Brent Messick is Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director of Operations.
Saul was a religious extremist. He would lead death squads to hunt down and kill followers of “The Way,” the early Christian movement after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In fact, he was on such a mission to Damascus, when his plans got interrupted. Jesus had had enough. He had other plans for Saul. Saul is blinded by a bright light from heaven, he gets knocked to the ground, and he hears Jesus ask, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Saul is totally blind for three days. Then his sight is restored, he is baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul starts preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, and becomes one of the most powerful and prolific preachers and evangelists in Christian history. What a conversion story?!
But I go back to the time when Saul was blind. He couldn’t see, and he didn’t drink or eat for three days. Here is one of the most powerful, most feared religious leaders of the day, who has been rendered totally helpless. What do you think he did for those three days? What do you think he thought about?
I think Saul looked at his life and didn’t like what he saw. He was a Pharisee, knowledgeable about the Old Testament and God’s love for His people. Yet, here Saul is going around murdering God’s people. I believe Saul is a man living with a lot of internal turmoil. He was living in darkness, which I believe was symbolized when he was blinded from heaven.
Saul has a choice to make. He can continue to live in turmoil and darkness. Or he can live in the light and do what God really intended for him. He chose the latter.
Saul’s story is my story. Although I did not persecute any Christians, I used to persecute a lot of golf balls on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I was not raised in a religious home, nor did I attend church very often as an adult. I was the classic CEC Christian: Chrismas, Easter, and Crisis. I had not even read the Bible until late in life.
As I look back on my life, I can see how I was persecuting Jesus, but in different ways. Jesus commands us to love God and to love our neighbor. Clearly, I was not succeeding at either. Don’t get me wrong. I tried to be a good person. I loved and took care of my family while I climbed the corporate ladder. But my life was not God-centered.
Finally, Jesus had had enough with me. He had other plans for me. About 11 years ago, he led me to the Church of the Resurrection, and about the same time he made me take a Disciple Bible Study class. It wasn’t as dramatic as a bright light, but my eyes and my heart were opened. Jesus has helped me to see and understand I can love other things in addition to my family and my job. I don’t persecute as many golf balls as I used to, but I realize that I have so many other blessings in my life and try not to take any of them for granted anymore.
If Jesus wants you, he’ll let you know when you least expect it. Just ask Saul.
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