Continuing with our chiropractic theme…let me tell you about some creative ways God is using to speak with me lately.
Last week in our online retreat, the readings invited us to look for the examples of people around us who seem to be in harmony with the end for which we are created. In previous readings, it was suggested that the end for which we are created is to praise, reverence and serve God and that God created all the rest of creation to help us achieve that purpose. Here is the quote from Ignatius:
We should use God’s gifts of creation however they help us in achieving the end for which we were created, and we ought to rid ourselves of whatever gets in the way of our purpose.
In order to do this we must make ourselves indifferent to all creation, to the extent that we do not desire health more than sickness, riches more than poverty, honor more than dishonor, a long life more than a short life, or anything at all in and of itself. We should desire and choose only what helps us attain the end for which we were created.
With my recent struggles with migraines and my attempts to conquer them, the idea that perhaps I was “desiring health more than sickness” certainly occurred to me. As I said in one of my recent posts, I have been searching to find the lesson or blessing that God has for me in the midst of this challenge. Remember, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” How am I living out the purpose for which I was created and what gets in the way of me achieving that purpose? Have my recent struggles turned my focus inward to the extent that I am no longer focused on praising, reverencing and serving God?
These are the thoughts that are floating around in my brain as I completed last week’s visits to the chiropractor this past Friday. As the doctor and I are discussing my progress, he is messing around with my neck and says to me something along the lines of the following:
Your neck has been stiff for a long time. It will take some time to heal, but you are definitely making progress.
So, if you have even a passing familiarity with Exodus, you can see already where I am going with this. However, with my focus being on my neck at that moment, it took me a full 10 hours to “hear” it.
In Exodus, when Moses and the Israelites are wandering around in the desert, God often refers to these hard-headed, stubborn, unrepentant, rebellious people as being a “stiff-necked” people. The context of these conversations between Moses and God often includes Moses reminding God that they are His people and God telling Moses that, although He would like to slap them all for being such a bunch of knuckleheads, He will indeed keep His promises to them. Knuckleheads is not actually straight from scripture, but it seems like a good word to describe the tone of God’s frustration with these folks. I love the conversation between God and Moses in Exodus 33.
I remember a previous bible study where I first learned the term “stiff-necked.” Beth Moore said that stiff-necked was actually a farming term that described how the stubborn oxen would stiffen their neck so that their master could not put the yoke on them. Without the yoke firmly in place, the master could not guide and steer the oxen in the way that they should go. Without the yoke, the oxen would not submit to the master’s authority. I found 19 scriptures on Bible Gateway that contained the words “stiff-necked.” Here are some of the words associated with stiff-necked: hard-hearted, rebellious, stubborn, refused to listen, arrogant, did not pay attention, uncircimcised hearts and ears, and resistant to the Holy Spirit.
So Friday evening, I am driving in my car and talking to God. As my SUV is often a sanctuary for me, this was not unusual. I am thinking again about what blessing I might be getting from the headaches and the conversation with the doctor pops into my head. When I recalled the words about my stiff neck, I about drove off the road. I suppose this would be the downside of having conversations with God while driving.
Like many of us, I have issues with authority. Like all of us, I still often struggle with God’s authority even though I know better. I still want to be my own god. While most of the particulars are between me and God, let’s just say that the stiff-necked metaphor was certainly appropriate to my situation. If the yoke fits… Anyway, it became clear to me that God might be able to use my visits to the chiropractor in more ways than just the obvious. In another total “coincidence,” I confirmed today while talking with my chiropractor that he is indeed a Christian, church shopping and his family visited our church last week. Isn’t God unbelievably creative and funny? I LOVE that about Him!!
Although God knows that we can be so maddeningly stiff-necked, here is what Jesus says about wearing His yoke in Matthew 11:29-30. I so love this verse:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Rest and peace (and maybe the cure for stiff necks!) come from wearing His yoke and letting Him be God. He is so much better at it than I am.