“in this connection i journeyed to damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. at midday, o king, i saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. and when we had all fallen to the ground, i heard a voice saying to me in the hebrew language, ‘saul, saul, why are you persecuting me? it is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ and i said, ‘who are you, Lord?’ and the Lord said, ‘ am Jesus whom you are persecuting. [acts 26:12-15]


it is hard for you to kick against the goads.


if this phrase is unfamiliar to you, it means it’s fruitless to struggle against the inevitable. goads were sticks used by cattle herders to guide the herd, or a farmer to guide the oxen, and if an ox kicked in opposition to this guidance, the goad would be used as a means of punishment to persuade the ox to get back in line.


what paul (or saul) was kicking against was the gospel of Jesus Christ. it was the sovereign will of God to spread this good news like wildfire across jerusalem and to the ends of the earth. as we know, the sovereign will of God is the inevitable path, and to kick against that goad is certainly fruitless.


but Jesus, having all things put in subjection under his feet, stopped paul in his tracks, (literally, he fell to the ground!) and in a moment, turned around the entire trajectory of his life. he was in opposition to Christ, and now he was a zealous advocate. he was kicking against the goads, and now he was wielding the goads for the kingdom of his Savior!


paul was persecuting Jesus by persecuting the body of Christ, the believers in every nearby area. maybe this isn’t you. maybe you’re not persecuting others who follow the Way. but maybe you are resisting the inevitable call of Christ. maybe you’ve been willing up to this point to submit in every way but one, and you kick against that goad, fearing the loss of the comfort of a particular sin that you are clinging to. maybe you harbor a conviction of the Spirit but to follow him in that way would make you look too different, and you fear irrelevancy. perhaps you have a specific call to ministry, and you are kicking against that goad, fearing the commitment of time, or lack of financial stability.


hear the voice of Jesus today. it is hard for you to kick against the goads. look at his face, shining brighter than the sun. this is not a God to resist. he is the Almighty. he is Lord over all the earth. and he loves you. he longs to lavish his grace upon you. come into his presence today and stop resisting the goads. to walk in obedience is to be satisfied in his everlasting covenant love for you.


by this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. as the Father has loved me, so have i loved you. abide in my love. if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as i have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. these things i have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. [john 15:8-11]


~arwen eastman