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Thursday, November 6, 2008


I was at the airport counter a few months ago.  As usual I arrived 3 hours early (I'm anal like that). There was a line of 25 people checking in at the Kiosk (an electronic personal check-in hickamadooger that looks like an ATM machine).  A school sports team of some sort.  A customer service agent was working the counter to confirm check-in and tag bags.  Beside the agent was an open counter. I figured the agent would see me with my one measly bag and squeeze me in so I could be on my way. Would have taken all of about 58 seconds, if that.

I walked up to the open counter and stood there. And stood there. And stood there.  I watched all 25 people check-in. The agent never even acknowledged my existence. And it’s not like I wasn’t seen. I’m 6’7 for crying out loud.

In the meantime a gentleman had walked up with his briefcase in hand.  After the last person of the posse of 25 dragged their bag off, the gentleman looked at the agent, and then over to me and said, "Go ahead, man." To which the agent said to the gentleman, "Sir, I'll take you right here."

My eyes glazed over white with anger. Sweat beaded on my forehead. My breath shortened. “Unprofitable” words filled my mind---words that might’ve made a gangster-rapper blush. I almost wasn’t a Christian anymore.

To show you the gravity of this moment I’ll tell you what I’ve told some friends of mine in the past couple of years: "If you ever hear a rumor that I was arrested in an airport, it's true."

Two other people had lined up behind the gentleman. Against my pride, I walked over to stand behind them. By now I'd been there around 30 minutes and counting. I seethed. Mentally I explored scenarios of what I would say and do when I got to the counter—--what words I’d bark out, what stare I’d give, how I’d swear to never fly the airline again.  

I stepped to the counter cocked and ready.   The agent looked at me and talked to me as if I was a waste of time. I was handed my ticket and tagged bag.  Then I did the most terrible thing ever.  I’m ashamed to even say. You ready to hear it? Brace yourself. 

I didn’t say thank you.  And felt good about it. 

Horrific, I know. 
Ironically, or actually by God’s sovereignty, I came across a text in Colossians written by the Apostle Paul. He said to set our affection on “things above” (Christ), and to “put away: anger [and] wrath…”.   Anger Biblically defined is an abiding and festering agitation that has in its sights revenge---Anger fantasy. Wrath Biblically defined is that agitation reaching the boiling point and blowing up. It’s a sudden burst of anger---Anger Fantasy gone public.
On the other hand, Paul says, “Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts . . .” (Col 3:15). The literal translation of “rule” is “umpire.” How do we deal with anger & wrath when they flare up within us? We pray for Christ to bring peace into the game and eject anger and wrath out of the park.
I learned a few of things that day at the airport.
1) I have issues.

2) Anger fantasies are dangerous (and a waste of time).

3) Those kinds of situations test and expose the true state of our souls. Those moments reveal where our affections are (for ourselves or Christ) and what truly rules our hearts. 


Darkness was revealed in my heart that day. What's disturbing is that I thought my heart was good. But God never lets us settle with such a thought.  We constantly need Jesus.

 When you read my story did you put yourself in my place? Did you feel yourself flaring up? What does that reveal about the state of your soul? Is Christ ruling and umpiring your heart or does anger easily take over?  The Lord is working on me. And I need a lot of work. Because if the airport thing happened again I’m still not sure I’d say thank you. 

Help me Umpire Jesus.


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