Part Two in the continuing Friday Devotional Series on Saul of Tarsus/The Apostle Paul
All of us, we wish that we were Isaiah, hearing the voice of God calling us and eagerly answering Him, unwavering in our commitment to whatever He tells us and wherever He leads us. (Isaiah 6:8) More often than not though we are Ananias, the call of our Lord coming, His words there in front of us, knowing the promises He has made never to fail us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5) and, yet, it’s not hope or courage that fills us, but rather doubt and fear.
As we discussed last week, there was no doubt that Saul of Tarsus, that great persecutor of the early Church, was a bad man. Cruel and filled with hate, he rallied people to murder and then watched as mad mob was let loose on the innocent. He robbed men and women of their liberty and their freedom, jailing them, not for crimes they committed, but because of the faith that they had. Wickedness followed him in the guise of zealotry as he claimed the purest motives for the most impure of acts. Ananias had every reason to fear this man if he valued his life.
Yet, here was the voice of God telling him to go to Saul. How could he not question that? (Acts 9:10-14) Stephen, in all of his eloquence and righteousness, was already dead, cut down by the mad mob (Acts 7:54-60) and all that could be said of Saul was that he approved of the murder. (Acts 8:1) Like Jonah once tried, Ananias might have wanted to run, to get as far from Damascus and Saul as possible. It might have been to use the voice of God not as a calling but as a warning to flee as far from Saul as he could possibly get. Whatever his thoughts though, whatever his worries or fears, he would follow the voice of God wherever it might lead, putting his trust and his faith in his Heavenly Father even when it seemed to contradicted any sort of reason or understanding he might have.
There are moments in all of our lives when it seems like God gives us impossible tasks, when His voice comes calling and it just seems like what He’s asking of us can’t possibly be right. How could it be? It’s so hard, it fills us with fear and doubt, it challenges us in ways we never thought possible.
In these moments what we need to remember is that though God, in His love and hope for us, never gives us more than we can face, this world will, and we need to lean heavier on our Heavenly Father to carry us through these moments, trusting in Him to lead us and to guide us in the strength of His unending faith and grace. He is the One who gave His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus, to die for our sins. He is the One who rose him from the grave to give us our victory over sin, death and the devil. He never leads us to any place where He does not already know the outcome, and, even when the challenges and the adversity seem so great, greater than we can bear, He has a plan for us as He shows us His care for us is as boundless as His mercy.
Ananias’ call was a call to end the suffering and the sorrow of many in the early church. It was a call to teach Saul to be an instrument of God. (Acts 10:15-16) In times of trial and tribulation the call of God to each of us is no different. It is the voice of the Lord coming from the Heavens with a message of hope, love and courage. Perhaps it’s a message for our own lives as we face challenges that seem so insurmountable, or perhaps it’s a message for how we can be His agents of positive change in the lives of those who are lost and hurt, wounded and in pain, like Saul, blinded and stumbling through this world as they seek purpose, the full measure of their anguish now realized. We just need to listen for that voice and to be willing to follow it wherever it may lead us, understanding that it is a calling to true healing.
For as difficult as it may feel like it is or for as hard as the road may seem, God’s hope never leads us astray and His strength is always there for us. We only need to trust in Him, letting His light guide our way, regardless of how dark we may think the path may be. The wisdom of God, after all, may be foolishness to man, but this is only because it works in ways we never thought possible, in ways we couldn’t possibly understand until we have seen it run its course and we’ve reached where it was intended to lead us. It is, in every way the power of healing and reconciliation, as it guides us through the power of His Holy Spirit, reminding us of how weak and small we may be amidst the problems we face or the challenges of this world, we are made great and strong and powerful in His Holy Name.
Lord, grant this unto us all.
Now may the peace of the Lord that transcends all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.