Friday, December 22, 2017

"The Anti-Prayers of a Tantrum Thrower"

Habakkuk 2.19-20 NLT

“What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols, ‘Wake up and save us!’ To speechless stone images you say, ‘Rise up and teach us!’

Can an idol tell you what to do? They may be overlaid with gold and silver, but they are lifeless inside. But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.

How could they do it? How could they have been so blind and stupid? What were the Israelites of Habakkuk’s world thinking? Why did they pray to idols? Did they really expect “speechless stone images” to respond?

Why didn’t they pray to the living “Lord [who was] in his holy Temple”? They could have spoken to Someone who cared! Instead they talked to elements of gold, silver, wood, and stone. That was dumb. They should have known better.

I should know better too. But I’ve caught myself praying to idols. I’m often in a hurry and crowd too much activity into my day. I have tried to haul a heavy briefcase in one hand and balance a coffee cup in the other, while attempting to open an uncooperative door with my elbow. The cell phone seems to ring in moments like these. I grope in the general direction of the ring tone, drop my briefcase, spill my coffee, scrape my shoes on the door frame, and, of course, miss the call.

I curse at my phone. Who am I talking to? When I say “damn it,” who is the “it” I am damning? In younger years, I would actually yell at, kick, throw, or break an inanimate object. I played the role of God, directing my (not-so-holy) wrath at a material thing. I decided the object of my anger was out to get me and thereby empowered it with personality and purpose. I declared war on a “lifeless” piece of “gold and silver” or plastic, wood, and iron. What was I thinking? Was I thinking?

Cursing is a type of prayer and rage a form of idol worship. Call it the anti-prayers of a tantrum thrower. This type of idolatry and senseless speech is not always dramatic or readily observable. It can be subtle. General irritability, grouchiness, griping, moping around, bad attitude, snappiness, the silent treatment, under-the-breath slurs, disrespect, moroseness, pessimism, boredom, and moodiness may all be early signs of a pre-tantrum fit. When we become angry with circumstances, events, places, and things, instead of recognizing “they are lifeless inside” as the Bible teaches, we attribute life to them and direct our negative prayer energy toward “speechless stone images.” That’s a waste of time and, worse, a from of idolatry. Why do we do it?

When “lifeless” things do not go my way, Jesus may be trying to get my attention and teach me something about self-control. I should stop, shut up, and listen…

“The Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”


JT said...

Most times this happens quickly before we have time to think. It is like hitting your hand with the hammer when you are aiming for the nail. God bless you.

Dave Scriven said...

good insight, JT.