“We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’” ~ Acts 26:14
For the last few weeks I’ve been in constant prayer regarding a situation. What the situation is doesn’t matter; the point is, I’ve been praying without ceasing without so much as a “Wait” coming from the Lord. He’s been unusually quiet. The more I’ve been praying the way I was praying, the more quiet He was, and the more far-away I felt during worship, like there was a growing chasm in the relationship with Him.
I was praying and asking the Lord to answer a prayer a very certain way, giving blueprints if you will to the Creator of the universe. I was asking Him in no uncertain manner to answer a prayer in a specific way… and the more I did so, the more I kept putting Him in a box. Then, yesterday, my pastor preached on idols at church and made the profound statement that a congregation could become an idol to a pastor….without warning to me, the Lord laid this profound thought on my heart: your prayer request has become an idol. You are thinking more about the prayer request and having it answered your way more than you are thinking about Me.
Stop the presses. Hold the mustard. Stop sign.
I had been so caught up in trying to orchestrate something, even though that something had everything in the world to do with Kingdom-Building, that I lost focus on God. I was asking Him to bless my path instead of me asking Him which path I should be on. As I was driving today, running very ordinary errands, this Scripture came to my mind: “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” I knew the verse had to do with the Saul-Paul conversion, but honestly, what in the world are goads?
After the errands, I did a quick search on the Internet and found that goads were sharp sticks used to drive cattle in Biblical times. We call them cattle prods today. When cattle kicked against the goads, they were not hurting the goads, they were hurting themselves. In the Saul-Paul conversion, Jesus came to him and told him that it was hard for him to kick the goads because Saul, in his self-righteous zeal to eliminate Christians, was unknowingly opposing God – and seriously hurting himself in the process.
I stared at the computer screen. In my self-righteous zeal to build His kingdom, I was focusing more on myself and having the correct-to-me answer to my prayers than I was focusing on what He wants. I was seeing my prayer request through my eyes and not His. The only person I was hurting by repeatedly going to Him with a line-item ledger of how my prayers should be answered, was me. The prayers were not getting answered because I was so focused on telling God how to do His job that I forgot my job…to pray, give Him the situation, and leave it at the Throne.
God’s way is always perfect. We may not understand, but He does. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he,” states Deuteronomy 32:4.
Today, as I asked for forgiveness, I felt a calm peace surround me like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer. I knew it was the Lord. Only He can give that peace – the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that transcends all situations.
Terrie Bentley McKee
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