Acts 9:10-18 (NIV)
Has God ever nudged you? Pushed you even beyond your comfort zone? What did you say? Did you answer in the affirmative or did you run and hide? I know God nudges me all the time. He pushes sometimes. If I’m being honest, I probably say the same thing that you say “Seriously, Lord? You want me to do what? I’m so not up for that.” And like a little kid running away from the possibility of getting in trouble I find myself thinking I can hide from God. In plain sight no less.
Facing challenges beyond our comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. Remember when God calls you—you can run but you cannot hide. Remember Jonah? He tried to run. Got eaten by a whale. Not a good outcome.
Being uncomfortable—how does that feel? It’s like that dream when you find yourself in the middle of a crowd and they are all demanding you do something or say something inspiring. Then there’s Paul/Saul. An evil man who sought to crush Christianity. Kinda like what we’re facing today. The acts of evil trying stomp out everything it disagrees with. The persecution of our police. The removal of our history. And it is our history. Just because statutes are torn down doesn’t make the history invalid or canceled out.
Ananias of Damascus is given a role to play that takes him beyond his comfort zone. He must go see Paul/Saul. When he gets there, he must lay his hands on him because Paul/Saul is blind and Ananias’ instruction from God is to go there to heal him. That’s what God tells (not asks) him he must do. Ananias is like, “Wait. What?” He tells God, “Don’t you know this guy? He’s evil. He’s a killer. He kills Christians and you want me to approach him and heal him?”
But—he does it. Would you have? Yikes! I’m thinking I’d be looking to run. Well, he goes to Paul/Saul and prays with him. In verse 17 of our scriptures, we read: Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Paul regains his sight and then goes on to become one of the chief pastors of the church, building them up and proclaiming Jesus is the Messiah. Isn’t it amazing how God works? Even among the evilest of human beings?
Ananias plays a role at the beginning of Paul’s mission. Don’t we need Ananias today? Those who play a small part in greatness. Paul then becomes the best advocate of God. Paul is totally dependent on Christ and His mercy. I’ve learned over the years that I must be like Paul after his eyes were open. I must be totally dependent on God. This is a lesson we should all learn. We don’t tell God our plans, He tells us His plans for us. The definition of faith is knowing this and living by it.
It’s not about how strong you are. It’s about how strong God is. It’s not about you—ever.
Now that Paul’s eyes are open, he no longer is the persecutor of the church but the defender of the church. The two experiences define Paul as a positive force and not a negative force. How God’s Holy Spirit turns Paul from negative to positive.
Paul goes from being blind to a new vision. He sees that God’s love knows no limit. Before the road to Damascus Paul was an evil man. After his eyes are opened he sees that God’s love can take us to great heights. If we will remove the scales from our eyes, we just might see the goodness that God can do.
If the rage and the hate we see today could go toward building up instead of tearing down imagine what could happen.
Would Paul have ever been Paul without an Ananias? How comfortable do you feel being an Ananias? Are you up for the challenge or will you run like a frightened little kid?
Going into the unknown and out of your comfort zone.
It ain’t for the weak of heart.
And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!