Nehemiah said: “And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your ordinances, by the observance of which a person shall live. They turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years you were patient with them, and warned them by your spirit through your prophets; yet they would not listen.” (Nehemiah 9:26-38).
Nehemiah might not think that things have changed much were he to visit us today. In our own way we turn a stubborn shoulder and stiffen our necks and don’t obey the Lord. Even with the new covenant, the new life in Christ, we find it difficult to be obedient. One reason that we act this way is very innocent. We don’t take time.
Many marriages grow stagnant because the husband and wife don’t spend enough time communicating with each other. With the focus on children, job or career, and outside activities it’s difficult to spend much time on the spousal relationship. There is a growing apart instead of a growing together. We must spend time on our relationship with God or we will grow apart from Him. What does this mean? It means that no matter what is going on in our lives, we must spend time daily nourishing our relationship with Him and acting on His commandment to love others as He loves us.
Can we commit to spending time each day finding ways to spiritually nourish ourselves? We must. We say, “Oh, I think about God a lot.” But are we praying, meditating, studying His word, or otherwise improving our communications with God each day? We cannot be obedient to God if we are not regularly refreshing ourselves in Him. We can’t afford to trust our memory. It has proven to be unreliable.
If a stubborn shoulder or a stiffened neck is harmful in a marriage, it is devastating in our relationship with God. A right relationship with God is the best thing for a marriage, for if we are spiritually attuned to God, we will live out our spousal and family relationship as it should be lived. All aspects of our lives are impacted by our relationship with the Lord. The world does need love. God has put us in charge, as He has each generation, of showing the world that He loves each of us. This is hard to do with a stiff neck and a stubborn shoulder.