And Saul said, Who are You, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is dangerous and it will turn out badly for you to keep kicking against the goad [to offer vain and perilous resistance]. (Acts 9:5 – Amplified)
I was resisting God and did not know it. I pioneered a church in a small town in South Carolina in 1988. It was a difficult and arduous task for me at thirty years of age. I had left a staff position in a church of almost 5000 in Tulsa to pastor in a town with a population of 6000! Susan was pregnant with our third child. I was challenged in every way.
To survive, I dug my heels in the sand and set my jaw. I thought to myself, I’ll just do what the scripture in Isaiah says and set my face like a flint! I faced opposition in every way possible. As time went by, the church grew a bit, but I was never quite content with the whole thing inside. I believed God had led me there, but every day was a battle.
I picked up a Christian magazine and read of a missionary in a remote part of South America who was living in a mosquito infested jungle with no electricity or running water. Though life was difficult, he was having the time of his life. He had found his element. I wondered how he could be so happy while so deprived and living in substandard conditions. Here I was in small town America and had a normal life outwardly, yet I was so discontent. The contrast between this missionary and me troubled me.
After I read the Christian magazine, the verse from Acts started invading my thoughts on a regular basis. I asked the Lord, Are you telling me that I’m kicking against the goads? Am I resisting you? He answered me with a firm YES! I was shocked.
Here’s what I learned. When you are doing what God told you to do, there is peace and rest. Sometimes, He will lead you into a hard place, and then, when you conquer the test, He will change the assignment and move you on. I had so concentrated on resisting the hardness of living that I missed the dealing of God. He places in us desire for what He wants us to do (Psalm 37:4).
Listen to the desires that come from deep inside you. It may be the Lord pricking you to change. When you get uncomfortable with where you are and what you’re doing, it’s time to examine yourself. Father may be speaking. Don’t kick against the goad!