Have you ever repeated a word over and over to yourself until it sounded like caveman phonics, or alien language? Pretty weird, huh? Well, something similar happened to me one Sunday in church, only it wasn't a word, it was a body part. From where I was seated with my husband, only three rows up from the back, parts upon parts were visible.
For reasons I wouldn't have been able to explain at the time - the sermon wasn't boring or anything - I started zooming in on shoulders. I think it may have been contour that first caught my eye, but the more I focused on them, the odder they seemed. I mean, here's this globe head, after that a stem; and then some square lumps we call shoulders jut on out there, more or less at right angles.
I began speculating, "Wonder why God made shoulders?" Young women dressed in tunic and sandals walked across the screen of my mind while in a nearby field agricultural men labored under massive wood yokes.
"Hmmm... a possibility. But what about us in our day? God wouldn't leave modern folk out, would He? Let's see, mine are good to hang purse straps over, or for a place to pin Mother's Day orchids. To prevent jackets sliding off? I know! Shoulders are great proof humans didn't evolve!" But then I realized evolutionists would probably claim apes had pre-shoulders or something.
I argued with imaginary scientists, "Pre-shoulders, according to your way of reasoning, would only develop into actual shoulders for species survival."
"Yes," they intoned, dryly and nasally, "ancient apes staggering under the weight of armament developed bulges on the sides of their torsos that in turn gradually evolved into shoulders."
"But why would apes bear weapons?" I queried, working to keep my tone cordial, but firm. "Show me one ape with a quiver of arrows slung across his back and I'll show you... " Even though I couldn't think of what I would show them I felt triumphant, because they had no answer.
"Whack!" Pastor must have raised a welt on the podium with a triumph of his own, but it brought me back. "Oh, yes, we were in II Timothy, weren't we?" But I knew nothing important was going to happen until I got to the bottom of this body part thing.
"Well, then does God talk about shoulders in the Bible?" this time I interrogated me. (Really, the sermon was good that Sunday.)
Once home, I could hardly wait to heft good old Strong (I knew there was a reason for the name) to the dining room table. As soon as I got my breath, and my magnifying glass out, I went to work. The English word shoulder or shoulders had 61 entries: 55, OT - 2, NT. Mostly shoulders had a negative connotation: they had to work too hard, they were belligerent, or somebody was sacrificing those belonging to animals. A few times God was removing something from human ones and that was usually 'a good thing.'
Over the next few days my Sunday shoulder fixation got me thinking how God sometimes uses unorthodox methods of getting my attention. He works in strange ways or maybe He works with strange people, but I sensed He was trying to tell me something important here.
"To what use do I put my spiritual shoulders?" I asked. My word-study scriptures resonated.
When the Lord is trying to get my attention, do I "refuse to hearken, and pull away the shoulder, and stop my ears, that I should not hear?" (Zechariah 7:11) Do my thoughts drift aimlessly in prayer or quiet time? (Does my mind wander in church?)
"Are my shoulders pillows of comfort, or do I "thrust with side and with shoulder, and push all the diseased with my horns, till I have scattered them abroad?" as I read in Ezekiel. Have my thoughtless words ever run anyone off from church?
Do I "shoulder in" on private matters that don't concern me? Gossip?
Do I "bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but I myself will not move them with one of my fingers? Or do I "bear another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ?" Do I raise the bar for my friends, ask them to lower it when I come along? Do I want them to be there for me, but I'm too busy when they have a need?
Because I'm such a 'strong Christian' do I with pride carry my own burdens, or do I lay them on Jesus wide shoulders, "casting all my cares on Him, because He cares for me?" Do I toss and turn and worry, or give my problem to Him and leave it there?
"Well, I uh... " But the Master wasn't finished yet, tapping me on the shoulder.
"For what man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." (Luke 15:4-6)
This last one stung somewhat, because if I fall down anywhere in my Christian responsibilities it's in the area of witnessing and evangelizing. I make excuses, like, "That's not my gift," or "I'm just naturally too laid back." If pressed, I can even come up with scriptures to strengthen my case.
Now I'm not going to build systematic theology from this experience, but was it truly the Lord elbowing me, or am I just getting peculiar in my old age? My answer is another question, "Does anything reach us unsifted through the Lord's fingers? Are we accidental children walking a random path, or on-purpose progeny the Lord excercises in unique ways, even bizarre if He feels that's what will work to our good?
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13.
We are to work out what God works in us. In this instance it was shoulders He used to spark my curiosity causing me to dig for the rhema of His word.
One of the Lord's attributes I love best is that He is ever surprising me: with his nudges and gentle pokes, and His matchless sense of humor He manages to prick my heart in a way nothing else, no one else ever could.
Parts, He has taught me, is so much more than mere parts.
A Christian woman saved by grace. I've been writing seriously for about 5 years. Recently I have focused mostly on bible studies though I have in the past written spontaneous humor peices about my pets. Nature themes that correspond to spiritual lessons are among my favorite things to write about.
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