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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dealing With a Stiff-Necked People

At the beginning of last month, I fell asleep with my neck in an odd position. I awoke with a stiff neck that lasted for days. The stiffness crept into my shoulders and up my head. Within two days I was incapacitated. Pressure built and my head felt like it was in a vice grip. Heating pads, ice packs proved worthless. I stretched the muscles, tried hot salt soaks but the stiffness worsened. I was driven by intense pain and numbness to seek medical attention.

The chiropractor cracked my neck one way and then the other. I felt much better as I left his office, but not completely restored. The next day, sitting reading, my neck went out of place again. The thunder returned to my head, eyes, and ears, followed by excruciating pain. Back to the chiropractor.

The chiropractic adjustment made a significant improvement, but I was still only at about 50% restored. I called out to God, I changed pillows, and I tried ice packs and heat treatments. This made living with a stiff neck bearable but I was still hurting. I spent almost three weeks flat on my back with a heating pad or ice pack.

Then I sought the Lord with intent. I had been reading in Numbers about the Israelites and how often God called them a “stiff-necked people.” He then showed me that I was not only stiff-necked in a physical sense, but spiritually. He’d given me a set of instructions several months back and I still had not complied. I brushed it off for a variety of reasons but God wanted me to do these things.

He didn't show me this in a negative way, but as a loving Father who is trying to get me back into close fellowship with Him. He longed to bless me, but could not until I confronted my disobedience. He wanted my attention; He got it.

If you’ve gone through a similar experience, getting back on track is simple, but painful for a moment.

1) Admit you’re stiff-necked. It’s an ugly word, carrying the following implications: stubborn, obstinate, intractable (hard to control, hard to handle), and pigheaded. I never had the sense that God was revealing this to me in an authoritarian “snap His fingers” manner. He showed it as a loving correction. He offered it in the spirit of gentleness, love, and restoration.

2) Let God circumcise your heart. In the book of Numbers, God speaks about circumcision of the heart. Circumcision is the cutting away of flesh (which represents self) from our most intimate part. Ask God to circumcise you heart, to cut away everything that hinders your intimate fellowship.

3) Begin the journey. This, I think, is where most of us get stuck. It’s a human thing to want to pay for our wrongdoing to show how sorry we are. Only with God, He already knows it. He doesn't require self-flagellation, only repentance. Knowing this, all that is left for us to do is to accept His forgiveness and instruction, learn the right lesson, dust ourselves off, and start anew.

What was interesting about the experience is that as long as I refused to acknowledge my own stubbornness, I remained stiff-necked. Knowing full well what God was instructing me to do, I stuck it out for over a month before pain and desperation drove me to my knees. Last night, I prayed, repented, received His forgiveness and instruction, and went to bed. This morning I woke completely free of pain; stiff neck gone in the physical and in the spiritual sense.

Bless His holy Name!

1 comment:

Jenny Mertes said...

What a lesson the Father taught you - thank you for sharing it. I understand the pain of a stiff neck in the physical sense but had never thought to translate that into the state of my heart.

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