The Hidden Story of Repentance….in the middle of St. Paul’s conversion
Devotion Thought of the Day:
11 The Lord said to him, “Get ready and go to Straight Street, and at the house of Judas ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying, 12 and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he might see again.” 13 Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and about all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who worship you.” 15 The Lord said to him, “Go, because I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel. 16 And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake.” 17 So Ananias went, entered the house where Saul was, and placed his hands on him. “Brother Saul,” he said, “the Lord has sent me—Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 At once something like fish scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptized; 19 and after he had eaten, his strength came back. Saul stayed for a few days with the believers in Damascus. Acts 9:11-19 (TEV)
Most believers know well the events on the road to Damascus, as Saul the persecutor of the church is confronted by Jesus, and is transformed into the Apostle Paul. This scholar, missionary, apostle’s repentance is easy to see, and often held out as an example of the work God does, in giving someone a repentant spirit.
But in the midst of Paul’s conversion there is another story of repentance. Notable because the man who repents is already a believer. Yet, even as Paul didn’t recognize God or God’s will, neither did Ananias. Until they both repented. Until they both responded to God’s intervention.
Perhaps it is because of Paul’s incredible story, that we miss the story of Ananias, and the transformation that occurs in his life. For he repents, and goes, and shows to Saul/Paul the love of God, and brings healing to Saul/Paul’s eyes, and to his soul.
I think for those of us in the church, we often forget to repent, we often forget to hear God’s call to love Him with everything, and to love other humans as much as we love ourselves. We hang onto resentment and fear, we allow rumors and generalizaitons to fire us up and fuel division, even leading to hatred. We get defensive and hostile.
Worse of all, we lose our faith. Ananias forgot the will of God, that desires that all come to repentance, to be transoformed. He forgot the power of God that would transform Saul, and he being overwhelmed by fear, his faith in God disappeared. He didn’t hear God, he didn’t trust Him. In fact, in disobedience, he tries to correct God.
The blessing is how God dealt with Ananias, much the same as God dealt with Paul. He revealed Himself, He revealed His love, and He welcomed Ananias to share in God’s plan. This is what Jesus is talking about when He says, “15 I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. 17 This, then, is what I command you: love one another.” John 15:15-17 (TEV)
Ananias repents, as does Paul. Both then God continues to transform, conforming them to the image of Christ. Both the believer and the unbeliever, brought deeper into relationship with God.
Two incredible stories of repentance.
Brought about by God, who desires we all experience this blessing.