What a whirlwind! The early Christians must have been dizzy with emotions – first fear for their lives as Saul is given license to hunt them down and slay them. Then, rumors of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascas. They must have thought it was a trick. They must have really wanted the rumors to be true!
I especially think Ananias was a brave soul. I’m not sure if he heard an audible voice, but I imagine he questioned if he heard God’s voice telling him to seek out this Saul, whom he knew was infamous for killing men like himself.
But, he obeyed. Ananias went to the house on the street he was instructed to go to (nothing like hearing specific directions fro God, huh?). He said a simple prayer as he was told:
17 Then Ananias 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.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
And, immediately Saul was healed – from his temporary blindness, and his long-term spiritual blindness.
The disciples were skeptical. They did not trust this man. Who can blame them? They probably thought it was a trick to get at the leaders of this movement with the intent to shut them down permanently. But, after a while Saul’s preaching made it clear that there was no deception here. Saul had been miraculously converted.
And, God had big plans for Saul. I like the foreshadowing that he told to Ananias in this chapter:
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
This verse is key in understanding all that is happening in the book of Acts. With the conversion of Saul, as with the persecution of the church to begin with, God was preparing His church to take the good news to the Gentiles and to all the world.
How is your communication with God these days? Do you talk to God? Do you listen for His voice? Or, do you, like many people I know, rely on the lame excuse that God doesn’t really talk to you like that? Perhaps you’ve made agreements with the lie that God doesn’t really talk to people directly, or that God has abandoned you all together (see John Eldredge’s book “Walking With God” for more info on that topic). Or, perhaps you stay way too busy to ever stop and listen for God’s voice.
What if God told you something crazy like this today? Would you quickly dismiss it as your crazy thoughts again? Would you argue with God? Would you obey? What would I do?
The encouragement for me after reading today’s chapter is to slow down and listen for His direction. I may be missing out on very big opportunities.
grace & peace,