed her tummy. “God said so.”
Eventually, Belle and I got out of bed. She watched perplexed, as I got dressed. At 8:00 AM, we pulled out of our campsite – a new record for us. After we’d driven for a while, I saw a sign for Pecos National Historical Park. I knew nothing about it and had no idea how far it was but I felt led to take the exit. As I pulled in the parking lot I wondered if they were even open. I’d never been to a park so early before. Sure enough – they opened at 8:00 AM.
Belle and I had a glorious time hiking through the Pueblo ruins in the crisp morning air. (see pictures in the Photo Gallery under New Mexico –Pecos National Historical Park) “I should have brought my jacket,” I said as we frolicked along. As I felt the wind blowing, I could imagine those 2000 people busily working so many years ago. You probably didn’t let them sleep late either, I whined as I prayed. Remnants of the orange adobe dwellings backlit by the colorful mountain ridge told the story of their life and times.
When I got to the restoration project of a Spanish mission built in the 1700’s, I noticed a man inside the ruins taking pictures. Since I was the only other one in the park, I felt a moment of uneasiness, but I figured anyone that engrossed in taking pictures of ancient ruins probably wasn’t intent on doing harm in the present day and age. When he spotted us he said, “Can I pet your dog?”
“Sure,” I said. I told Belle to sit as he tried to call her to him. “She will let you pet her if you come to her but she won’t come to you. She likes people but is shy.” He walked over, knelt, and petted Belle as we began to talk. I noticed that he was dressed in a long sleeve shirt, jeans, and a hat. No wonder I’m freezing, I thought as I remembered my shorts and tank top. I’ve got to remember that I’m not in Florida.
We introduced ourselves and our conversation began about cameras. He had an older 35-millimeter and I had a tiny digital. “With this camera, you can pin point where you want the light,” he bragged.
I laughed. “I’ve noticed that real photographers love the older 35-millimeters. I take pictures every day but I’m not a photographer. My daughter has our 35-millimeter and loves it. I wouldn’t know what to do with it. What are you using the pictures for?”
I saw the energy flow through him as he stood up and answered. “They are doing a poor job of restoration! I’m taking pictures to prove my point.” He went on to give technical details of what was wrong with the work they were doing. “Look at this,” he said, pulling weeds out of the adobe. “This is destroying the adobe. Instead of pulling these out by the roots, they use a weed whacker on it. See those light colors up there. That was the original. Notice the difference. They’re just slapping mud on. There is a way you are supposed to do this. This isn’t that hard. Look at this.” He picked up a piece of adobe. "See how this just breaks off. They are using the wrong chemical."
I believed him. Michael had a degree in anthropology and had spent his life working on restoration of ancient ruins. “It’s tough to be right,” I said. “There were a lot of people in the Bible that were right. Most of them didn’t come to a good end.”
He laughed and then looked sad. “I was working on a restoration project on a church in Santa Fe but suddenly lost my job for no reason. I’m probably facing a breach of contract against them. They’ve brought in another company who is going to do things differently. The way they are going to do it is just wrong. I’m taking pictures of restoration projects in the area and plan to call a ‘Restoration Dialogue’ with the people making the decisions. I did this 16 years ago and it made a difference. Maybe it will again.”
Eventually, the subject got around to me. I told him about my ministry. Since he was working on restoration of a church, I asked him if he went to church. “No,” he said. “I was Catholic but the church and I had a falling out years ago.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I hear a lot of church horror stories. I love the church but I know she can sometimes do damage.” Michael agreed and went on to talk about the cases of child molestation by priests in New Mexico.
“It that why you left the church?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “It was much earlier than that. I was upset that they didn’t take a position on the Viet Nam war. I was a pacifist and wanted them to say the war was wrong.”
“So you rebelled against the church,” I said. He nodded. Remembering how hard he was working to protect ancient ruins, I said, “You’re not a pacifist. You’re an activist.”
“I am now,” he admitted. “I’ve learned that you have to fight for what is important. I’m just hoping I can have the faith and wisdom I need to get these projects back on track.”
“By faith, do you mean spiritual faith?” I asked.
“I guess,” he said, sounding surprised. “I mean the faith to hang in there. I need a job and my wife probably wishes I’d just get on with my life. I just can’t seem to leave this alone. I have to do this.”
“Do you read the Bible?” I asked.
“I’ve read a few of the Psalms,” he said. “Not much of anything else.”
“I love the Bible. God speaks to me directly through it every day. I’m not talking about religious interpretation of the Bible, I’m talking about reading it and using it to know what I’m supposed to do today. In James 1:5-6, there is a scripture that says something to the effect that if we pray for wisdom and don’t doubt, it will be given to us. It goes on to say that if we doubt, we will be like ships tossed about in rough seas. Have you tried praying for wisdom?”
“I need something,” he said. “This is so important to me. I’m hoping that by calling this ‘Restoration Dialogue’, some kind of job will come out of this for me.”
“You obviously know what you are talking about. A job might come out of it if you are passionate and not angry. As a former CEO, I never hired people who seemed bitter about the decisions made by people above them at the last job. It sounds like you were pushing for doing things the right way and now they are going to cut corners,” I said. “That’s probably why they let you go.” He agreed.
I went on to tell him about how I lost my job. “I had a similar situation,” I said. “At my last job, I stopped something from happing that was wrong. I won my point but lost my job over it. I would do the same thing again because I had to live with myself. What came out of that painful loss is the career I have now, but it wasn’t possible until I forgave them. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he said the words ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do.’ I suspect your employers ‘know not what they do.’”
“How on earth did you come to be in Pecos this morning? I expected to be here alone and you showed up,” he said amazed.
“I got up this morning and asked God where to go and who to talk to,” I said. “He sent me here. That’s what I do. I go where God says to go. He usually sends me places to talk to specific people who need to hear something. I’m always amazed by how He works things out.”
“I guess you were sent here to talk to me. I needed to hear passion not anger,” he said.
“Bitterness will keep you from reaching your goals,” I agreed. “The Bible talks about that too. I hope you can let go of some of your anger at the church as well. Church is the body of Christ and can be a wonderful thing. If a church is truly functioning as Christ’s body, then church is the closest place to heaven you can get in this world.” He looked unconvinced so I let it alone. I gave him a Pocket Full of Quarters card.
“I’m not a technologist so it will be hard for me to go to your website,” he said. “I don’t even have a computer. I have never liked technology. I guess it takes all kinds. I didn’t even watch the movie Star Wars. It’s funny because my father was a Rocket Scientist. I was the oldest of 8 children and I have nothing to do with technology.”
“It sounds like you rebelled against your dad by rejecting technology,” I laughed.
“You’re right,” he said, looking thoughtful. “I’ll find a way to look at your website.”
We said goodbye and he thanked me profusely for the words ‘passion not anger.’
"I’ll pray for you,” I promised.
“Thank you,” he said. I watched Michael walk to his car. We had talked for quite a while, standing in that chilly morning air. I realized I was no longer cold. The warmth of Christ had warmed my entire body. If I had slept in, I would have missed Michael. As I walked around the ruins, I prayed that he would win the battle for the ruins. I could see what he was talking about and wanted those ruins to be there for my great-great-great grandchildren to enjoy. I also prayed that he would forgive church, his father, and his former employer and let go of his bitterness.