Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Exodus 32:9:

"The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are."

I got off the phone a few nights ago with someone who was exasperated with the health of a person in his extended family. We all have them in our circle of extended family and friends. The person who can't seem to give up smoking despite being on oxygen for emphysema, the person who got the six-vessel bypass graft and seems dead set on clogging it up again, the person who won't cut down or quit drinking so much, the person who the word "diet" is meaningless.

Many of us are at an age where we are caregivers for the elderly or infirm, and there is the constant battle there--"forgetting" to take medicine, driving when they shouldn't be, checking him/herself AWOL from the hospital, or assisted living place, telling the caregiver one thing and the doctor another--well, the list is endless.

Others are dealing with stiff-necked-ness in the next generation--everything from toddlers sticking their hand on hot coals despite saying "No, no--that's hot," to teenagers who promised to be home at 11 p.m. who are still out and about at 1:30 a.m.

We are, indeed, a stiff-necked people.

It's an old, old refrain..."You're not the boss of me."

When you get right down to it, we're not any better at obeying God than we are at obeying anyone else.

Sometimes, I think it's that word "obey" that sticks in our collective craws. It sounds like dog training.

Let's look at that word a moment. The Latin root for the word "obey" is oboedio, which is more literally translated into "To listen and comply." If we go back further into the Hebrew, a word that is frequently translated into "obey" in English is the Hebrew word shamar, which means to listen and act upon what is heard.

In short, obeying is not simply "submitting." It means to hear something in a way we didn't hear it before, and to DESIRE to change as a result of having heard it differently, and thereby changing...and really, all we ever willingly obey, is love. Sure, people "submit" to fear by their actions but their hearts and minds are not on board. Let's look at that word..."submit" well. It is actually a combination of two Latin roots, "sub" (as in "under") and "mittere" (to send.) It is simply the action of "sending ourselves under" the will of something else.

It's an interesting concept to think that we are changed and others are changed by LISTENING rather than saying or doing or arranging or orchestrating.

When we see things in others that we think need to be changed...

1. How much did we listen to God about that, before we set out to working on it? Does that other person need to be changed, or do WE need to be changed?
2. If we felt we were supposed to be part of that agent of change, are we really listening to what that person is telling us about "where he/she is at the moment?"
3. When we set out to be part of the change, have we considered how to say it or do it in a way that opens the other person up to truly LISTENING, or do we keep doing or saying in the way we are accustomed to doing/saying it?

When we see things in ourselves that we think need to be changed...

1. Again, how much have we discussed this with God FIRST?
2. What has God placed in front of us for our consideration already? What might he have told us that we promptly ignored?
3. Are we truly listening to what those we love and trust are telling us?

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we all listened instead of trying to steer all the time.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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