Toddler Tantrums or Steady Maturity?

Gloria Gaither, songwriter and poet, in her book Because He Lives, writes about an incident when her son, Benjy, was a toddler. He was enjoying a happy day at a birthday party. He and his grandma were playing at baseball; she gently lobbing the ball toward him, he swinging the bat.  That sweet moment evaporated into a toddler tantrum as the bat went crashing to the ground accompanied by a wail of angry frustration.  “Grandma! You missed again. You missed my bat again!”   

Ever thrown a toddler tantrum, blaming all the world around you for the frustration you feel?  Have you ever lashed out angrily at your spouse, blaming that person for your choice gone wrong? Something like – “I only took this job because you wanted to move to this town and now look at the mess we’re in.”

Probably just about every Christian who ever prayed has hurled angry words at God when disappointed, hurting, grieving, or failing at life. “Where are YOU? Why don’t YOU help me?”  Ah, those tantrums are ugly, damaging, and keep us from finding answers to our very real problems.  You know the story of Job, don’t you?  He had reason to be angry with God if ever anyone did.  He was a “righteous man” meaning he pleased God and lived in a right relationship with Him.  

But, life went inexplicably upside down. Within a short time he lost his wealth, his children were killed in accidents, his skin developed painful boils head to toe, and his wife despised him, urging him to “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)  His ‘friends’ showed up and were so overwhelmed by his plight they sat in silence for days before launching into long rants that accused Job of some secret sin, something that would explain the tragedy. They urged him to humble himself and repent; except that there was nothing to say since he was ‘righteous.’ 

We know the back story. Job was caught in a spiritual battle in the heavens.  It is a tough story for us to grasp, but the short of it is that Satan (the accuser) came to the Lord God and said of Job – “You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”    “Job only loves you because life is good.” (Job 1:10) God gave Satan permission to take all that Job had except his life, for He knew he truly loved Him, not for the blessings but for Who He is!  Oh, yes, Job felt the awful, the pain, and he finally did cry out to God for answers and the reply of Heaven was basically – “You have to Trust Me and keep faith!” And, he did.

Christian, we need to grow up and learn to stand before God, our faith rock solid even when we are swept by the storms and troubles that are common to the human experience. And, we need to pray for the maturity to admit when we are failing, or we have not developed the skills, or we just want to be more than we are. If we refuse that maturity, we risk looking the fool, or worse, disgracing our God, when we throw a major toddler tantrum that damages relationships, weakens faith, and ignores reality.

Can God point to you as exhibit #1 of steadfast faith and deep devotion- not because He’s blessed you with a good life, but because you love Him – ‘heart, soul, mind and strength?’  Don’t confuse attempting moral perfection or some false piety with that kind of devotion.  This kind of love of God is robust, a daily choice to rely on the goodness, mercy, and grace of God that never fails. When you walk through the dark days, endure the awful, and live with disappointment, do you blame, accuse, and demand or submit, surrender, and stay steady?  Oh that we would learn the deep faith of Job who declared to his false accusers – “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.” (Job 13:14-16, KJV)   I trust Him. I am open before Him. My hope is the life He gives.

On a human to human level, do you readily accept responsibility for your part in the circumstances in which you find yourself?  Or, like so many today, are you ready to play the victim, to wait for a rescuer, to demand that somebody somewhere fix life for you?  I love the model of AA, which reaches out to that person who has ‘hit bottom,’ who has finally understood he is powerless over his addiction. But, AA does not offer excuses or rationalizations for the addiction. The program invites responsibility that is matched with support from others who have found grace to recover.   Here are some of the 12 Steps. Note the emphasis on matching God’s grace with a willingness to take personal responsibility for change.  Steps 3 through 9 are these:

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Let’s grow up in Christ. How about taking an inventory today. 

Perhaps you had really terrible parents who hurt you badly.
There is a Father who can heal you. Let Him.

Perhaps your spouse was an awful person and left you broken.
God restores broken hearts. Let Him.

Perhaps your expectations of life are set on all the wrong things and you lack spiritual insight. 
God heals blinded eyes. Let Him.

Perhaps you feel like a failure and have quit on life, concluding that the system is rigged against you. 
God rebuilds people and sees potential in you. Let Him.

Perhaps some sin weighs you down with guilt and you deal with it by excusing, blaming, or hiding.
God forgives unconditionally through Christ. Let Him.

Here’s a word from the Word. “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done. Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ. For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe.” (Colossians 2:6-10, NLT)

You accept Him by faith alone.

Now grow up in Him by faith, too!

_________________________

God Is So Good (You Are Worthy)

No height or depth can separate
Your steadfast love who can escape
Your faithfulness an endless sea
So full of grace and mercy

We sing God is so good
God is so good
God is so good
He’s so good to me

Haunted by the past no more
My innocence has been restored
Forgiveness flows from Your veins
Your kindness shown in all Your ways

(Oh there’s) never been anyone like You
Never been anyone like You
You are worthy You are worthy


Hope is rising like the sun
The old is gone the new has come
I fix my eyes on Christ alone
My Rock my Shield my Cornerstone

God You are good
God You are good
God You’re so good
You’re so good to me

Interlude

God You’re so good always good to me

God is so good
He’s so good to me
God You’re so good
You’re so good to me


Ben Smith | Daniel Bashta | Pat Barrett
© 2017 Capitol CMG Genesis (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

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Vamos Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Go Forth Sounds (Admin. by Heritage Worship Publishing)

Bread & Wine Sounds (Admin. by Watershed Music Publishing)

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