“Ananias countered, “Lord, I have heard many reports about his man [Saul]. People say he has done horrible things to your holy people in Jerusalem.” Acts 9:13 (CEB)
This week’s scripture lesson from Acts 9:1-20 tells the story of Saul, a young man who felt that the follower of Jesus (also called Followers of the Way) were heretics. Punishment for such heresy was stoning to death. Saul stood at the stoning of Stephen and began to lead a massive search to find the Followers of Jesus and throw them into prison. The persecution of these Followers began and escalated at that point.
Saul began a journey to Damascus to do some more arresting of the Jesus Followers, and on the way, he was surprised (to put it mildly) by a blinding light that knocked him to the ground. The voice of Jesus came through the light to ask Saul why he was persecuting him. Note: when the Followers were being persecuted, it was considered a persecution of Jesus, too.
When the light went away, Saul was rendered sightless, and his companions had to lead him to Damascus where he stayed in the home of a man named Judas (obviously, not Iscariot!). So we often call this the conversion of Saul – who became Paul.
Yet, we also sometimes miss another type of conversion that took place, that of Ananias, a Follower whom God called upon to go minister to Saul. This wasn’t a task he was feeling up to doing since, as the scripture above tells us, “[Saul] has done horrible things to your holy people in Jerusalem.”
Obviously Ananias had a close relationship with God because he recognized God’s voice telling him to go, and even after questioning, he went and followed through. Perhaps Ananias realized, once he had met Saul and found him humbled and confused, that a true change had taken place. In verse 17, we read that Ananias placed his hands on Saul and called him “brother.” God spoke to both Saul and Ananias, opening their hearts to remember that their calling was about Jesus, the Christ, not about themselves.
When have we had a call to do something we really didn’t want to do?
How did we respond? Fear? Anxiety? Resistance? Running away?
In what ways can we listen more closely to God’s call in our own lives and follow through when God asks us to do something to serve others in Jesus’ name?