“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. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’” Acts 9:15-16 (NIV)
Our church gives the opportunity every year to read through the New Testament. This is the second year in a row that I’ve chosen to accept the privilege. I love how passages I’ve read my entire life and also exactly a year ago reveal new spiritual truths despite their familiar words. Sometimes, I admit, I almost skim the words because I think I know what they are going to say and then God shows me I had no idea the nuggets of knowledge He had waiting for me on the page.
That happened to me around the end of the summer. I was reading in Acts about Saul’s conversion. For those who aren’t familiar with Saul, before his conversion and name change to Paul, he was considered a “zealous” Pharisee who relentlessly persecuted the early Christians. In fact, in Acts 7, readers are given the impression that Saul might have had something to do with having Stephen stoned to death because “…witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.” (Acts 7:58, NIV) Then, two chapters later, God gets a hold of Saul’s life, blinds him on the way to Damascus and gives him an amazing God encounter which results in Saul surrendering his life completely to God, God changing his name to Paul, and then going on to be part of catalyzing the Christian Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There are two nuggets in this story that God revealed to me, a few days apart. In order to explain the nuggets, I must first continue with a little more background. The story continues in Acts that after God blinded Saul, the men he was traveling with led him into Damascus according to God’s instructions. Saul remained blind for three days, not eating or drinking anything. Meanwhile, God then went and talked to a disciple named Ananias and instructed him to go pray over Saul to restore his sight.
Ananias refused at first. He reminded God that Saul was wicked and liked to kill people like him, so he really didn’t want that assignment. God got more insistent with Ananias and in the verse above stated, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:15-16, NIV)
Come back tomorrow and I will share what God revealed to me through not just these verses but then pulled it all together using an interview I read in Book Fun Magazine.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015