Over 30 years ago, I grew to understand a little better Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus. Don’t remember his story? Here it is in his own words.
“My dear brothers and fathers, listen carefully to what I have to say before you jump to conclusions about me.” When they heard him speaking Hebrew, they grew even quieter. No one wanted to miss a word of this.
He continued, “I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions. And I’ve always been passionately on God’s side, just as you are right now.
“I went after anyone connected with this ‘Way,’ went at them hammer and tongs, ready to kill for God. I rounded up men and women right and left and had them thrown in prison. You can ask the Chief Priest or anyone in the High Council to verify this; they all knew me well. Then I went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus there, arrest them, and bring them back to Jerusalem for sentencing.
“As I arrived on the outskirts of Damascus about noon, a blinding light blazed out of the skies and I fell to the ground, dazed. I heard a voice: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?’
“‘Who are you, Master?’ I asked. “He said, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the One you’re hunting down.’ My companions saw the light, but they didn’t hear the conversation.
“Then I said, ‘What do I do now, Master?’ “He said, ‘Get to your feet and enter Damascus. There you’ll be told everything that’s been set out for you to do.’ And so we entered Damascus, but nothing like the entrance I had planned—I was blind as a bat and my companions had to lead me in by the hand.
“And that’s when I met Ananias, a man with a sterling reputation in observing our laws—the Jewish community in Damascus is unanimous on that score. He came and put his arm on my shoulder. ‘Look up,’ he said. I looked, and found myself looking right into his eyes—I could see again!” (Acts 22:1-23)
What a great story. He was blind and then he could see!
But, we must not jump too quickly past the fact that he was blind. And he was blinded by a light that had blinded no one else around him. As his friends led him into the city, I wonder if they asked Paul if he was “faking it.” Or, did they whisper with one another that Paul must be suffering from mental issues. Paul could not have been confident that his sight would return. He was in the dark.
I remember a time in my life when I could not leave the couch. My body was not functioning correctly and my mind was dull and disinterested in the world around me. I spent weeks and months not sure that my life would ever be the same or that I would ever again again live on my own. At work, people wondered if I was “faking it.” Friends at church were concerned that I had “lost it.” My family worried and prayed. And, it wasn’t until my doctor ran an obscure test and was able to diagnosis a rare medical condition that I was able to see a path out of the darkness.
During this time of holiday preparation and cheer, are you struggling with a challenge in your life that is causing you to fear and to experience a darkness like you have never known? Do you know someone who is?
Let me share a prophecy proclaimed by Isaiah many years ago:
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:2,6) This light, this baby, this Prince of Peace is Jesus.
Friend, Jesus is a friend who is closer than a brother. And, even though you may be blind or couch ridden, He can bring light to your darkness.
I would be happy to introduce you to Him.