“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” – Acts 26:14
According to Webster to goad means to urge with or as if with a goad, to stab or urge on as if with a pointed stick or to provoke, as by constant criticism. 1 Sam.13:21 speaks of the Israelites sharpening their goads and sometimes they would use these goads to drive their ox’s or as a great weapon against their enemy. (Judges 3:31)
As the Shepherds goaded their flocks as they led them to greener pastures, so also God often goads his own flocks into following His will. Ecc. 12:11, says, “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.” God’s word, often acts as a goad as it pricks our heart, compelling us through our conscience to obey it, to go in the direction our Shepherd is trying to lead us. Very often, like Saul, instead of following His nudging and pricks, we fight and kick against them instead, insisting on going our own way against the prodding’s and pricks of our conscience. In the end, we only inflict needless pain on ourselves when we thrust and kick against God’s sharp words and by pursing the dead end that God’s will would have directed us away from. It is hard for us to kick against the goads.
God still calls out to us from heaven, with the same question He asked Saul, why do we continue to kick against His goads and bring such pain and hardship on ourselves? If we would only learn to trust and follow our Shepherd who so gently leads and watches over all our ways. What a peaceful, restful life we could enjoy. It would only take a whisper, a gentle nudge or tap on the shoulder to guide us verses the bit and bridle and sharp pricks of the goading sticks that we were once forced to be led by.
In my own life, I wish I hadn’t been so slow in following God, so stubborn that God’s prodding on my heart had to make me absolutely miserable beyond misery with no freedom of movement in any other direction but His before I would willingly submit to move forward and follow Him.
I have to confess much of my Christian life was one of constant goading. I was never naturally inclined to walk in the direction God was leading me. I kicked against Him and persecuted Him more often then I like to admit after I gave my life to Him and caused Him to wrestle with my own stubborn and rebellious nature before I would submit to His way.
And for this I have often been ashamed. I wish I could have been like Abraham who immediately followed God when He called Him. Or like the disciples who immediately dropped their nets and left all behind to follow Christ. Instead I was the one telling the Lord, He was going in the wrong direction, doubting His wisdom, love and methods. When He prodded my heart to move, I fearfully froze up, too paralyzed by fear and pride to budge an inch. I was a stubborn mule.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
As a result of seeing how great God’s grace truly is as I have seen it bear with me over time, I have come to know a depth to Him, a depth to His patience, His compassion, His love, wisdom and tenderness that I could never have hoped to have comprehended or imagined otherwise until He showed them to me personally by extending them to such a great expanse to cover my sins. I would never have guessed that God’s grace would reach so far, would travel so far, until I had seen it personally pursue me every time I had wandered from His path. The more my eyes are opened to see and understand the depth of my own misery and sin as the result of my wayward wanderings away from God, which He allowed me to wander to my heart’s desire to an extent, the more my eyes are also opened to see the greater depth of God’s grace, which is still beside me and refuses to abandon me and let me go but always brings me back to dwell in the safety of His will.