Acts 9:1-22 – The Conversion of Saul
One of my favorite stories is the conversion of Saul. I have great respect for Saul/Paul who turned from his evil ways to follow Christ. In fact, in many ways I relate to Saul more than any other disciple. Whenever I seek forgiveness from the Lord for things I don’t even want to dare speak out loud, I remember Saul/Paul. God forgave Saul for so many murderous acts and used him for His mighty and good deeds. None of us are beyond redemption.
Yet today as I read through this scripture my thoughts came to Ananias. When the Lord goes to Ananias with a request, Ananias freezes. What? You want me to go to that Saul guy and pray over him for healing. Are you kidding? He is one scary dude. No way.
God continues to offer support for Ananias. Ananias is quite aware of his limitations. He knows personally that he cannot heal Saul. He also knows that he can only do this with God’s strength, but even that is doubtful to him for a brief minute. Can God really turn Saul into a disciple for Christ?
I am sure with his tail between his legs, Ananias goes to Saul and prays over him these words, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The scales fell off of Saul’s eyes and his sight was restored. Of course we all know how the story ends; Saul becomes Paul who becomes a great disciple for Christ. He goes on to recruit and convert many hearts for God’s Glory. So what happened to Ananias? I am sure he was excited to see the great deed he was able to perform for God’s Glory. Wouldn’t he want to stick around to see how he could help more?
What I found extraordinary about Ananias is he knew his limitations. He did exactly what God instructed him to do and nothing more. He didn’t continue to help Saul find his way. He prayed over him and was the strength for Saul to recover. That was God’s Will. That was Ananias’ task. Check. Done. Complete.
Today, I find that sometimes I push God’s Will. When I do something powerful for God, I want to do more! I want to take it one step further because my pride gets the best of me. I surpass the limitations God gives me because that is who I am (a little competitive spirit that God gave me). Isn’t that what God wants me to do? Doesn’t he want me to take it a step further? I mean I can, so why wouldn’t I continue the work?
The answer is within this scripture. No God doesn’t. He wants me to carry out His Will, and if I take that a step further then I have pushed my boundaries. God might have someone else in mind for that. In the case of Saul, Barnabas would soon take over and make the introduction of Paul to the disciples, then the disciples would take Paul from there. Ananias was step one, the rest was to be left up to God.
Limitations are hard to decipher because we think just because we can, then we should. Yet God is only requesting us to do His Will, not ours. When we push the boundaries and surpass our limitations, we put dysfunction into God’s plan.
So how do we discern God’s Will? Through prayer, constant communication with God, in scripture and by keeping ourselves in check. Discover what it means to be prideful. Remember your selfish desires need to be placed to the side. Pray for God to give you wisdom.
Remember – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.