There’s Nothing Wrong, But Something Ain’t Right
This catchy song title may aptly describe the first inklings of some of our most profound personal transformations. A personal friend recently requested my thoughts on Jesus’ question to Saul after he had encountered him on the road to Damascus. “Is it hard for you to kick against the goads?” (Acts 26:14). The picture is of an animal being prodded with a stick and kicking to resist it. I believe it illustrates a profound Kingdom dynamic most profitable to ponder.
If we had been allowed to look into Saul’s deepest persona at this point we might have discovered the “goads” of the Spirit began with his witness of Stephen forgiving him as he died. Nothing was “wrong,” yet something disquieted his spirit. If asked he might have described himself with a single phrase: I AM RIGHT! Some of the scariest people I have ever known were convinced they were unequivocally right – usually about everything. Paul saw himself as “right” about Jesus and the sacred traditions.
We do not know exactly how Saul was being goaded, but we know he kicked against them with such intensity that it was necessary for Jesus to arrest him on the road to Damascus. The effective and necessary transformation that followed was nothing less than a biblical miracle – Saul was becoming Paul.
God as a Father knows all that holds us captive. He is faithful to move into our hidden spheres and “goad” that which we may not even know is there. Presuppositions, like the foundation of a building, are mostly invisible and usually taken for granted; yet the entire structure of a building rests upon them. The goading, necessary to identify our erroneous presuppositions can be a threatening and disquieting experience.
We can be imprisoned by our presuppositions, understood as what we actually believe that is not true! If we knew or even became suspicious of what it was that was not true, we would yield and surrender without much of a struggle. Self-deception is the most complex and strangely the most fiercely defended. For some emotional or irrational reason, we are determined to preserve and defend.
What do the “goads” of the Spirit feel like? Father’s goads may initially be the feeling that “There’s nothing wrong, but somethin’ ain’t right.” For some undefinable reason things don’t fit and flow as neatly as they once did. Much of the spontaneity and joy of our experience is beginning to diminish.
Circumstantially, Father-God identifies, reveals, and proceeds to divest us of our own “golden idols.” Sets of circumstances that are beyond our knowledge, expectation, or control, press us, repeating themselves until we are able to “SEE” what He is determined to show us.
Perhaps one most telling symptoms of be goaded is a growing sense of the need to be right. When we begin to find ourselves confidently secure that my/our beliefs, interpretations of Scripture, doctrines, standards of conduct, political dogmas, and views of reality are the most accurate and wisest, we are beginning to stray from the biblical reality that Truth is a Person!
I don’t know or I’m not sure, can be one of the most powerful spiritual confessions we can embrace. It leaves God the freedom to grow us. We are following the living Mind of Christ, which is organic, multi-faceted, and evolutionary. I have come to deeply appreciate that God, as a Father, is not an “exclusivist” but is proven to welcome, include, and embrace as many as is possible with His arms of Agape. Let’s listen, like we never heard it before. Read it out loud so we can hear ourselves speak: God Loves this crazy and confused entity called humanity!
You can tell by my emotions, that I am speaking from experience. In my years with the Lord I have felt many goads, when I responded obediently it produced life and joy. Please consider carefully before the Master’s presence if there are “goads” that you may be kicking against. They are the prods of Father’s agape designed to produce life and purpose. May the Lord make all of us sensitive to His personal care.