Saul is raging, breathing fire, in his quest to ferret out Christ’s followers. Fast on their heels, he’s on his journey. He plans to find them, put them in prison, and even kill them. But this time, that doesn’t happen: the experience of this trip would be personal, unique, and life-changing. Saul’s companions hear the voice that speaks to him from heaven but don’t see who speaks, and are speechless. Saul has a conversation with the voice and is left blind from the encounter (Acts 9:9).
Ananias was told by the Lord that Saul would be armed with a simple message to bring about a U-turn in others: whoever you are, kings or kids, Jews or Gentiles – Jesus loves you.
God loves every last one of us as if we were the first and only one. That’s how Saul feels after this amazing encounter with God. Childlike, he is led by adult hands, remaining stunned for three days, not even interested in food or drink. God had arranged this meeting, and it would be a name-changing, game-changing experience that would bring about a U-turn in Saul’s life, physically, mentally and spiritually. A new journey was to begin.
It’s tough for any of us to know what life holds, and rarely, if ever, can we understand someone else’s journey, but we can walk with them, offering a guiding or protective hand. Accepting that hand might be even harder than offering it!
The touch of Ananias is the hand of God on Saul. It heals, enlightens and gives divine power, but it also points in a new direction. Initially worried about going to Saul, Ananias was told by the Lord that Saul would be armed with a simple message to bring about a U-turn in others: whoever you are, kings or kids, Jews or Gentiles – Jesus loves you. Saul sees and believes, and so is saved. Now he shares the U-turn news – ‘Jesus really is the Son of God. I got it all wrong!’ Baptised, he sets off from Damascus, dogged by the devil but his days now determined and directed by God.
Now let’s look at ourselves. The reality for us will likely be less dramatic but just as significant. Our personal journeys will involve considering new directions, towards new targets, over smooth and rough terrain, with others and alone. But, if we are to choose correctly, it will be with the Spirit’s guidance. Saul’s experience was a one-time thing, but we are able to encounter our Lord each day in the quietness of our prayers, so let’s not neglect them!
Colin Jarvis, The Church of God in Swindon