WE TAKE A LEAP OF FAITH IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S CALL
The setting is Damascus… the year is AD 36… just three years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We meet Saul, a devout and learned Jew with a zeal for the religion of his forefathers. His hatred of Christians (followers of The Way) is based on his belief that Jesus of Nazareth was a false Messiah… a rebel who wrongly claimed to be one with God.
Saul fervently tries to rid the world of any who are opposed to his Jehovah God. He zealously pursues and persecutes Christians, determined to eliminate this “dangerous” religious sect for the glory of God and the preservation of his own Judaism.
Before we meet our unsung hero and man of faith, Ananias, we see Saul setting out for Damascus. He is carrying a letter from the Sanhedrin giving him permission to persecute any Christians he discovers there. Along the way, Saul encounters the resurrected Christ and his life is turned upside down. Suddenly blinded by a brilliant flash from heaven, he falls to the ground and hears a voice saying…
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”
“Who are You, Lord?”
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting… Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
…When he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. – Acts 9:4-6, 8
Imagine Saul’s reaction to hearing the voice of Jesus! The impact of meeting the Messiah in all His glory makes Saul’s holy quest, his life’s pursuit, now appear terribly misguided and wrong. All that he believed to be false is now revealed as true.
Meanwhile, God is working behind the scenes in the life of another devout disciple… this one a disciple of Christ. Our quiet hero, Ananias, a follower of The Way, enters the scene. He, too, meets the risen Christ.
The Lord calls to Ananias in a vision, asking him to visit Saul and place his hands upon him to restore his sight. Yet Saul’s reputation has preceded him. This disciple has heard of Saul’s persecution of Christians and his intent to arrest any in Damascus. Ananias is at first reluctant to answer the Lord’s call until Jesus gives a compelling reason…
“Go! This man is My chosen instrument to proclaim My name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.” – Acts 9:15-16
Ananias takes a leap of faith in obedience to his Lord. In the face of possible imprisonment or even death, Ananias places his absolute trust in Christ to stand by him. Putting aside his fear and trepidation, he enters the home where Saul is staying and welcomes Saul as a brother…
“Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 9:17
Ananias places his hands upon Saul. Immediately, what appears to be scales fall from Saul’s eyes and he can once again see. The Holy Spirit transforms Saul into a follower of Christ. He is given a new mission in life. His zeal is now only for his risen Lord.
Saul’s new calling… an about-face and fresh direction for his life… begins to unfold. He sets aside his Hebrew name and takes on his Greek, more familiar name, Paul. He becomes a mighty force in reaching the Gentiles with the gospel message.
Our unsung hero, Ananias, plays a key role in God’s divine plan. He will be forever remembered as one who gives his all to the Lord… one who trusts so completely as to put aside all fear and take a leap of faith in answer to his Lord’s calling. Ananias is a model of powerful faith that comes from walking with Christ. His obedience to the One he loves stems from a knowledge of how loved he is by his Savior.
The name Ananias means “Yahweh has been gracious”. Ananias takes this to heart. The grace that Christ has so lovingly bestowed upon him, he is able to extend to even the worst of his enemies. He offers grace to Saul, the persecutor of his own people. He welcomes him as a brother, acting as the Lord’s emissary and participant in Saul’s healing and baptism with the Holy Spirit.
What would have happened had Ananias succumbed to his fear and refused the Lord’s calling? God will use us if we are available and willing to answer His call. Yet His plan will not be thwarted. God will find another if we refuse. However, we will miss the chance of playing a key role in His divine plan. We will pass up the opportunity of seeing His eternal design unfold.
Will you, like Ananias, choose to be an unsung hero in God’s heavenly plan? Will you take a leap of faith in obedience to His call? Will you extend the grace that the Lord has so generously given to you to whomever He brings in your path? We dare not miss out on the privilege of participating in kingdom work that yields eternal results.