As I study the conversion of Paul and while he was still Saul persecuting the Christians, Ananias was called by God to go and heal him after he was blinded by the Truth. Acts 9:11-12 states “And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Surely, Ananias would be fearful for going to such a man. Recently, I read a wonderful poem entitled “Ananias”.
“I heard you, Lord: ‘Heal him’. But…may I say a word? This Saul–haven’t I heard about Jerusalem and how he scorched us there–the violence, terror, despair?”
Ananias, what matters to us nineteen centuries since is that you shattered such logic and listened. Routing your own resistance, you trusted, freeing the verse of your heart with the rhythm of intuition. Love-led, you dared face hatred with compassion.
Not that you didn’t question–we all have. But out of that blaze you came, wide-eyed and childlike, to uncritical innocence.
Without your kind, the Sauls would be nothing but blind.
Author-Rushworth M. Kidder
This story hits home to me as I sometime wonder if God knows the entire story of what He is asking me to do. Yes, He always does and today I will listen and obey.
While studying the 9th Chapter of Acts and seeing the before and after of Saul, I am amazed as Ananias listens to God. Saul had long been a persecutor of the Christians until he was blinded by the Truth on his way to Damascus. Ananias was told by God to go and heal Saul of his blindness, but in the 13th verse of Acts:9 he says “Lord, I have heard from many about this man how much harm he did to your saints at Jerusalem;”.
This reminds me of different times I have felt humanly justified in not listening to God. Maybe it was a fear of an upcoming event or a dislike of another person. Whenever I feel a struggle within, I know I am trying to humanly outline rather than listen to God. In the story of Saul before he was transformed into Paul, it would have been easy for Ananias to know he was justified in his feelings toward this man, who had caused so much heart-ache to many, but he had put his personal fears and opinions aside and obeyed God. With the healing of Saul, Paul became invaluable to the Christian movement. We are constantly reminded in our study of the Bible to replace fear with God’s Love and let His purpose unfold. Today, I will watch even closer and replace my human will with His will.
Before the conversion of Paul, he was a well-known persecutor of the Christians, even murdering some. After seeing the light, he went on to become one of the most famous of the followers of the Christ. In Acts 28:4-6, it reads, “When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they began saying to one another, ‘Undoubtedly this man is a murderer, and though he has been saved from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’ However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. But they were expecting that he was about to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.”
That could not have been possible, I feel, had Paul been weighed down with guilt from his past, but through God’s forgiveness as well as his own and releasing all self-condemnation, he was able to become a great Christian and perform great things. I am reminded that in order to touch the hem of Christ’s robe, I have to be on my knees. Releasing the past completely, the future looks so promising.
Acts 16:25,26 reads, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.” Many times, right when life seems the darkest and I am fearful and mesmerized with what seems real humanly, if I turn gratefully and humbly to God, I am released from bondage! That is the exact time I need to sing and praise God!