Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cut Off From the Source of All Power

I hate Time Warner Cable (TWC). They are the only game in town here, though Google Fiber is laying cables in our neighborhood. They are coming soon! But I digress. TWC was busy in our yard all day before yesterday, and so I was without internet all day. Then when they were done, and left, the internet still didn't work! In dismay, I called TWC who would not send a technician out till yesterday evening.

The tech guy arrived, and was a God-send. He discovered that TWC workers themselves had cut my cable while doing whatever it is they were doing out there all day. I found that disturbing. You would think that the folks responsible for laying the cable would know if they had cut their own cable thus obliterating the very service they were supposed to be upgrading.

It seemed there must be a message here from God. It's a favorite exercise of mine, seeking the commonplace symbols of the spiritual world.

I went to radiation therapy, as usual in the afternoon. This is my routine every single day for the next five weeks. There are a lot of nurses, technicians, receptionists, and patients that know me now. Every one of them asked if I got my hair cut.

I did. It was hard not to notice, even if you aren't obsessed with hair like I am. I told my hairdresser NOT to cut it as short as last time as it was shocking, and too short. She understood...she said. However, I think she cut it even shorter this time. I was not very happy, but she is a great hairdresser...and in two weeks (or so) it will be the length I want. At least it is cool in the blistering hot weather we are having.

"It is too short," I told my radiation buddies, in case they couldn't tell.

Cut cables, cut hair....I was beginning to see a theme for the day. In both cases something was cut that was intended to make something better but instead caused some dismay. To try to help me discern if there was an important message I was missing, I did a Bible word search: 'cutting hair.' There are a lot of verses about cutting hair, but this passage spoke to me:

27 “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips. 29 “‘Cut off your hair and cast it away; raise a lamentation on the bare heights, for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.’ 
Jeremiah 7: 27-29

God's people had ignored the prophet Jeremiah's call to repentance. Truth was cut from their lips. Here is God's laundry list of their infractions:
Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?  

So why does God tell them to cut off their hair in His anger and dismay over their disobedience? God is speaking to them as though they were His specially sanctified servants, the Nazirites. In those times, the Nazirite vow of strict obedience to God included the edict that no razor should ever touch their head. As a result, their hair was long and symbolically, their strength was in their hair - reflective of their obedience to God. (Think Samson- whose strength was literally in his hair.)  

In the passage in Jeremiah, God's people are spoken of as the Nazirite who has disobeyed God's commands, and thus his vow is null and void. They may as well now cut off their hair to expose the hypocrisy of their actions. They have paraded as God's obedient people, but their actions clearly show they are not.

I don't think the message of my too short haircut was God specifically branding me as a hypocrite, but this passage and these thoughts do indeed give me pause. I certainly claim to have a strong connection to God. TWC claims to have a strong internet connection. Yet they cut their own source of their strength and were useless as internet providers! 

This is the lament in Jeremiah as well. God's people cut off the very source of their strength when they disobeyed God. They may as well cut off their hair, and divorce themselves entirely of any claim to Him or to His deliverance.

Here's the bottom line. If we want the power and strength of the Lord, His deliverance through the trials of life, we cannot cut ourselves off from the source (God) through our foolish and willful behavior. We must follow Him in word and in deed or our claims that we love Him and believe Him are self-deluding lies.

In contrast, as long as we are discussing hair, the Bible also tells us that every hair on our head is numbered. God cares for us to the tiniest detail, to the very hairs on our head. He loves us beyond comprehension, despite knowing what stumbling, fumbling, wayward hypocrites we are. That's why He sent Jesus. We cannot save ourselves, but God desires that we MUST be saved.

Once the technician fixed the cut cable, our internet was restored. 
"You're a genius!" I said, tugging at my short hair.
He smiled, but shrugged humbly and told me he had brought my garbage can in from the curb. He hoped I didn't mind. Now this was someone whose actions matched his promise to serve.

Numbers 6:5 

“All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair, for the children of your delight; make yourselves as bald as the eagle, for they shall go from you into exile.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.

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