I left the store with the can of spray paint; it glared at me from the counter for days, until I could stand it no longer, and impatience began to set in. Pat was working long hours and hadn’t been able to help me move the fridge outside, I would glance at the can and think to myself, I have got to get this done; I just can’t wait any longer. And so, I didn’t wait. I took matters into my own hands and decided to come up with my own plan—a plan that seemed simple enough to work. I moved the fridge to the center of the kitchen and made a “box” out of newspapers that I hung around it; I boxed her in, so to speak. To me, this seemed like a brilliant idea! I would no longer need to wait for Pat; after all he was working hard, and I could get the project done. Wouldn’t he be blessed to not have this to worry about? So, after putting on my old paint clothes and a pair of flip-flops, I began to spray away. I was busy spraying that can when I heard a knock on the door. As I moved my foot off of the newspaper I had placed on the floor, my flip-flop stuck to it and I noticed my foot had a nice white line from my flip-flop. I thought to myself, oh nice, the paint is falling on my feet, as I ran to the door to find our UPS man standing there with a package I needed to sign for. I hadn’t realized how messy my hands had become until I saw a very puzzled look on Mr. UPS’ face. I snickered a bit and told him I was busy painting, signed for the package and said my goodbyes. As I turned to walk back into the house, I could not believe my eyes. I stood stunned, staring into a kitchen filled— filled--with a gray paint fog. But not just the kitchen, oh no, our cathedral ceilings had allowed the paint fog to swallow up the living room as well. As I began to realize the gravity of my mistake, I decided a tour of the house was necessary. Walking into the bathroom it didn’t take long for me to realize why the UPS man had looked at me with such an odd expression; I’m sure it was because of the perfect little black rings that circled my nostrils and the grungy gray look pasted across my face. Oh dear Lord, what had I done? I returned to the kitchen to discover that along with my new black-spray-painted-refrigerator, everything else had been painted too. When I moved an object on the counter, I could see the outline from where it rested. I had created a ginormous wreck and I only had a few hours before Patrick would arrive home. I immediately went to work scrubbing everything in the house, from the floors, to the furniture, the cabinets, the walls, the windows, everything. My goal was to have the place sparkling before Pat came home so he would see the painted fridge and nothing more. That plan failed when he walked in the door two hours earlier than expected, announcing, “Honey I’m home!” I screamed. It took a few days of intense cleaning to get the place unstained by the residue of gray mist. Every so often I would come across a little bit of gray, which served to remind me of the value of patience.
This story is a great source of entertainment for my family; we laugh about it often. However, because of it, I’ve learned to recognize just how headstrong I can be. I’ve always been pretty determined when I get my mind set on something, which can be a good thing, a God-thing even… but it also can become a negative. Do you know what God calls a “headstrong” person? Stiff-necked. And stiff-necked people irritate Him. When the Israelites made the molded calf and worshipped it, He told Moses they were stiff-necked and He was ready to consume them (Exodus 32:8-10). When the Lord told Moses to depart from Sinai with the Israelites, He said: “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people” (Exodus 33:3 NKJV). He would send an Angel before them, but He would not be in their midst because they were headstrong, or stiff-necked. Can you imagine God not being in your midst because what you see as determination, He sees as stiff-necked?
In my mind, making a little box around that fridge with newspaper was sufficient enough for me to proceed with my project. Rather than waiting for Pat to help move the refrigerator outside, which would have been the wise thing, I took matters into own hands, decided it had to be done immediately, and came up with my own plan. I was determined to paint, and it was going to happen right then, without ever considering any of the negative possibilities, or asking advice from others. I just pressed ahead to get the job done. Impatience has pulled me into more trouble than I care to admit.
It’s taken years for God to get the places in my mind unstained by the residue of sin because of my headstrong approach to life. Every so often I am made
Aware of my impatient pride when I see a hint of
Behavior that has
Ceased to remember stiff-necked people don’t impress God.