By Chaplain George Nix
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
– James 1:19
Did you ever wonder where the expression “flying off the handle” came from? It is first found in Thomas C. Haliburton’s The Attaché; or, Sam Slick in England, 1843: “He flies right off the handle for nothing.” Writing.org explains: “… the allusion is to that of an ax flying off its handle. Imagine if you were cutting a tree with an ax, and the metal part of the ax suddenly flew off the handle. It would happen very quickly and be very dangerous.”
What if I get my ax ready to chop down a tree, and I spend hours meticulously sharpening the ax, and I forget to make sure it’s firmly attached? Yes, you guessed it. It’s “an accident waiting to happen.”
I raise the ax in the air, and summoning my strength I take a swing, but all that hits the tree is the wooden handle. The sharp metal part is zooming towards a window. I turn to react, but it’s too late.
And so it is with our reactions… If I only work on knowledge in my life, and I’m not grounded, at peace with God and my lot in life, I won’t be ready to react right. It’s a matter of preparation. Deciding in advance a plan of action. I resolve to listen first. Take a deep breath, think and pray. Then… I will speak. Hopefully the ax will stay in one piece!