Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.
- Ecclesiastes 7:9
The year 2000 was The International Year for the Culture of Peace, but not for Michael Eck when on his way to work this particular day. Here is an unforgettable story of how easily we can let anger grow until it becomes our master. Truck driver, James Trimble, did just that. He didn't address his anger when it was small, but let it morph into a beast that governed his actions. His friends probably recognised it. His boss may have said something about it. His family may have cautioned him, but he kept letting it go until his rage forced him to take a step too far.
The saga Michael Eck had left plenty of time to get to his afternoon shift job as a forklift operator and drove the same route he'd taken for the past twelve years. Before that, he had been a truck driver himself.
On this day, he and a few other cars were caught behind Trimble's 18-wheeler on a narrow stretch of road. When safe, Michael indicated to pass, then put his foot down and passed Trimble. As Michael soon caught up to more traffic in front of him, that's when the fun started.
The first bump was just a light tap. Michael thought, "What was that?" as he looked up at the enormous grille in his rear-view mirror. Trimble had nudged home. There was no place to pull over and check the damage and exchange licence details. But Michael became more concerned when Trimble downshifted and came at him again, this time hard enough to slam him back in his seat.
Michael started to worry, "This guy's a nutter."
The third time, Trimble shifted gears again slamming into Michael’s car so hard his engine died. That meant no power steering and no power brakes. This wouldn’t have been so bad if Michael had been able to pull over, but the semi downshifted and came at him again. Michael was trapped and thought he was going to die. With no motor, power steering or power brakes, he just had to sit there at the mercy of this crazed lunatic. Michael rang the Police emergency for help. "I am literally being pushed along the highway by an 18-wheeler." Michael, in desperation, wrenched the unpowered steering wheel and moved the car into the other lane to let the truck pass him. But Trimble followed him and slammed him again, pushing him up the highway like a bulldozer pushing dirt, but at 80km/h. Michael thought of jumping out of his car, even at that speed. As they came closer to the next hill, Michael saw another truck in the distance climbing slowly, and suddenly realised Trimble was going to crush him between the two trucks. This deathly situation had gone on for the last 20 minutes, and Michael saw no hope. That's when the police officer arrived and pulled the truck over. The officer approached cautiously with his gun drawn, wondering what sort of beast was behind the wheel. What did he find? A smallish 65-year-old man in a rage. When the policeman asked him the reason for the bizarre behaviour, all this seething grey-haired maniac could say was, "he cut me off." Trimble was later convicted of aggravated assault, assault, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, harassment, reckless driving and making an unsafe lane change -- along with "following too closely." That landed him in prison for two years. We ask the question, "How could anyone become so unjustifiably angry?" Prisons are full of people with that degree of rage. Eck had a wife and a two-year-old daughter. What could have been the outcome? Often we don't realise how much anger can accumulate within us. A stirring at the right time will bring it to the surface. Like all things that are counter to Christ's nature, anger is one thing that can cause immediate harm to others and is top of the list of things to keep addressing. James Trimble under other circumstance may have been a decent bloke, but not at this time, and not behind a wheel. You may be the same. Who do you become when you're behind the wheel?
Are you mostly in a hurry?
Is one hand on the wheel and the other on the horn?
Is your mouth ready to blast someone, even though your window is still up?
Do you look at other drivers when you pass them as if they are the enemy?
Do you get intense when late for an appointment?
Do you sit in the outside lane, not moving over for faster cars? (passive-aggressive)
How did you go? Do any of these questions hit home?
Why do I focus on road rage?
God tells us to rid ourselves of anger. When we don't release it through Jesus, it bottles up until it explodes in a way we feel most powerful, which will be our weakest spot.
Because a lot of our anger is manifested when we're behind the wheel. It channels out of us when we're protected by our shell of steel. We use our vehicle as a threatening wrench, feeling safer to let our rage loose due to door locks and windows!
Anger is allowed. It's a normal reaction. Both God and Jesus got angry. But righteously. That means it was controlled and pointed at evil, not just someone who annoyed them.
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, I have been unjustifiably angry on many occasions. Please help me to understand myself more and put on your garments of peace instead.