I promised Ron’s daughter I’d go to church with her, hoping he would go as well. However, when it was time to go, Ron was working on a home improvement project with his son-in-law. But keeping a promise is the right thing to do, and in no time, we pulled into the fenced parking lot of a former amusement park—Woodland Hills Family Church. Many noisy kid-filled rooms lined each side of the former theatre as we made our way to the coffee bar, near the sanctuary entrance. Kim and I settled into seats with our coffee in the cup holders. Her friends joined us, and we rocked to upbeat praise music with guitarists, a drummer, keyboardist and vocalist. Then the keyboardist-pastor announced that today, Gary Smalley would be giving the message: high honor and low anger in your life.
Smalley said that what we truly care about is what we honor. It’s best if we honor God, His creation, and the people in our lives. He said we need to honor, and show it frequently, the people who mean the most to us—our spouses, our children, our parents. He told a story about his son breaking his rule of no yelling when Dad was on the phone by running into the room screaming. Smalley told the pastor on the other end that he’d call him back, and swatted his son, who fell out into the hallway, sobbing. He said the look his son gave him said plainly, “You don’t mean it when you say you honor me.” Smalley stopped, took a deep breath, and realized he was honoring a person he didn’t even know above his be-loved son. When he asked his son why he was yelling, the boy revealed he had fallen and hit his ear, and it was bleeding. When he fell into the hallway, he hit the same ear again. Finally, Smalley asked his son if he could forgive him, and the boy hugged him and forgave.
The flip side of the sermon was about how destructive holding anger is. He said that when we harbor anger and resentment against someone, it is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick from it. Anger held in only hurts the person holding it, not the person it is directed towards. Sounds remarkably like the teachings of the Bait of Satan class, doesn’t it? Isn’t it a coincidence how so many of the messages we get reinforce each other? There are no coincidences, only God’s perfect plan for us.