"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Our Road to Damascus
Acts 9 King James Version (KJV)
9 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.
The other day as I was driving to work, I took an alternate route instead of the fastest and easiest way. It wasn’t because I planned to or even wanted to, but simply because I was fixated on beating the green light ahead in the direction I often go in order to get to another side of town. In essence, I took the route because I wasn’t focused. Instead of taking the bypass and going through few stop signs and lights on my ten minute commute, I turned it into a fifteen minute stop and go fiasco of bobbing and weaving. Doing my own thing and not paying attention cost me that night as I was already in a rush to get to work. Did I worry about it? No, and it may have even been a divine intervention to help me avoid a catastrophe. The odds are however, I simply went that way because I made it more about beating that light than turning off on the bypass where I was supposed to go. I was busy and in a hurry for no reason and it cost me a mistake.
What I find interesting here is that Saul was doing nothing out of the ordinary for himself in Acts 9. His actions of “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” was nothing he had not done enough to at least be comfortable with by now. The difference this time however, is what happened on the route that changed him. The other night, I went through a ton of stop signs, traffic lights, and even traffic itself. Who’s fault was it? My own of course. Was it life shattering? No, but it did teach me a very practical lesson. Somewhere along the way in life, many of us get like Saul in Acts 9. We may not be persecuting Christians or anyone for that matter, but we get stuck in a habit of doing what we always done, many times the way we want to do it! However, what we always done may not be pleasing or honoring the Lord. Our direction, our journey, our methods, or even our destination may not be a part of the Lord’s will for our life. This is where God steps in with our road to Damascus moment.
When we encounter a life changing moment via the Lord intervening, everything we are familiar with comes to a stop. Everything and everyone honors the presence of God, so much so that if He intervenes in your life with His presence, even life itself is put on hold. He doesn’t care if it is inconvenient, difficult, or even places a burden on your ability to make a living. For those of you not stubborn enough to have ever encountered a road to Damascus experience, good for you! I am unfortunately, not one of those people. Although I love and appreciate God, I have also been stubborn in my ways at times and wanted to do things my way and on my timeline. God does not operate under this type of control however, and has had to correct me multiple times.
As Christians, we often judge Saul, soon to be Paul in this situation. We sit back and think, “man was he messed up.” He persecuted, killed, tortured those who loved Jesus, the very son of the God who Saul claimed to serve. The challenge is this however, think about it from Saul’s perspective in this moment. Are we all really that different from being a modern day Saul in some aspects? Given the culture and context of his day, Saul happened to be a very zealous, educated, prepared, and socially influenced young person of his day. How many young ministers have you met like this in the past? I know I could count myself among those in my early days of ministry. Many of us knew that we were called, but we were also very influenced by our culture in which we immersed ourselves or grew up in. Many young ministers have more education and schooling than their predecessors, and many are very zealous due to age, energy, and motivation. See, Saul thought he was doing the right thing. That is where many Christians are today, doing what they believe to be right. The issue is however, is it what God desires? Are we doing what God has willed for us to do? Are we chasing His aspirations and will, or focused mostly on our own. I believe that if Saul had stopped, taken time with the Lord, and truly dedicated himself to God’s will, his road to Damascus would have been eliminated because he would have already been converted. The problem with Saul however, is the same issue that many of us have. We are so use to the routine of doing things our way instead of Gods way, that we are far too busy to even stop to realize it. I don’t believe that God wants to have to chastise us with a dramatic life experience such as this one, but like me rushing towards that stop light, we are doing what is familiar and appeals to the flesh. What we don’t realize however is how hard we are truly “kicking against the pricks.” That stubbornness will only dig us a deeper hole to climb out of.
So, I encourage you today, take some time with the Lord. For change, stop doing the talking and hear Him out. Let him know that you wish the desires of your heart to be His desires for your life. Let Him know that you are listening. Don’t make Him have to dramatically intervene to get you to listen. If you’re already a child of God, we should already be listening. Follow the journey that God has laid before you today in obedience.