Over the years I have been called some interesting names, but let’s face it, I remain the same person that my parents named me. That name Edward could have come from a great grand-father who was gored to death by a bull, or possibly an uncle who fell on the job, gained gangrene in his leg, and lost his life. No one could ever satisfy my thinking as to whom I was named after.
As I read the account of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, and then the recap of his past in Corinthians – An explosive conversion on the Road to Damascus, trained at the feet of Gamaliel, (Acts 22:) and then persecution endured because he stood firm for Christ when accused unjustly with pettiness by some of the “saints”, I thought to myself, “what a stalwart”!
Then I read again Acts 9, thinking that my recognition of Christ as the Savior of the World was not as climactic as his. Fortunately, only Saul of Tarsus was being dealt with by the Lord at that moment. In all probability, you may have had a similar experience as God dealt with you.
As you go farther into the story and read of his blindness, his journey of being led the rest of the way into Damascus, and then God confronting a disciple called Ananias, and instructing him to go to Saul at the Street called Straight, to a house owned by Judas, and he would find Saul of Tarsus praying.
All of these little details had to fall into place. Ananias had to listen close to what God told him because it could not be happenstance. The concern demonstrated by Ananias was justified; he knew already the reputation of Saul, but hearing was exceptional as he went to straighten Saul out, see him regain his vision. Like we read, it was on Straight Street.
Just suppose that you knew all of the details of what God had in store for you in a situation such as this; do you think you would be quick to respond to what lay down the road ahead? I will present what Ananias heard concerning Saul and his future. “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15, 16)
Do you think that Saul, who later became known as Paul, ever forgot the gracious greeting that he received from Ananias? “Brother Saul”? (Acts 9:17) A reminder here – Saul also known as Paul (Acts 13:9) Or, would there be a greater act of service and friendship than that of Barnabas “who took hold of him (Paul) and brought him to the apostles…” (Acts 9:27)
From the moment that Saul/Paul received his encounter from God, we read of his efforts to make Christ known to all with whom he came in contact. However, he immediately began to meet opposition in many forms; he was beat numerous times, stoned, ridiculed by some fellow believers, imprisoned, and even had to be let down over the walls of a city in a basket. This is the same man who was warned that this would be his life-style until his dying day. It never deterred him from his determination to follow the Lord in obedience!
Thanks be to God for the men involved in a man named “Saul of Tarsus” who became known as Paul the Apostle! Also, look for a man that you might disciple for Christ.