7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
For three days Saul was blind. Saul’s transition was blindness… and no timeline. Yet he trusted and obeyed. Not that he wasn’t seemingly emotionally distraught (notice he stopped eating and drinking). I mean after all we’ve only been told that Saul has been blinded and called out by God. Can you imagine how terrified he was?!? God says, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Imagine what Saul would be thinking?!? I wonder what our response would be here. Would we be obedient, or would we curse God for the suffering? Let’s continue:
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Ok… so the story so far is Saul receives blindness, and is told by God (who Saul was persecuting) to go somewhere with no solid timeline or further explanation. Totally disrupted. Then Ananias (a faithful disciple), is told by God to go lay hands on the very man who was sent to persecute and arrest Ananias. Totally disrupted. Then God says, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” It’s almost like an announcer voice should enter exclaiming, “Finish Him!” (A lame throwback to streetfighter super nintendo games). We read this knowing what is happening next and lost the humanity of those we are reading about. The men in these pages are likely terrified and know not what is happening next. Yet they are being obedient. One man, likely anticipating judgement. Another, assuming he is about to be in the middle of a major altercation. How many of us would assume the evil guy coming to put us in jail would just say “Ok, I’ll follow Jesus now” when we lay hands on him? I would likely have a good portion of concern!!
SO… what? Why even expound on these “minor” details? Why? Well, because I think that we are called to meditate on EVERY Word that comes out of God (Matthew 4:4) and that all of those Words are good for doctrine, reproof, for growth in the righteousness of God! (2 Timothy 3:16). When you realize that God ordained all of these details to be included, FOR A REASON, then you begin to wonder what the value is. You begin to consider what you may gleam from these seemingly worthless details.
I propose, we see an image within this story of two men who have no idea what God is doing, yet they are being obedient. We see one which could easily represent that masses, someone who has cast off a relationship with the Lord and has zealously sought after their own interpretation of what God has planned. The one who is out spoken, and lacking all love. Yet this individual who has found themselves overwhelmed by misdirection truly cares for the Lord. Therefore we can see a beautiful picture, recommendation even, to be obedient. Do not obstinately stand in your tradition, rituals, and fleshly interpretation of the christian life but instead obediently come to the Lord for reconciliation. God is allowing strain to be applied to the Church (though it is minor for sure at this point). God is pruning, shaping, calling to correction like a faithful Father. If God caused Saul to be blind to bring him to his knees so that he could become Paul the Apostle, how far do you think God is going to go to bring you to Truth? Furthermore, how far do you WANT Him to go?! I’ll take just reading a devotion over blindness 😉 CRY OUT IN REPENTANCE! He is faithful to give mercy for He desires mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 9:12).
This has gotten a bit lengthy so I am going to continue tomorrow 🙂 return for the image of Ananias!
God, help me see my proclivity to follow my traditions and rituals. Show me my weakness, where I am deceived, where I need change. I thank You so much for Your grace and mercy. Your willingness to be patient with me. Your ability to see past my shortcomings and inability to use me in great ways! I pray for help to make changes not because I feel You will be “happier” with me, but because I want to honor You! I adore You King Jesus. You are my everything. Shape me, mold me, use me. Amen.
Honestly, I want this devotion to be introspective (self examining). So let’s focus on evaluating ourselves, seeing if we are truly responding to God’s Word. We need to desire verse 17, the Spirit FILLING US! We want Him to overflow, not a righteous version of our flesh that we have manicured to reflect a fake God who we have created! I am praying for change in all of your lives, and mine.