“Our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it.”
At this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill.
~Acts 9:1 The Message
Saul stalking, raging anger, seeking vengeance on the disciples, and believers alike, wants more. The New Living Translation says, “Uttering threats with every breath, eager to kill the Lord’s followers.”
Saul wants blood.
So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them-both men and women-back to Jerusalem in chains. ~Acts 9:1b-2 NLT
Saul, as I often do, has a plan. God has another. How many times I have experienced this in my life. Can you relate to having your plan, your life, divinely interrupted?
As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” ~Acts 9:3&4 NLT
Saul’s divine interruption comes with a hard question. I stop to ponder, has everything he has ever done flashing before his blinded eyes in this moment?
When I am convicted, that is how it typically happens, the guilt of what I have or have not done; yes, not done, because, just as often my sin comes in what I am not doing. It flashes before my eyes, in all transparency I have to tell you it does not flash, but rather, it passes achingly slow. Giving me enough time to weigh the wrong, breaking my heart, making room for grace.
Saul, will soon find the same.
“Who are you, lord?”
My heart tells me Saul knew explicitly who had knocked him to the ground. Knew precisely who was posing the hard question, calling out his name, not once, but twice.
When I was a young teen, packed in like sardines on a church pew with a group of my peers, I was struck with the worse case of the giggles. No matter how valiantly I tried, I could not silence them. The harder I tried, the more control I lost. As the ole time southern preacher, fist in the air, other hand pounding the pulpit, was driving his point home, I was belly laughing loudly enough to bounce and echo off the building walls. A hush fell through out the sanctuary, save for the laughter I could not control. “Tammy,” he calls, “is there perhaps something you would like to share?” In a hair-splitting second, I immediately knew where this was going. And, it was not going to be good.
I speculate Paul might have been feeling the same in that moment.
I love, absolutely love, his response to the question:
“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men with Saul, standing speechless, hear the sound of a voice, but see no one. Saul stands up, I imagine with shaking knees and wobbly legs, opens his eyes, finds he cannot see.
It occurs to me, Saul alone fell to the ground, Saul in his heart, knows what this is about. Saul, the only one struck blind. This divine interruption, divine appointment, was solely between Saul and God.
Saul’s companions led him by the hand to Damascus. What a humbling picture that must have been. Saul, the man who was striking fear in the hearts of the believers, is now led, blind and helpless, by the hand. The irony.
Saul, blind, remains in Damascus three days and does not eat or drink.
Meanwhile on the other side of town, a man by the name of Ananias is receiving his own divine appointment.
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Gifts of Grace