Dear friends, greetings in the blessed Name of our Lord Jesus. I trust that the Lord had been blessing you and watching over you. All of us have faced and continue to encounter problems that threaten to derail our agenda. These obstacles can vary from something as simple as a broken sink to major presentation that interferes with your daughter’s wedding schedule. What should we do when we hit such road blocks? Are these road blocks meant to stop us from proceeding further or are these merely obstacles (challenges) that need to be overcome by God’s grace?
Please turn with me to Acts 26:14. This verse reads as follows: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? It’s hard for you to kick against the goads.” Most of you probably know that goads or cattle prods are sticks with sharp ends used to guide live stock, typically oxen or bulls. This is in stark contrast to a shepherd’s crook or staff which is merely curved at the top as a handle to hold and is used for gently guiding the sheep. The religious zealot Saul was on his way to destroy the followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:1-2), when he encountered the Lord Jesus in a blinding blaze of glory. The Apostle recalled this several times during his ministry very penitently (1 Timothy 1:13). There are times when we may feel so obsessed with what we’re doing knowing for sure that it’s God’s will that we’re prepared to knock down the road blocks while the sign clearly says “Diversion Ahead (paraphrased : danger)”. Mind you, we may still be doing God’s will. It’s just that we may be doing it the wrong way, i.e., in our natural abilities as opposed to relying on the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:19, Hebrews 2:4). It’s like the contrast between the ministry of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:11). In this instance Saul’s conscience was so blunted by Satan that he lost touch with his own humanity and was willing to murder innocent people just because they were of a different faith and had to be struck down with temporary blindness.
Let’s now look at an entirely different scenario in which the born-again Apostle Paul was again warned, this time by a fellow prophet named Agabus. In Acts 21:10-11 we read the narrative of how the Prophet Agabus warns the Apostle as to how he would be persecuted by the Jews in Jerusalem. There are several commentaries out there many of which suggest that Paul made a mistake by not heeding the warning of the Holy Spirit and brought the ensuing trouble upon himself. They also suggest that had Paul not been imprisoned in Jerusalem, shipped off to Rome and subsequently be-headed, he would have continued his earthly ministry for many more years. I’d just like to point out the Apostle’s own words in Acts 21:13 where he expressed his willingness to not just be bound but also die for the Lord Jesus. Was Paul reckless, stupid or just plain ignorant? I’ll let you be the judge. But let me share my opinion. When you’re in love (with someone or something that you’re doing) no sacrifice seems small. In this case, Paul was in love with His Lord Jesus Christ. So the ensuing suffering was insignificant to the Apostle Paul as he was stubbornly set on a collision course with Satan (Romans 16:20). Now this is a classic example of stubbornness and of kicking the door open, albeit in a good and godly way and is the exact opposite of trying to knock down barriers (as described in the above paragraph) while doing out-right evil.
Let me close with another example from the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Luke 12:49-53 the Lord Jesus Christ was expressing His frustration about the pace and progress of His ministry. If you give me some rope friends I’d like to explain my point of view. When we think of the Lord Jesus we often visualize a gentle Messiah dressed in white with young lamb in his arms and shepherding His flock. He is all that but much more. What if I were to tell you that the Lord Jesus was a combative, dynamic and impatient man (John 2:15, Luke 9:51) whose sole purpose was to be a sacrificial lamb for atonement of our sins (Luke 12:50)? This is in such contrast to the meek and humble lamb image of the Lord Jesus Christ portrayed by so many of our churches. Although true (Philippians 2:1-11) this isn’t a complete description of our Lord’s personality. The Lord had rage and anger against sin (Mark 3:5), passion and ambition (Luke 13:32), drive and determination (Matthew 16:18) and hatred and intolerance of sin (Revelation 2:6). My more gentle and docile brothers and sisters may find this unthinkable. What both the pacifists and the activists need to understand is that Lord was emotional and passionate when He dealt with sin and Satan, and was docile and humble before our Heavenly Father. So the life of our Lord Jesus is another classic example of treating road blocks as obstacles to be overcome and not as hindrances.
It’s never easy to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit friends. I know I wrestle before the Lord with plans, ideas, concepts (Colossians 4:12) some of which may seem outright selfish (like investing on Wall Street) but could hold long term benefits for many. But with time and patience in the Lord’s Presence we’ll soon realize that all good plans in our hearts will bear fruit in God’s good time (Proverbs 19:21, Psalm 20:4) and then the road blocks become opportunities and not obstacles. The Holy Spirit may guide us along a diversion or a different path, but as long as we’re in God’s will, we’ll reach His and our goals. Amen.
Dear friends, I’m quite certain that all of you are sanctified, Holy Ghost baptized saints. Should there be any amongst you that don’t know the Lord yet, I pray that the Lord of the Universe will set you free from sin and disobedience into His glorious light and freedom. Amen.