Tuesday, September 6, 2011
"He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing." - Proverbs 29:1
I have ancient Hebrew stiff-neck syndrome.
Just the other night I was carrying our 3-yr.-old David on my shoulders. For some reason, whenever he gets on my shoulders, David digs his little pointy claws into any head-orifice he can find. He's like a mountain-climber desperately clinging for purchase. So my eyes, ears and nose pay a price that should only be payed by rock faces.
But all this clinging causes him to put most of his weight on my head and not my shoulders. For this reason, turning my head is an impossibility. I walk like I've had a few too many drinks, and occasionally when he's clinging to my eyeballs I walk into stuff, much to the amusement of others.
So there's your visual of me with a stiff neck. And I have no idea how it applies to all the instances of stiff-neck syndrome in scripture. Perhaps the ancient Hebrews carried their kids on their heads and knew what a pain in the neck it was (I couldn't resist, even though I should if I ever want to be published).
My guess is the neck illustration has something to do with being guided. That to have a stiff neck would be like hollering at me to check out the magnificent rainbow on my immediate left when I have David on my shoulders. David, upon hearing you, against all reason and terrified that I'm about to move my head, would meet out his method of facial/head torture and grab a handful of lip, hair and ear. I'd miss the rainbow for sure. And you would have done something quite unkind to me. Enjoy your rainbow, jerk.
Apparently, God wants us to have loose necks. He wants to be mobile, experience life, walk in his ways and, as the verse above states, to be open to being reproved. Life is full of obstacles, stumbling blocks AND things that God wants us to experience and see. We often over-emphasise resisting and running from evil (as if this is something we can do on our own) when what we really need is God and his guidance.
Typically I'm so busy pursuing my goals and ambitions, that when God asks me to pause, breathe and take a look around, I stiff-neck him.
To take another look at it, I'm that kid on God's shoulders desperately clinging and directing because I don't trust that God has really got me.
And to look at it from another angle, I doubt his love because of my own repeated sins and stiff neck. I doubt that God could love someone who has a constant bent towards evil (that's the best way to express it). And I doubt that God can turn my stiff neck.
And on an asside from that angle (I give you permission to be totally lost by now), I also believe my repentance earns God's love. I believe that I must turn my head on my own. But what precedes repentance is God's great mercy and love (not to mention patience). Repentance is a gift of grace.
While I'm talking about God loosening necks I'm reminded of the times I've put my head in the hands of a chiropractors. For some reason, no matter what my ailment - "I think I have a foot-fungus Doc" - they try to snap my head off.
To borrow from the chiropractor metaphor, I'm trusting that if I put my head in God's hands today, that he will show me life and he will get rid of those silly cricks that keep me thinking that life is about getting this and life is about having that. For life, all of life, comes into focus when we realize that the one who cradles our heads, lets us scramble up on his shoulders and see (to mix up my metaphors into a pasty mush), is our life.
God-life. I guess it's the cure for ancient Hebrew stiff-neck syndrome. And it's what I need today to live in his world.
(Note on picture above: Man I wish I had found this before I'd written the post. This picture pretty much sums up everything I tried to do in writing about stiff-neck syndrome and riding on God's shoulders. Then I wouldn't have had to write anything and wouldn't have gotten so lost in my plethora of metophors and assides.)