Acts 9:1-2: “Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”
Wow! This guy, Saul, was aggressive. He didn’t simply wait for orders to persecute Christians; he initiated requests with the high priest for documentation that gave him the right to seek them out to persecute them! He was “breathing out murderous threats” against anyone who had chosen “the Way”. I love the sound of those words – “the Way”. Not any old way but The Way. No vacillating here, no beating around the bush. They had chosen “The Way.” I love that!
Verses 3 through 9 tell us that the Lord appeared to Saul in a vision saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He further told Saul to go into the city and wait for his instructions. Saul was blind for three days from that encounter with Jesus and had to be led by the hand into Damascus.
Verses 10 and 11 tell us that the Lord told a disciple named Ananias to find Saul and “place his hands on him to restore his sight.” I have heard several sermons on how frightened Ananias must have been and of course he was. I have often wondered how Ananias had the slightest courage to go see Saul when Ananias was a believer and Saul had been breathing murderous threats against believers and doing all he could to see them in stocks, or worse. He hated believers and had the power to act on that hate.
But as I read it today, it “clicked” that God had prepared Saul with a vision to receive Ananias and He had also prepared Ananias with a vision that bolstered his courage to go to Saul, lay hands on him and restore his sight. It was humanly impossible for Ananias to come near Saul. It was humanly impossible for Saul to receive Ananias (or anyone who was a believer) let alone allow him to lay hands on him with the intent of healing his sight. God prepared both men.
God always prepares us to do what He asks us to do, sometimes in amazing ways. So often, we don’t recognize that it is He who has prepared us. In fact, we sometimes see ourselves as courageous or smart in the way that we handle a situation or crisis. We are highly blessed and favored if God has brought us to the place where we recognize that He is our source of wisdom and courage. It is always, always, He who has prepared us to speak or act for Him and it is He who has prepared those around us to accept our words or actions in a way that makes a positive and significant difference.
Recognizing that He is the source of our wise or courageous actions keeps us from the obnoxious character flaw of pride and all of the sins that follow. Giving God the glory keeps us thankful, gracious and useful in the lives of those around us and drives us ever closer to our Source.
How blessed we are!