“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you Lord?’ I asked.
“I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied (Acts 22:21:6-8).”
When the risen Lord Jesus encountered Saul, later to be known as the Apostle Paul, on the journey toward Damascus it changed everything. Saul was, by his own admission, a persecutor of the followers of Jesus. He was bent on the destruction of the Jesus movement. He was convinced that the church of Jesus was apostate and heretical. Following the Lord’s encounter with him, however, Saul’s name was changed to Paul, he was sent to be an apostle to the Gentiles, one of the most influential leaders of the first-century church and, as we see in many of his letters in the New Testament, he understood himself to be “a slave of Jesus Christ.”
Too much of our religion today is spent on trying to get more and more of what we want from God. We have ideas of what we want to be, what we need to succeed in life, what we require to be truly happy. We bring these agendas to God and ask God to give them to us. While it is always good and appropriate to bring all of our requests to God, it’s important to remember that in the Bible whenever people are encountered by God, the direction of their lives changes. Saul becomes Paul, but more importantly, the direction and intent of his life shifts. Lenten discipline requires that we stay open to the ongoing change and course-correction God wills to make in our lives. After all, Jesus didn’t ask if we would like him to follow us; he called us to follow him!
Prayer: “Lord, help me to stay open to the changes you wish to make in my life. Help me to stay open to your ongoing course-corrections for me.”