Paul had made a huge u-turn. But this u-turn had not been Paul’s doing. Not at all.
Paul had not chosen to make the turn. Jesus had chosen to take hold of and capture Paul’s heart — and thus turn him around. In fact, he would do more than turn Paul’s life around. He would turn it upside down as well.
As Paul explains many years later to a large crowd in front of the gates of the temple in Jerusalem, he had devoted his life to persecuting the followers of Jesus, “arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison.” (Acts 22:4, NIV). Paul acknowledges he would have been completely content to continue on this track of persecution.
But as Paul was going to a city named Damascus to find and arrest more Christ-followers, Jesus came and personally turned Paul away from this life of attacking his followers.
There on the road, he called for Paul to repent and stop persecuting him (interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus here equates persecuting his followers to persecuting him?). Jesus called Paul to put his faith in him as the true Messiah.
And right there on that dusty road, Jesus gave Paul the very thing he was demanding of him. Jesus gave him repentance and faith.
A few days later, a man named Ananias was sent by Jesus to speak with Paul in Damascus. In his conversation with Paul, he made one thing very clear…
Paul had been freely given a gift. And now Paul was to freely give away that same incredible gift to others.
And turn even more lives upside down.
“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard'” (Acts 22:14-15, NIV).
Lord Jesus, you have given me the wonderful gift of faith. I know you as my Lord and Savior. This is all your doing, not mine. I would gladly have stayed on my sinful track. But you called me away from a life of sin to a life of following you. Now that I have been freely given forgiveness, faith and salvation, move my heart to freely give away these wonderful gifts to others I meet.
Our Bible reading for Thursday, July 2, is 2 Kings 4:38 – 6:23, Acts 21:27 – 22:21 and Psalm 79:1-13.
Header image based on "Give me..." by Matthias Ripp, CC By 2.0