When we lived in Jordan, I spent many years working as a private practice pediatrician in addition to my primary ministry of being the director of Hope Clinic. When I first started doing this, I made house calls. One memorable house call was when I went to one of my patients’ homes to give flu shots. The younger two children sat quietly and took their shots with barely a peep. The oldest decided he was not going to get a shot that day. He cried, screamed, ran around the house trying to flee from us, and ended up under his bed. His mom and I figured out a way to hold his leg and give him the shot while he was still under the bed fighting us. Once it was done, he stopped his crying immediately and said, “Hey, that hardly hurt!”.
His behavior reminded me of how we interact with the Lord sometimes. We think we know what’s good for us and we don’t want to give up any control or independence. We may cry over something that we know we need to do but don’t want to do. We may scream and rage, putting our foot down and resisting. Sometimes we flee physically, emotionally, or both. The difference is, the Lord doesn’t usually “hold us down and give us the shot anyway”. He has given us free will and the choice to obey. He does know what is best for us and His plan for us is good and life-giving. It’s up to us whether we choose to believe Him and embrace His best for us.
Do you remember when the Apostle Paul (formerly Saul) first encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus? Jesus told him “‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (Acts 26:14)”. Jesus used this well-known Greek proverb about resistance to describe Paul’s behavior. Everyone back then knew that an ox succeeded only in hurting himself when he kicked against the goad, the spiked stick used for driving him in the right direction. The more he rebelled, the more he suffered. God had a plan for Paul and had been pursuing and prodding him for years to get on board with this plan. Paul finally surrendered to Him during this Damascus road encounter. He later wrote:
I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Philippians 3: 8-10
Obeying God in what He’s calling you to do may not make immediate sense to you, but He promises His plans are to prosper you, not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises that everything He has asked you to do is going to work out for good (Romans 8:28). I encourage you to choose to submit to His authority, and know that “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20)”.