A story from the World War II era tells about a serviceman in the South Pacific who was needled by a duck. Night after night, he had trouble sleeping because the duck would constantly quack underneath his window. Finally the man had enough. He taped the duck’s bill together and drove it to the other side of the island, where he abandoned it. Back in his bunk all was quiet, but he still couldn’t sleep. This time his conscience was keeping him awake. He got out of bed, drove back to the other side of the island, and searched until he found his feathered friend. Nobody knows if the serviceman was ever able to sleep, but one thing is clear. An annoying duck is preferable to a guilty conscience!
When Saul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, the Lord made an interesting statement: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14). “Goads” were the prods farmers used to guide oxen in one direction or another. The animal might “kick” against them in protest, but eventually it learned that the only way to comfort was submission.
Some believe Jesus meant that God had been trying to guide Saul, but, like a stubborn ox, he was kicking against the goads.
But Saul never disobeyed his conscience (Acts 23:1). More likely, Jesus was making an observation about Saul’s character. Never one to violate his sense of right and wrong, Saul would obey the Lord once he realized the error of his ways.
Sadly, the world is full of sinners who do not understand they are lost. They might be following their conscience, but until they hear the gospel they will never be saved. On the other hand, there are those who have heard the gospel and believe it, but they choose to “kick against the goads” rather than to obey God. It is a mystery why they believe this to be the better option. Like the man in the South Pacific, they will lose sleep until they listen to their conscience.