Stubbornness has defined who I was in the past. Yep! That would be me! Stubborn as all get out. Dig in those heels and stand firm. I could so easily slide back into this behavior without keeping my eyes upon Jesus.
In our walk together over the past few weeks, we have stopped along the way to discover how we can become rebellious of heart. It starts with hurts. And we have seen how those hurts, well-watered, turn into bitterness. Then anger. And today, we stop and take a look at stubbornness.
Stubbornness is a choice.
Most of us defend our stubbornness, and we are quite proud of it. We claim that we are fixed in our ways. It is just who we are. There are even some people who credit their nation of origin to their stubbornness. The funny part is that we actually laugh along with them and agree that it is truth.
You might hear someone say, “I’m a hard-headed Dutchman!” Missouri is proud to be known as the “Show Me State.” “I’m too stubborn to die.” It is as though we can justify our bad behavior away.
I grew up in a large family – four brothers and one sister. My brothers picked on me nonstop growing up and I allowed their tomfoolery to slowly kill who I was in Christ and I allowed hurt, bitterness, anger, stubbornness and then rebellion to start defining who I was.
I remember one night that I just blew up. I went into a full-blown case of rebellion quickly. The setting was in our family living room watching television. You have to picture this as a setting in the 60’s – the channel changer was me. I changed the channels and also went outside to readjust the antenna so that my brothers could enjoy their television shows! We were probably watching “Gunsmoke” or maybe “Bonanza.” I was so tired of my brothers getting to watch the shows that they wanted to and the name-calling – “you are just a girl” – “girls don’t have a say” and on and on it would go. By this time, I more than likely mouthed off about it to my Dad. Whatever the altercation, I was asked to go to my room (a room that I shared with my sister).
As any young teenage girl of 13 or 14 years old would do, I made a statement by slamming the door. Well needless to say, my Dad came to the door, he couldn’t open it. Why? I had locked it too! My Dad asked me to open the door. So I decided at that point it would be in my best interest to unlock the door.
In a kind and loving way, my Dad asked me to say that I was sorry for slamming the door. No way! I had opened the door for him – but I wasn’t going to say “Sorry.”
He walked away and I thought, “I won that one!”
Well, a few minutes later my Dad shows up again with a screwdriver and hammer and proceeds to take the door off. He told me it would stay off until I was able to apologize for being rude to him.
Six months later, I was tired of not having a door to close in my bedroom. Needless to say, my sister was probably tired of that too. So I made a choice to say that I was sorry for my behavior.
The door was put back up.
In the book of Hosea in the Old Testament, the Prophet Hosea was called to bring an indictment against the children of God if they chose to continue to be stubborn and unwilling to listen to the voice of God. In chapter 4:16, Hosea compared the people to a “stubborn heifer.”
Anyone who has been out on a ranch working with heifers know and understand how stubborn that they can be. I don’t work with cows, but we have friends that do – and the word out there is: “Heifers are stubborn.” The picture of stubbornness here is that of a backsliding heifer pushing her front hooves into the ground to counteract her master who is trying to push or pull her forward.
Hosea 4:16 – “Israel is stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. So should the Lord feed her like a lamb in a lush pasture?” NLT
Stubbornness was about to cut off the people of Israel from their God. At this point in history, they were refusing to seek God’s will or even to listen to His Word.
When we insist upon going our own way we will build walls up to keep others away from our hearts. That includes keeping God far away from our hearts too. A stubborn heart does this regardless of the consequences that will be up ahead. We even insist at times that stubbornness gives us an excuse (or maybe even a right) to do the things we shouldn’t do and even at times what we really don’t want to do – but like a “heifer” we are going to pull back and fight. Even though we know it is hurting others and ourselves. We want our own way and we are unwilling to admit that we might be wrong.
How do we overcome stubbornness?
Basically, we must have a change of heart. We must be willing to admit that we are wrong. We must be willing to apologize for our behavior. It is a choice.
Amazingly enough in the New Testament in I Corinthians 13 – it tells us about the way of love. Stubbornness is not listed as a way of love. I know because I have checked it out many times – it is not there!
I am living proof of what God can do to clean up a person. You don’t have to live with hurts, bitterness, anger, and stubbornness – just waiting for that final blow up of “Rebellion.” My God is just and faithful to forgive me of sins – I just have to come to Him and ask.
God is in the business of changing hearts. Yes, it can be painful at times – but oh the relief when you finally let it go. It’s a feeling like nothing else – like being able to soar through the sky or maybe a lazy day by a rippling brook staring up at the clouds sipping an ice cold Southern sweet tea. Nothing compares to it.
Psalm 37:3-6 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” ESV
Spend time with God – learn to trust him – learn to recognize his voice. Delight yourself in the Lord. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to lead you out of a messy life and into a life of peace and joy.
For FUN: A mother repeatedly told her little boy to sit down. The boy continued to stand, disobeying his mother. Finally, the mother went to him, and plopped him down in a chair. Fuming, the boy said, “I may be sitting down on the OUTSIDE, but I am standing on the INSIDE!” (Unknown)
Heavenly Father, There is no feeling in this life that compares with truly knowing You. The comfort, the peace, the joy, and the love are out of this world! Father God, thank you for showing me the way to Your Heart. Thank you for showing me how I need to let go of hurts, bitterness, anger, stubbornness, and rebellion. Thank you for showing me what love is all about. I pray for those who are running from Your Love. Help them to turn around and come running back to Your Arms – the Arms of Love. I love you Lord. I ask this in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.