Like most older post-surgery patients, the kind-hearted farmer was warned that he had to do his breathing exercises and tests to avoid pneumonia. He took the nurse's advice nicely, thanked her for it--and then proceeded to ignore it.
After all, he had been farming all his life and done it HIS way. No one told him what to do and even if they tried, HE was always the final authority. That was the state of mind behind his warm, friendly exterior. He came through the surgery all right, did't he? So why was some silly huffing and puffing needed now?
But even as his lungs began to fill up with fluid, he remained unconcerned. His family begged him to reconsider. But he refused, and as the nurse curtly said, "it led to his demise."
We tend to associate stubbornness with all the outward expressions which usually accompany it: an angry, defiant attitude; boastful or profane speaking; gang tattoos, etc. But the fact is, what the Bible calls rebellion, or being "stiff necked," is a state of the HEART which can wear a thousand disguises, even friendly and kind ones.
Before he died, Moses warned the Israelites in Deuteronomy 31:27--"I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!" He had them pegged. Centuries later, their idolatry and neglect of God's other commands led to their conquest by foreign powers, as they were dragged into Babylonian slavery.
Repentance is always a better choice. As Peter reminds us, God does't want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). No matter how we appear to others on the outside, all of us must learn to bow before God's greater authority, recognize the truth of His Word, and humble ourselves.