February 19, 2009

Kicking Against the Oxgoads

The story of Paul on his way to Damascus has always struck me. How often are people found in this world making instantaneous 180's? And how many people get leveled and humbled by God so heavily in one moment and live to tell about it? You can probably count them on one hand!

In Acts 26 Paul is taken before King Agrippa, his wife, the royal court, and an auditorium filled with accusers and finger-pointers. He's given the opportunity to tell his story - or as Agrippa tells Paul, "You may speak in your defense." I love that. In the midst of recounting the events of his Damascus Road Confrontation and Conversion, Paul gives us another piece of the divine direct - he shares one more missing piece of the story. When the light from heaven blinded him and he fell face down, Jesus begins the confrontation by asking, "Saul...why are you persecuting me?" And then Jesus hits Paul with this: "It is hard for you to fight against my will." Think through that for a moment.

The Greek - or literal translation of this is "It is hard for you to kick against the oxgoads." Jesus used this idea several times, especially when He talked about our burdens and the "yoke" that He places upon us being "easy" and "light". Jesus kicks Paul to the dirt but then lovingly picks him up and says, "Why are trying to fight me? Why are you resisting me? Why don't you get that I'm not here to imprison you or enslave you...but to set you free? It is HARD for you to fight against my will." I've read this 3 times over the last few days and finally realized that it's the same for me: it is hard for me to fight against His will.

As Christ-followers, I think we're often tempted to think that it's hard to actually DO God's will - that it's hard to know what we're to do and how we're to do it. God, where do you want me to go? Isn't that asking a little much? Are you sure you've got the right person, Lord? We wrestle, we kick, we rationalize - in reality, we fight! And all the while He is trying to pick us up and say, "Don't you realize that my will may not be easy...but fighting my will is even harder!" If the Lord "knows the plans He has for us" and He "won't give us more than we can handle" and He will do as He says and "supply all our needs according to HIS riches"...what is it that we're fighting? Why are we resisting?

Your answer to this question will be different than mine. I can't answer it for you. Just know that when Christ begins to reveal His heart and His plan and His will for you - when He begins to place His yoke around your neck - that fighting it only makes the burden heavier, the pain greater, and the blessings fewer. And if we're really honest with ourselves, we want the burden to be lighter, the pain to be eased, and the blessings to be countless. 

Jesus says to us today what He said to Paul in the blinding light on that dusty road: "It is hard for you to fight against my will." So let's quit fighting!

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