SAUL BECOMES PAUL
“But Ananias answered, ‘Lord I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem…’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.’” Acts 9:13, 15 (ESV)
Everyone loves a redemption story. You don’t have to browse for more than 30 seconds on Netflix to find some examples. An alcoholic father watches his son help the Hoosiers win, restoring their relationship. Vader hurls the emperor to his death, sacrificing himself to save Luke. Gru saves his adopted daughters from the villain, returns the moon, and receives a goodnight hug along with an “I love you” from the daughter most resistant to the adoption. That one gets me every time I watch it! (I know most of those titles aren’t on Netflix, just bear with me.)
In Acts 8, the early Christian church is the underdog. People are being snatched out of their homes, imprisoned, and in many cases executed. Saul is the main guy leading the assault against the Christians. The persecution scattered many to distant lands, and the saints that remained needed to keep a low profile to stay alive. Then out of the clear blue sky, God flipped the script on Saul, calling him to be one of His children and to spread the gospel, which Saul had been working so diligently to eradicate.
Paul’s conversion was not doves and roses, a teary warm-fuzzy response to an altar call. He was knocked off of his conveyance and blinded by the presence of the Lord. He needed help. (Enter Ananais.) God called Ananais to go to Saul and minister to him, to be the vehicle of recovery for Saul, allowing him to be the messenger that God had called him to be. Imagine the faith required to actually seek out this persecutor, when all along you’ve been trying to stay out of his sights! Also, imagine the sublime glory of witnessing his restoration into the will of the Father.
Restoration is for everyone. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, “This is good, and is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Regardless of a person’s past, God has a path of recovery available for everyone. Let God use you as a vehicle of recovery for the lost and broken.
Practical application: Smile at a stranger. Hold a door for someone. Be a helping hand where you see a need. The smallest act could open the door to greater things. Be open to opportunities the Lord presents for you to be His guide along the path of recovery.