Kicking Against the Goads, by Evan Haynes

I’m an ox. I admit that freely. I may not be as dumb as one, but I’m just as slow as one. God has me plowing his field. He guides me in the row of righteousness for his name sake. He prods me with an ox-goad. I don’t like the way it feels, but it teaches me humility, how to gain strength from weakness, and submission. I focus on the discomfort often. When I do, I kick against that goad and thereby cause myself more pain as the goad sinks deeper in to my rear. It was only meant to poke me but because I fought against it, I unwittingly forced it to pierce me.

Every Christian has a goad. Whether you feel like an ox or not, Jesus describes you as one in Acts 26:14. He was originally describing the apostle Paul, but the illustration also applies to us. We kick against our ox-goads when we act out in anger towards God. We may do so by committing a sinful act, we may do so by questioning His judgment, but however we do it, it causes us more pain in the process. My goad is something that has prodded me all my life and I have kicked at it ever since I learned about it. My goad is my disability.

I was born with Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Ever since I was little, growing up under Presbyterian biblical teaching has grown my deep belief in the sovereignty of God. I have never quite understood why God decided that I would be born with special needs. I have often found myself unable to live with God, hating him for what he has made me. And yet I cannot live without him either. I have seen, through the eyes of faith, that God has a plan to use my disability and abilities for His glory.

God’s gift of Asperger’s to me has made me unable to drive, and that has taken away a lot of potential freedoms, such as independence and the freedom to go where I want when I want to. Other people have graciously compensated for this by driving me places, but mostly it’s to where I need to go, not where I want to go. This makes me want to question God’s wisdom, because it feels like foolishness to me sometimes. I wonder why God would want to hinder me like this. Driving is often dangerous, I know, so He may be protecting me. But a lot of times, I don’t want his protection.

Another providence of God that I have struggled with is He did not give me the skills I need to have my childhood dream job. When I was young, I would pretend that I was a rock star. I was the front man of my own concert. That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s still what I want at times, but that wish has not been granted. God gave me gifts that place me backstage. I am a playwright, not an actor; a lyricist and decent guitar player, not a front man. I would be working a stage or toward a stage production, but I can’t play the starring role. I acted in a lot of plays in high school, but I never got a huge part until one of my last performances, and it took me a long time to be able to act without being nervous. And even in that show I entered before I was supposed to once, embarrassing myself. So, when I started taking writing classes at Belhaven one of my poems expressed this same story, but in more of a complaining tone. I felt that God had robbed me at a chance for greatness at not giving me the talent to do what I wanted to do.

Writing is not a lucrative occupation and I have found it hard to find lucrative work; none of my jobs have put my writing skillset to work. This is how God’s providence has prodded me, only giving me the opportunity to share what I have written in ways that glorify him. I have written about topics other than my faith, but something usually goes wrong when I do. It doesn’t get the response I have wanted or expected. So, I find myself asking God, “Did you or did you not inspire this work I have done? And if you did, why are you not using it to its full potential?”

And yet through that storm we have reached a shore. God has taught me to accept my Asperger’s as a gift, not a curse. I can understand and reach out to others like me, and have ministered to my local and southern special needs community through Joni and Friends and my church’s special needs program. God has given me all this, but I still want more. Christ gives himself away through salvation, revelation, and mediation every day. But I still struggle to trust God with my life and my future.

I keep asking Him to tell me His reasons why he has made these judgement calls, and I get no answer. As Jerry Bridges points out in his wonderful book, Trusting God, God never explains. He doesn’t owe us an explanation for His plans for us. I feel like He does and I have convinced myself that He does, but I have been deceiving myself.  The best thing I can do is stop questioning him and trust that He is prodding me in the right direction. I must die to wanting to know His reasons, to kicking against his goad.