I just love Paul. He seems like one of those people who make for really good conversation. It is so clear that he was someone who diligently meditated on God’s Word; a person who formed his opinions on truths that God had spoken, and someone who intentionally endeavoured to ensure that his attitude, thoughts and actions were submitted to God.
Was Paul perfect? No! In fact, he wrote one of the passages in the Bible that is most often used to illustrate the terrible struggle that each of us has in submitting the will of our flesh to the will of God (Romans 7:15 NIV “For what I want to do I do not do…”). He also, like you and me, hadn’t met Jesus in the flesh; but he did have an exceptionally powerful encounter with Him on the road to Damascus.
This was an encounter that fundamentally altered the trajectory of Paul’s life – up until this point, as a devout Pharisee, he had been chief persecutor of Christians, even approving the stoning of Stephen and “guarding the clothes of those who were killing him” (Acts 22:30 NIV). Let’s take a look at the encounter he had with Jesus, as he tells it:
Acts 2:6-8 NIV
“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.”
This is the catalyst for the incredible transformation that occurs in Paul’s life; he moves from being a chief persecutor of Christians to becoming a chief proponent of Christianity – and one of the most-loved writers of the Bible (at least in my case!).
To me, the lesson here is profound in its simplicity: anyone can change. Anyone. No-one is immune to God’s power, and no-one is exempt from God’s grace. In fact, very often, those who seem most lost end up doing some of the most significant work for God’s Kingdom.
Who do you know today who seems to be impossibly far from God? Is it a loved one, colleague or perhaps just an acquaintance? Be encouraged today that Jesus came to seek and save them. Continue to pray for them – or perhaps begin to pray for them again.
Written by Michelle Bruyns