(What you are about to read is a selection from a retreat I spoke at recently. It is based on the discussion of our calling and comes from Acts 9.)
“God’s calling can be powerful &/or subtle, but when we do not understand we must believe that there is a greater plan than what we see.”
There is a strange phenomenon that takes place when I walk out of church on a bright, sunny Sunday after church. The sun somehow becomes a thousand times brighter. Ok, not really, but because I have been inside the church for quite some time, when I walk out, my eyes haven’t adjusted and the normal brightness of the sun seems so much brighter.
Saul (later to be known as the apostle Paul) was a very religious man. By some people’s standards, Saul was a very good person that had a longing desire to do God’s will. We often paint him as a terrible man that killed Christians (and killing people isn’t a good thing, in case you were wondering), persecuted the church, and somehow hated God.
Let me offer a bit of a different perspective.
Saul was raised a Jew (as was Christ) and wasn’t just good enough to be a teacher of the Law (as Christ was), but was top notch at it (as Christ was). The place where he got mixed up is that, like many religious people of that time, he didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God. He believed in God, trusted God’s word, and lived a life that reflected that…except he didn’t believe in Jesus being the Christ (coming King, God in the flesh, the Messiah).
Well, everyone around him, his teachers, friends, leaders, and everyone around him told him that Jesus wasn’t the Christ. So if he went to anyone to ask questions about Jesus, he was pointed in the direction that Jesus was not this coming Messiah.
So, was he that bad? Or was it more misguided?
I mean how easy is it to give everything up that you have been taught for your entire life?
Well, once again, when you experience God…things change.
Did Saul have a heart for God?
I mean he was a “bad guy” in the Bible, right?
In short, yes, Saul was a bad guy. He followed closely the Law which has the commandment of “Thou shall not kill (murder).” However, he was a subordinate (or kind of like an employee) and not the main leader (employer), so he was being led in the wrong direction.
The point is, he was misguided and in a tough position to change what he believed. He was told by all that he trusted that he was doing the right thing, encouraged to continue, and praised for the work he did.
There were loopholes made in God’s Word to allow for removing those who would oppose, so Saul was ok.
Whammo, undeniable proof that he is wrong and is pointed into a new, correct direction. Everything is changed.
The Light was so bright that it revealed the spiritual blindness, opened Saul’s spiritual eyes and yet left him physically blind.
Now Ananias was on the other side of the coin, he did believe in Jesus. God called Ananias in a vision (kind of like a dream) and take notice how Ananias answered. Then God told Ananias to go find Saul and pray for him (Saul) to receive his sight.
Saul…the murderer…killer of Christians…of which Ananias was.
God basically said, “I got this, just go.”
What did Ananias do? He went.
Even though hesitant, Ananias realized that God was powerful enough to protect him especially since God called Him to go. Even if God chose for Ananias to die at Saul’s hand, it was God’s will. God had a plan, and Ananias wasn’t going to do anything but what God told Him to do.
I wonder in what ways we dim the light of Christ because we are afraid or do not trust, or are even misguided?
Because Ananias went, he not only survived and Saul didn’t kill him, but he was a huge part in the conversion of Saul into the apostle Paul. Paul, who was used to write two thirds of the New Testament, who was a major factor in building churches throughout the known world, who was a huge push in the spreading of the gospel, who was looked to as the human authority on all things of God…that Paul.
God’s calling changes a killer into THAT guy.
God’s calling allows people like Ananias to be a part of a much bigger plan.
God’s calling to us will accomplish His great plan and His will.
The great question is…is that what we want?
Do we want to be a part of His great plan?
God may not knock us off of a horse, He may not show us in a vision (although He might), but He will speak to us. Are we ready, listening, and prepared to go where and when He leads us?