Once upon a time, there was a heifer named Muffet. She lived on a little dairy farm in the Ozarks. So did my wife – who wasn’t my wife then. She was the farmer’s young daughter then, and she told me that Muffet had a harder life than some of the other heifers, but it was her own fault. See, Muffet was a stubborn heifer. Would she stay inside the fence that was there for her protection? Oh no! She found ways to crawl through that fence. Which meant Muffet got a yoke attached to her head – basically a sturdy Y-shaped branch that made it impossible for her to get her head outside that fence. It was for her own protection. Now, it was a nuisance, but it was made necessary by Muffet’s stubbornness. Other times, they would try to get Muffet to move, and without serious coercion, she would just plant her feet. Then there was the time she refused to stand still to be milked, and she started to charge toward the door. My wife’s Mom – whose job it was to keep the cows inside that little shed – quickly slammed the shovel across the door to keep her in. Well, Muffet ran into the shovel and lost part of the cap on one of her horns. This is a difficult little girl here. They tell me from that day on, though, she went right in and stood there quietly for milking.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Stubborn Heifers.”
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hosea 4:16. It’s God’s description of some of His ancient children, and some of His current children. “The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How can the Lord pasture them like lambs in a meadow?”
In every generation, God has problems with His stubborn heifers. And like old Muffet, stubbornness brings a lot of unnecessary hardships. I wonder if, when your Heavenly Father looks at you, He sometimes says, “Oh, my stubborn one.” Isaiah says, “‘Woe to the obstinate children,’ says the Lord, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not Mine'” (that’s Isaiah 30:1). These are God’s children whose real theme song is not “Have Thine Own Way, Lord,” but “My Way.”
A farmer has to put cumbersome yokes and sometimes painful constraints on a stubborn one. And that may explain why life has been so difficult for you, and why there’s been so much grief. It’s unnecessary grief – grief because you just won’t do it God’s way. You insist on your way – your outcome – your timetable. In certain areas of your life or maybe your personality, you just have your mind made up how it’s going to be and you’re determined that not even God is going to make you change or move.
It doesn’t matter how much you dress up your stubbornness in spiritual terms like “conviction” or “determination” or “God’s leading,” it’s still your way versus God’s way isn’t it. And you can’t possibly win on that one. It’s costing you the fullness of God’s perfect plan for your life because you won’t surrender your plan.
But aren’t you tired of the pain, the yoke, the frustration and the hits? God has brought difficulties into your life not to hurt you, but to get you to go where you otherwise would never go – to get you to stop what you’d otherwise never stop – to change what you would never change. Why? So your will will finally line up with God’s will for you. So you can be all you were born to be.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus faced the awful prospect of carrying the weight of the world’s sin, He prayed eight of the most powerful words in the world, “Yet not my will, but Yours be done.” God may have been waiting a long time to hear those words from you. Maybe today’s the day.
You’ve carried enough burdens; you’ve gotten enough scars, you’ve run into enough walls. It’s time to surrender that stubborn heart and let God do it His way. You were created for a Shepherd, and God can’t shepherd a stubborn heifer.