When I was a young girl struggling with growing pains, I often found myself with a terribly stiff neck. The treatment was always the same, a trip to the chiropractor, application of smelly medication, and a tacky pin-fastened towel around my neck. Now that I am in my senior years, it seems as though everything is stiff and achy. Arthritis and years of overuse combine to remind me daily that my body is aging, my joints don’t work as well as they once did, my bones are not as strong. Although I may have to tolerate the physical stiffness that accompanies aging, I must always be on guard against developing a spiritual arthritis.
Time and time again God chastens His people Israel, reminding them that they are prone to the development of a stiff neck. The term used in the Hebrew language would immediately paint a vivid picture for the Israelites. The word referred to the familiar plowing process that they would witness every day. An Old Testament-era plow was drawn by two oxen, with a plowmen directing the plow with one hand, while carrying an ox goad in the opposite hand. On the tip of that ox goad was a sharp, iron spike. If the plowman wanted to turn the plow, he would apply the spike to the ox’s hind leg or neck area. If the ox was stubborn and resisted the plowman’s direction, he was considered “hard of neck,” the same term God used to describe His people. We would say inflexible, obstinate, headstrong, not to be led, or just plain stubborn. God was angered when His people would not respond to His guidance or submit to His lordship. They often preferred the rebellious road of self-direction, and as difficult as it is to admit, I can be prone to the same sin.
When we feel the gentle prick of the ox goad, let’s be submissive, allowing the Holy Spirit to control every aspect of our lives. He will always lead us in a path that is best for us. I want to be responsive to that loving nudge, aligning my direction with His will for my life. If we don’t “lean on our own understanding” and acknowledge His lordship in our lives, He promises to “direct” our paths. Our field will always be perfectly plowed and ready to bring forth fruit, if we are yielding to the Plowman’s course for our lives.
Exodus 32:9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
Help me, Lord, to be pliable, always willing to follow Your lead in my life. Sometime my neck can become stiff as I rebel against Your will in my life. Help me always to be mindful of the gentle prodding of Your Holy Spirit. May I always respond in submission, knowing that Your way is best for me.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-184-63d7d22653369' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=184&origin=wp.blog.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-184-63d7d22653369' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-184-63d7d22653369' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>