[reprinted from March 16, 2012]
[Ananias said,] “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17 (HCSB)
Ananias was a disciple that was called by God in a vision (Acts 9:10) to go to Saul of Tarsus and deliver His message. Ananias probably asked the question that anyone of us who has ever had a vision has asked, “Is this really You, God?”. Ananias is being sent to the most feared man in their immediate world. Saul was known as a hunter and killer of Believers in the Way. Ananias would probably rather hear anyone’s name from God’s lips but Saul’s.
God doesn’t “give up” on people as quickly as most of us do. Jesus is the the One, the only one who gets to pass judgment and dismiss someone and yet it is not uncommon for us to dismiss people, even groups of people, as “unacceptable” to receive our witness. Like Ananias I may think I know all about someone but what I don’t know is about what the Holy Spirit is doing or has done in their life before God sends me to them. To Ananias, Saul was blind. But Saul had spent three days in the presence of the Holy Spirit and it was time for the blind to see.
Has God given you a “Saul assignment”? Are you trying not to hear His command? Is God asking you to welcome a gay couple who have begun attending your church? Or maybe God tells you to pray, actively pray every day, for someone you know who is – yet again – in rehab for drugs or alcohol.
I have had some people in my life who might have been named “Ananias”. The first one who comes to mind is my mother. I wasn’t an easy child. I always had questions and could rarely take the “easy road” as I grew up. I know that my mother prayed for me every day. When I left the church as a young adult, it must have been very difficult for my mother to trust God to turn that situation around. It wasn’t her nature to try to “argue me into faith” and if she had it probably would have caused me to dig my heels in deeper.
God may call me to speak directly to someone or He may ask me to quietly and steadfastly live my life out in Him before someone. What God does ask me to do is not give up. When other people may dismiss people because “they’re sinners”, “they are gay” or “they are homeless”, God may ask me to call them brother or sister. God will never send me where He hasn’t already been. By the time God sends me to a Saul – who knows what I might find!
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me [Why?] so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. [Here’s the important part!] Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:15-17 (NLT, my emphasis and comments)
I Am A Friend of God written & sung by Israel Houghton