Monday, February 7, 2011

Day Changer

There are times when life feels too big. Too daunting. Overwhelming. Sometimes I dialog with God about it. "Ummm... You want me to do what? I think you picked the wrong girl for that job." And then like Moses, I run down the laundry list of reasons why I am NOT qualified and why someone else would be perfect for the job instead. Obedience is not easy. It requires great courage and faith. I've never looked back at a time in my life where I waffled between complacency and obedience and regretted choosing obedience.

I was reading Acts chapter 9 today at the gym and got the giggles. Saul, a leading Jewish ruler in Jerusalem who hated anyone who followed The Way, was "breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples." He was so zealous to squash the rebellion that he got permission to travel out of Jerusalem for the sole purpose of seeking out new believers and bringing them back to Jerusalem as prisoners. On his way to Damascus, he is stopped in his tracks by a "light from heaven that flashed around him." Saul is physically blinded by the light and Jesus speaks to him audibly through the clouds. Jesus gives Saul instructions to continue into the city and tells Saul he'll receive further instructions once he's there. Talk about a day-changer!

While Saul is fumbling his way into Damascus, Ananias, a follower of Jesus, is also about to have his day changed. He has no idea what's about to hit him. First, "the Lord called to him in a vision." Ananias probably didn't anticipate audibly hearing from God when he planned the events of his day. Second, God give him specific instructions, down to the address, of a house He wants Ananias to visit. He tells Ananias, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight." I've got to believe that if Ananias wasn't shaking in his sandals before this, he is frozen in terror now. Every believer had heard of Saul and his deadly hatred. Going for a Christian visit to pray for Saul's healing was probably not on Ananias' Bucket List.

Ananias' response was all too familiar to my own, but more subdued. "Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name." My response would have been more like, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!?!? That's like signing my own death warrant. I'm pretty sure you have the wrong girl."

I love that God doesn't get mad at Ananias. He simply replies, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." And with that explanation, Ananias puts his big-boy pants on, takes a deep breath, and goes. He "went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord - Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here - has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again." God changed Saul's name to Paul and Paul became the most effective missionary of all time, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire known world.

What if Ananias would have allowed fear to drive his decision and said no to God? Who would God have chosen to use instead? Ananias' courageous obedience allowed him the exclusive opportunity to be witness to history in the making and to have a role in Paul's supernatural healing! What a huge honor.

It made me reflect on my own life. Is there something God is asking me to do that just sounds absurd? Am I letting fear dictate my decisions? If I say no, what will I miss out on? Who will God use in my place? I don't want to miss my chance for greatness in God's kingdom. What about you?

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