Then the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying, “Say to the Israelites, ‘Appoint the cities of refuge, of which I spoke to you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person without intent or by mistake may flee there; they shall be for you a refuge from the avenger of blood.’” - Joshua 20:1–3
This a truly amazing idea. When factions fought, be they families or individuals, and someone was killed by accident, there were cities that were to be places of sanctuary for the person who killed the other. There would still be a hearing and a judgment, but the point of the sanctuary city was to let some time go by and tempers settle before any kind of decision was made about what to do with the one who had done the killing. Revenge would not be had, furthering the feud, and the decision of what to do would not be made in anger.
What a great idea!
How often do we act out of anger and wish we’d instead allowed ourselves to calm down a bit? How many times do we wish we hadn’t written that angry message and hit the “Send” button, or posted that angry comment on social media? How often have we reacted instead of responded? There’s a difference, after all.
Having a space and a time to allow for anger to pass before something is said or done is really a wise idea, for too often when something is done out of anger it leads to less than ideal results. God knew this and offered a place of refuge in order to allow for heads and hearts to simmer down before people did anything. That’s wisdom.
Whether it’s a literal “time out,” taking a deep breath and counting to ten, writing a draft response and letting it sit for a bit and coming back to it later, or walking away from a situation before you do or say anything, it is always a wise decision to allow for anger to quell and the temperature to go down a bit.
Can you imagine how different things would be if everyone did this?
God of Calm, help us to still the storms within our heads and hearts before we let words pass or lips or act in ways we wish we hadn’t.