“It is amazing that Paul, by the power of the Holy Spirit, actually catalyzed the Christian church, which has become the most powerful movement in human history.”
George Weaver, Book Fun Magazine September 2015
Last time we were together, I shared that God gave me two nuggets regarding the life of Paul and shared the background of the story of how he went from being Saul, a man zealous for ridding the world of Christians to Paul, a man zealous to share just how real God was.
The first thing God showed me was that there were consequences to Paul’s previous behavior. When Ananias was afraid, God didn’t back down with His directions, but He did offer an explanation along with His command. He reassured Ananias he would be safe, but He also stated that while He has chosen Paul specifically for this assignment, “…I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’” Acts 9:16 (NIV)
I had never really thought about Paul in that way previously. I knew that Paul had suffered much for Christ during his ministry years, I knew that Paul had asked God repeatedly to take away the “thorn in his flesh” multiple times and then finally submitted when God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:9, NIV) But I had never really seen where God told Ananias He was going to show Paul how much he must suffer for God.
Now…I hate to admit this, but I think I got a little smug. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, God gave him what he deserved, punishment and torture.” However, God lovingly reminded me vengeance isn’t in my gene pool and showed me the whole picture just two days later through the above quote from Book Fun Magazine.
Yes, God did allow Paul to pay the price in suffering for loving God just as He allows many others in this world to suffer persecution for His name. However, God didn’t turn a blind eye to that suffering. He was right there with Paul every step of the way. And Paul was known throughout history as being a man who “catalyzed the Christian church, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Wow – what a legacy! So while he suffered much, God used that suffering for good and was able to do great things through Paul because Paul unreservedly, unashamedly, wholeheartedly served God.
That’s when I realized God made Saul and knew he had a zealous personality for truth. While he was misguided as a young man, he still was very zealous in his confusion and that caused a lot of hurt. However, once he allowed God to get a hold of him and reveal the truth, he used that same zealous personality for good…good that affected millions of people and is still affecting millions of people today. God knew that Paul could handle the tough assignment. He was the Navy Seal of the Bible…not afraid to get in there and get the job done.
Made me think of two things: One, God is a just God. There are consequences to our actions. However, God is also a loving God and while He had a special way to use Paul’s enthusiastic personality (and let’s face it, some people are just destined to do greater things than others) He was with Paul the entire time. Paul suffered, but he also reaped many blessings from his relationship with God and was able to use his talents to help point millions of people to the One true God. While his beginnings were off course, when he let God get a hold of his life, his ending was amazing. There’s always hope for all of us my friend.
I will never qualify as a Navy SEAL for the military, and God may never ask me to be His SEAL either, but I do choose to be the best “me” for Him, with His strength, that I can be.
© Cheri Swalwell 2015