Yesterday, our sacred space conversation turned to discussions of courage, calling, caring and witness. We relied on Acts 9 to be our jumping board into some spiritually deep waters.
10 “Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord!” he replied.
11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
15 But the Lord said, “Go! For Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road–has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Acts 9:10-18
For those of you who don’t know Saul, let me explain “A”s fears. Saul was a bad guy. Maybe even a super villain, at least to the early believers of The Way. He was ying to Jesus’ yang. The black that opposes white. The crystals that form on a good brand of ice cream that has been put away without the lid securely fastened down. He was a spoiler working against the fledgling Christians, and not a harmless one either.
Saul was on a witch hunt when he headed into Damascus, and had it not been for a blinding realization of his condition (literally speaking, he was made blind for three days), he would have gone on persecuting the men and women of that great metro until the proverbial cows came home.
The guy was deadly in a multitude of ways!
Its amazing how much Christ cared for Saul, by sending Ananias. Read these words said to him before his blinding:
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Acts 26:14
What the wise guys in the biblical world take that to mean is: 1. Why are you hurting me, by hurting my people, Saul? 2. Why are you resisting My plan, when you say with every breath that you love Me and want to do My will?
Good questions, right?
Our God has a soft spot for everyone who wants to get closer to Him, and Saul wanted with every fiber of his being to be right in God’s sight, and really, really close to Him. Ananias also wanted to get closer to God.
Solution: put these two together!
It was hard for Ananias to listen to God and go to Saul, especially when he knew by the vision he’d had that Saul was out of commission in his present state. Left blind, Saul could do no further harm in the Christian camp, but that wasn’t God’s plan. God was about to transform Saul, and while he could have done it without Ananias’ help, it would not have had nearly the same effect.
Ananias went to an enemy and gave him love.
In so doing, Saul was humbled, maybe a bit humiliated, and at the end, eternally grateful to one that was a better man than he. Saul’s new life began with the hands of an old enemy on his shoulders and with the words of that enemy ringing blessings in his ears. He might not have been able to see Ananias as that friend to Christ prayed, but he could sure feel the difference those prayers made and he could hear perfectly the blessing God told this faithful man to pray over him.
Which of your enemies needs your prayer of blessing in his or her life today? What has God called you to do that you could never do without His power working through you?