God is far bigger, wiser and stronger than we are. God's ways are not our ways, and in fact, they are beyond our ability to comprehend many times. If we allow God to be who He is and do what He does instead of trying either figure everything out or play god ourselves; we will find ourselves "overtaken in a blessing".
When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Jesus had this to say to him in Acts 26:14 in the New English Version:
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you, this kicking against the goad."
A goad was used to keep the ox on the path. When the ox felt like being stubborn, he would kick against the goad attempting to knock it out of the person's hand. If he succeeded, the master would have no way to control the ox, which would quickly become very dangerous for all involved.
The goad was not a bad thing, but rather a necessary one. When we "kick against the goad", we find ourselves in positions which are not conducive to being blessed or being a blessing. If the Master must spend most of His time and energy keeping us in line, that is time taken away from other more productive matters.
For most of us, we end up "kicking against the goad" when we stubbornly try to perform God's job, doubt that He knows what is best or lose patience in His timing. I know all about kicking against goads, for it seems I have spent much of my life becoming a professional "goad kicker". If only it paid as handsomely as a profession "field goal kicker".
The only thing more stubborn than a sheep is an ox. To be "bullheaded" is to behave like an ox. If we can somehow get it through our thick skulls that God is in control, that He knows what is best and that He will never leave us nor forsake us; then maybe we would become more like lambs instead of the stubborn ox such as Saul was.
Of course there is a good stubbornness when used in conjunction with determination and resolve. The phrase "stubborn determination" is not to be likened to "kicking against the goad". We must stubbornly resolve to not quit or fold under pressure. We must be stubbornly committed to standing on the integrity of God's Word. This kind of stubbornness is to be commended not avoided.
But, when it comes to the stiff-necked and bullheaded stubbornness associated with the refusal to do things God's way or to yield to His will; this must be confronted and dealt with or it will cause us much consternation in our walk with God. Just as child stubbornly plops down and folds his arms across his chest while saying in no uncertain terms; "I don't want to"; so it is with many believers in their attitude toward obeying God's Word.
When we huff and puff and adamantly refuse to do as told by our Master, we are no better than the child fuming or the ox kicking. Do we really want that to be how the Master thinks of us? Do we really want Him to shine a light on us and announce "B2Y, B2Y, it is hard for you, kicking against the goad"? Is it really our heart's desire to be as a stubborn child refusing to budge because "we don't want to" do His will? I don't think we really want any of these thing, do we?
Proverbs states that stubbornness is bound in the heart of a child. This is why the rod of correction was to be used. The rod of correction is somewhat equal to the goad. They both were intended to keep the person or ox on the straight and narrow. If Proverbs advocates the use of the rod of correction, and Jesus spoke to Saul about "kicking against the goad"; you know these things can and will be used by our loving Father who loves us enough to chasten us.
A loving parent does not let the child do whatever he wants whenever he wants to. A loving parent establishes boundaries and guidelines for blessings. This is how God works with us to keep us from getting into trouble by straying out of bounds. If we start to veer off course He will lovingly use the goad to get us back on track. If we kick against that goad, He is not afraid to use the rod of correction.
I don't know about you, but my prayer to my Master is that He do whatever it takes to get it through by stubborn skull that HE RUNS THE SHOW. I don't know about you, but my prayer is that my stubborn heart not resist the chastening of my loving Heavenly Father who is only looking out for me and wants the best for me.
I pray that I can be mature enough to accept reproof and correction as a means of growth and not as punishment. I pray that I can swallow my pride and gladly receive what it takes to break into pieces my bullheadedness and stiff-necked resistance to obeying His commands.
A verse we should all keep plastered upon the walls of our hearts is not even in the Bible. It is a verse I invented long ago to describe the old stubborn side of me which seeks to mimic Frank Sinatra and "do it my way". What is this verse? Very simply it is:
"All we as oxen have stubbornly gone astray..."
Of course this simply using a different animal than the sheep Romans 8 speaks of. I just get a much more vivid mind picture of an ox than a sheep. Besides, sheep are more stupid than stubborn and that is a topic for another post. Let us all pray the Lord's goad is guiding us and we stay on the straight and narrow path.