Testing the Impossible

When Fear and Faith Collide

I Just Don’t Wanna

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Two months…  it’s been two months since I’ve logged in to this site. That’s so long ago that I actually had to look up my log-in information. Good thing I had the foresight to record it in a safe place, I guess. Time and time again over the past two months, several topics to write about have come to my mind: fleeting thoughts about a Sunday message; song lyrics that pierce my heart; dreams half-remembered in the light of morning; midnight epiphanies that wake me from a deep sleep, only long enough to say, ‘OH! So that’s what this is all about! Thank you, Lord. May I go back to sleep now?’ And yet I have consistently and persistently managed to find meaningless fluff to prevent me from actually writing. In fact, when I logged in just a few short moments ago, I was still unsure what to write about today. I just knew that I have been avoiding this for far too long. Which I guess means that I know what I’m supposed to write about…

I have vertebral problems. They’re chronic. Sometimes the inflammation goes away for months at a time. In fact, I think I may have made it for an entire year once. But it always comes back – always. My greatest problem arises from the fact that the two vertebrae directly beneath the base of my skull are out of alignment – in opposite directions. Why am I telling you this? Because this was one of those ‘midnight epiphanies’.

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me (or maybe it is; I honestly don’t know), but submission is a major struggle for me. Anyone who’s read my other posts should be well aware of this by now, but it really does need to be repeated. My parents could easily confirm for any doubters: I was their strong-willed, not gonna back down, you can tell me til you’re blue in the face but i’m gonna do it anyway, kid. If you want me to do something, the best way to ensure I will is to tell my I can’t. Ask me nicely, and I might; tell me I have to? Don’t hold your breath waiting on me, because you’ll pass out. To say that I have a stubborn streak would be like calling the Colorado River a brook: a gross understatement. But there are people who know and love me who will tell you that this is an area where I am growing and improving. I am learning how to bend and yield.

I realize that this is a character trait that God has crafted in me; it is part of His unique design that is ME. But what I often forget is that this iron will of mine is to be used for Him; too often I am hell-bent on using it against Him. Knowing what He is desiring from me, and yet refusing to yield. Wait… how did we get from my chronic pain to my stubborn resistance of what God is calling me to? That was the midnight ‘ah-HA!’ moment.

I AM A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE.

Literally.

Look through scripture; God used that phrase, ‘a stiff-necked people’, many, many times about His favored nation of Israel (Exodus, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, Acts…) Seriously, hop on over to Biblegateway.com and do a keyword search; you might be surprised. And every time God applied that description to His people, it was because they were persisting in a state of rebellion, faithlessness, disobedience, and unyielding hearts. EVERY. TIME.

Think about it: when your neck is stiff, you cannot easily move your head, can you? It hurts to look to the left or the right. And it hurts to look down. Israel’s problem was that they refused to bow their heads before the King of kings and acknowledge their place before Him. They were ok with having their god (small ‘g’ intentional, so no snarky comments 🙂 ), but they kicked and fought and rebelled again and again against having a Lord and Master.

I AM A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE.

How many times do I refuse to bow my head to my God and my King? How many times to I refuse to surrender my will to His, always holding a part of me back? Always saying, ‘Ok Lord. You can have —>|this much|<— of me, but I can’t let You have everything, or there will be nothing left for me.’ Saying, ‘I know what You’re asking of me is for Your best and mine. I know that this is a blessing and I should be honored. But I don’t want it; give it to someone else.’ (I feel like Moses: why me, Lord? I don’t talk too good. Send my brother instead. But that is a subject for another day…)

I AM A STIFF-NECKED PEOPLE.

That was the very phrase that woke me up around 3:00 am about a month ago, neck aching and headache threatening. And in those precious early-morning moments before drifting back to sleep, I heard my God say, softly and gently, ‘There’s a connection between the two, you know.’ God was being figurative regarding Israel, using the term ‘stiff-necked’ to illuminate a heart condition. But figurative speech is apparently too subtle for me; He has literally made my neck stiff as a reminder that I need to daily (hourly, moment by moment) bow my head before Him and acknowledge Him not only as God, but as Lord of my life.

Know what the most beautiful part of that awakening was? The pain of my stiff neck will leave when I am no longer stiff-necked. How do I know? Because God said so. And amen and amen, He is faithful!

I am letting go of my need to be in control. I am learning to bow my head before my King. It is not an easy thing to do, but as Chris Tomlin says: ‘As I pour out my heart, these things I remember, You are faithful, God, forever’.

Dear Lord, heal this stiff-necked person.

 

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