Kicking and Struggling Into the Kingdom
“And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”—Acts 26:14
“Kicking against the goads” refers to oxen tilling the soil. The goad is a stick with a pointed spike. If the ox didn’t cooperate, the goad prods it. If the ox kicked, the goad is driven deeper into its flesh. The more rebellion, the more suffering.
Paul (originally named Saul) fought Jesus, persecuting and threatening His believers. Jesus finally confronted him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) saying, “Why are you making this so hard? Quit kicking against the goads so I can bless you and we can work together!”
God set into motion certain principles in the universe. We reap what we sow. We pay for stupid choices. We fight Him and hurt ourselves.
Then there is grace.
C.S. Lewis described a classic, modern day conversion in which he too found himself “kicking against the goads:”
“That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me...I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms... who can but duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men.”1
Whether it is the moment of conversion or something significant God wants to do in your life, He wants us to fall into His grace and blessings, trusting His love for us.
When we “give in” and follow Him, we are sustained and blessed. We are given grace through good and hard times, and the opportunity to use our gifts and talents in ways we could never imagine.
“Jesus tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Bob, why are you resisting me?' I said, 'I'm not resisting you!' He said, 'You gonna follow me?' I said, 'I've never thought about that before!' He said, 'When you're not following me, you're resisting me.’” —Bob Dylan
1. Lewis, Surprised by Joy(Harcourt, 1966), p. 228