“Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ So the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.’ Then Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your Name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My Name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel.'”
As I ponder these words, I can’t help but think about how the Lord orchestrates our lives – how he puts all the pieces in place. Through this example of Scripture, I want us to understand this principle of God’s Sovereignty a little better.
To begin with, Ananias had a listening ear – he heard the Lord when He spoke. But, Ananias was reluctant to obey. He knew Saul’s reputation and tried to talk God out of His plan. After being honest with the Lord, Ananias chose to trust God, even though his mind told him this was a bad idea – His faith and trust in the Lord won out. His obedience not only restored sight to Saul, but it was Saul’s first understanding of how personal God is with His children. It was his first lesson in faith.
What is God’s motivation or purpose for sending Ananias to Saul? “…he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My Name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.”
Before Saul was even born, God had a plan for his life; He knew Saul before his birth, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me when as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16) God had ordered Saul’s steps all along. He was created for a purpose.
But, in order for that purpose to unfold, the Spirit of God had to work through people – people with obedient hearts.
Let’s start with Saul, “…for behold, he is praying.” Saul had been blinded on the Damascus Road and taken to the house of Judas. “For three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drank.” (verse 9)
He spent his time in prayer and fasting. PRAYER. Saul had met his Savior, the Christ whom he had opposed. God had literally stopped Saul in his tracks and changed the direction of his life.
Did Saul sit around murmuring and complaining? No. He prayed. And because he prayed, God spoke to him in a vision and told him that a man named Ananias would come to restore his sight. The spirit of God encouraged him through his prayer time.
What if Saul had not prayed? I don’t know. Would God still have sent Ananias? Probably, because God had already ordained Saul’s ministry. But, Saul would have spent these three days in fear and confusion over his blindness. Maybe he would have lashed out in anger towards God. I don’t know, but I think it is safe to say had Saul not spent his time in prayer, Satan would have spent three days beating him up, creating doubt and fear.
And possibly, the purpose of his life would have been postponed.
Has God ever stopped you in your tracks? Did you spend your time analyzing your experience, feeding the doubts Satan sent your way? Or, did you cry out to the Lord in prayer, accepting in faith that He was at work?
Saul waited on God.
We must learn to wait also.
I once was blind, but now I see.
Lord, You have ordered the steps of my life. Before I was born You knew me. You have called me by Your Name. Thank You Lord. As I look back over my life I can see how you have put the pieces together to bring me to this place. I once was blind, but now I see. You have promised that “everything works together for our good, to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.” Thank You, Lord for making that promise clearer. I give You praise.