By Gerald Donovan,
First United Methodist Church
What comes to mind when you think of the apostle Paul? A great theologian? He wrote over half of the books found in the Bible’s New Testament. A great missionary and evangelist? He traveled throughout most of the Roman Empire in his lifetime, establishing new Christian churches and converting many people along the way.
The following is an account of a young man named Saul of Tarsus who would become known as the apostle Paul. It has been said that no other human being, except Jesus had a greater impact on the world than Paul of Tarsus.
2000 years ago a man named Ananias lived in Damascus, he was a pious man who enjoyed the respect of all the religious people living there. The great persecutor of the Christian church, Saul of Tarsus had been stricken blind by the Lord as he travelled to Damascus seeking to arrest and persecute followers of The Way in that town. The group that had been traveling with him to help in this persecution picked Saul up and took him to the house of a man named Judas on Straight Street in Damascus. Saul neither ate or drank anything for three days while he was there.
The Lord spoke to Ananias in his dreams. He told him that Saul of Tarsus was staying in that house on Straight street and that Ananias should go and lay hands on him and cure him of his blindness. Ananias resisted because he had heard about what Saul and his followers had done in Jerusalem and knew that they carried instructions from the religious leaders to do the same to those who believed in Jesus. “The Lord replied, “Go! This man is the agent I have chosen to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Ananias went to the house. He placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord sent me, Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you were coming here. He sent me so that you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly, flakes fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got up and was baptized. After eating, he regained his strength. He stayed with the disciples in Damascus for several days. Right away, he began to preach about Jesus in the synagogues. “He is God’s Son,” he declared. Everyone who heard him was baffled. They questioned each other, “Isn’t he the one who was wreaking havoc among those in Jerusalem who called on this name? Hadn’t he come here to take those same people as prisoners to the chief priests?” (Acts 9:15-21 CEB)
Paul learned that change happens to us when we stop pursuing our own blind ambition, when we recognize God’s prodding in our lives, and when we finally surrender to God’s will. That’s where the real adventure begins. It certainly began there for Paul.
Ananias is only mentioned once in the Bible, and that was following the Lord’s instructions to heal Saul, tell him Jesus’s amazing resurrection story, and Baptize him. We never hear or read about him again. But, Ananias’ simple act of following the Lord’s will rather than his own changed the life of this man named Saul. This one man known as Saul, who later became known as Paul was able to Change The World by following the Lord’s will.
None of this would have happened if it had not been for a man named Ananias who listened to the Lord and helped his enemy. Think about that for a minute! Ananias was able to Change The World by helping just one person, Saul of Tarsus. Who is the Saul of Tarsus in your life? You too are being called to change the world one person at a time.