I can read certain passages of scripture over and over and find something new each time. This is an amazing characteristic of the Bible. God doesn't reveal everything at once, he keeps drawing us back to the same words - showing us a little bit more of their meaning each time we read them. Today it was the story of Saul that struck me.
Saul was on the road to Damascus to continue in his persecution of Christians, as was his modus operandi in life. It was along this very road that God stepped in and blinded him, bringing him to his knees physically and spiritually. He had to be physically led the rest of the way to the city where he awaited further instruction. Talk about turning tables. He went from jailing Christians to being at the mercy of the God those very people worshiped.
But God wasn't going to keep him in the dark forever. He had a plan to use Saul and he had a man in mind to help carry out that plan. God called on Ananias - a disciple in Damascus. He told him to go and restore Saul's sight. Can you imagine being handed that job? Go to the man who was coming to persecute you and your fellow Christians and give him back his eye sight so that he can do what? Jail you? I had never thought before about the incredible faith of Ananias. This wasn't healing a sick little boy who, by all appearances, was innocent and naive. This was a man who was known for his hatred and disgust for people just like Ananias. His life mission was to squelch the name of Jesus.
Ananias knows all about Saul and he says that much to God - as if God might have overlooked this little detail. But God is all knowing and he knew why Saul was on that road and what the inital plan had been. But God was changing Saul's plans. He told Ananias to go and, as an obedient child of God, Ananias did as he was told.
Saul was the most unlikely of tools to be used by God to further his kingdom. He had mocked God and the people who put their faith in him. Now, God was going to use him to carry the gospel throughout the world. He penned 14 of the books of the New Testament. The books that we rely on today for guidance, teaching and insight are the very books Paul wrote. All this from a man who put Christians in jail.
God uses the most unlikely candidates to fulfill his purposes. He chooses the unassuming, unique, and unexpected to accomplish great things for his kingdom's sake.
In this world we often fall into the trap of believing life will take a certain path because that is what makes sense. We look for answers that we can understand. We seek tactics that we can comprehend and "grasp." But God isn't that limited. His ways defy logic. Our feeble human understanding can't even begin to see all the possibilities God has in his play book.
We have a flimsy little brochure, God has the New York Library. It is that stunning of a contrast.
There are times when we will all slip up and start seeing things through our own scope, neglecting to acknowledge that God often works in much more interesting and magnificent ways. The key to our walk with God isn't never thinking, "God, this doesn't make sense to me." The key is saying, "God, this doesn't make sense. But if you want me to go forward I will." The key is taking steps in faith, just as Ananias did in the city of Damascus. He didn't hide from God his feelings of concern - he couldn't have hidden them even if his heart was set on it. Instead he was open and upfront with God. He told him his reservations about going to a man infamous for standing in opposition to God. Yet, when God told him to go anyway, he listened.
There was no way Ananias could have known all God had planned for Saul, soon to be Paul. And so it is with us. God might be asking us to take a step of faith that looks foolish, silly, or nonsensical from our perspective. We can't see the future, we can't see how God will fit this into a greater plan. But, just as Ananias shows us, when we walk by faith we can be a part of a magnificent tapestry that will defy our limited vision.
Ananias was given the wonderful gift of playing a part in the journey of a great apostle who would write books that have led countless people to faith and grown the kingdom of Christ in remarkable ways. What part will you play? What part will I play? It may not be what we expect. The rest of the world may laugh at us, mock us, or call us just plain crazy. But pay no mind. God has a greater plan and it will only be revealed if we take our first step in faith: obey.