Taming of the Shrew

But nobody can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8 WEB)

In High School I was required to read Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare was wonderful with words both soothing and searing. I don’t remember any of the plots except for Romeo and Juliet because they made a movie out of it. I am a very visual learner.

I always like the title “Taming of the Shrew” but thought it was something akin to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom show. At one point in life I wanted to be a zoo keeper but my yard wasn’t large enough for the cages, elephants, and giraffes. I like giraffes. Then I needed to get a job and became an engineer.

Engineers are meticulous people. They like everything in order, categorized, quantified and sanitized. When looking over a piece of equipment each minute detail is recognized by the trained eye. By just walking into the room a well-trained engineer can sense problems before the normal operator knows something is remotely amiss.

With these skills at hand I entered the restroom at the transmitter site one day. My eyes noticed the soap by the sink was scratched. My mind ignored it as useless information. Preparing to make use of the facility I heard a noise. Quickly I looked toward the top of the toilet tank. With bubbles popping on his lips a soap chewing shrew smiled a greeting.

I backed out of the room, closed the door and announced loudly, “There’s a small rat on the toilet!”

George opened the door a crack and peeked in to confirm it was a small rodent. Closing the door he quantified and clarified it as a shrew. George was an expert on small creatures and a pretty good engineer as well.

I assessed the situation and decided reinforcements were in order. After I called the rest of the crew, Ken and Rich, came running into the transmitter hall. I explained the situation and we put our heads together to devise a plan of attack. When we stopped rubbing the bumps on our heads, from smacking our foreheads against one another, we started to think.

Four adults, each close to six feet tall or taller, educated, serving God on the mission field, were trying to figure out how to eradicate the life of one four inch shrew in the restroom. None of the technical manuals available contained anything about how to deal with small animals in large buildings terrifying God’s servants. It was a matter of prayer.

We bowed our heads and Rich noticed a large insulated electrician’s glove on the counter. That was the ticket. Smack the little beast into animal heaven. We were not about to have the message of salvation curtailed by a short tailed varmint. The great white hunters were ready to bag their quarry.

I poised the glove rakishly over my shoulder, ready for the attack. Rich and Ken crouched down to stand guard and prevent the monster from escaping. George cautiously opened the door, entered and scarred the shrew out the door into the hall interrupting the varmint’s dinner of Safeguard soap.

Corralled by my two colleagues the shrieking shrew turned my direction and made a run for freedom. Wham, down came the heavy leather glove on the sinister shrew. The blow was too much and the minuscule mouse plopped back to the floor unconscious.

We gathered around, insured our quarry wasn’t moving and congratulated one another on a job well done. Before he moved his four feet and regained consciousness our visitor was unceremoniously cast into the forest near the building. I’m sure he told his four footed friends never to go up against four engineers just to snack on soap. It was time to get back to the message of the Gospel.

I’m reminded of that small organ called the tongue. It’s usually hidden, always active and very difficult to tame. I’ve spent my entire life trying to tame that roaring beast sometimes successfully but often with failure. James talks a lot about the damage a few words can inflict.

Maybe I need to put a glove in my mouth from time to time to keep it in check. When it revives it may be a little gentler and in its proper place.

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