If you have read the Book of Acts, you may remember a certain conversion story recorded there. I like the story, although I feel it has caused some folks to question their own conversion. We don't all have that "Damascus Road Experience" that Saul went through to become Paul...but that's another blog for another day.
Saul, or Paul, is not the one I want to really talk about today. There's another character in the story that I can relate with more, at times. You see, I actually did have one of those "Damascus Road" experiences on the way home from a fishing trip one night, which led me to the place where I can relate more with Ananias...as one having been sent.
This story makes me smile every time I read it. I celebrate Saul's conversion and that "come to Jesus" moment he had, but I absolutely love the honesty and the real hesitation we get to see in Ananias. God said, "Ananias, go to Damascus to Judas' house on Straight Street and find the man named Saul. He's praying and I've shown him that you are going to come and restore his sight."
Ananias does what any of us would have done in the same situation: "God, are you crazy? I don't think this is a good idea. Haven't you heard what this guy is doing to your church?" How many times have we felt led to do something and said, "I don't think so, God"? It happened to me again yesterday.
I had a full day lined up: meeting in the morning, a run to the hospital, then back home to write a discussion on Galatians for tonight. As I drove to Union City for the meeting, I saw something you rarely see on the Union City highway...a hitch-hiker. I mean really, who hitch-hikes from Hickman to Union City?
Confession time: I have a policy that if my girls are with me, I will not pick up a hitch-hiker, nor will I stop to help someone, strictly to maintain the safety of my girls. If I'm by myself I don't mind stopping to help. Yesterday, I was alone...I didn't stop. I justified it by saying, "I've got a meeting in 6 minutes and I can't be late." The fact is, God said "Hey Jay, (that's what my momma calls me, why wouldn't God call me that too?) why don't you stop and see if this guy needs some help?" and I said, "God, I'm running late already, but you know I would if I could."
I wonder what would have happened had Ananias not gone. Have you ever thought about that? What if he had said, "God, this really isn't a good idea. I don't think I need to do this."? Ananias still didn't own his mission. In fact, he told Saul that it was Jesus who had sent him there, and I can respect that. Had he not gone, would the church have survived? Think about it, it is very possible that this one man is responsible for Paul's entire ministry...because he agreed to go.
Now, I know that God could have sent any number of people to Saul, but what if they all had decided it wasn't a good idea? I also know that God didn't need human help to open Saul's eyes, but isn't it cool to think that sometimes God chooses us for a specific mission? I think so.
Here is what I'm going to start working on, and I ask you to do the same. I am going to accept the fact that God has called me for a purpose, and begin seeking to discern the gifts I have been given, and the excuses that I might offer, so that God's design for me can be fulfilled. This means that I will have to accept the fact that I am just not good at some things and allow the folks that God has called for that task use their gifts. I am going to have to admit that I can't do it all and that I'm not a perfect pastor. I will have to confess my hesitations before the throne, and accept that God may send me in spite of them.
I won't always get it right. In fact, I will fail miserably from time to time, and in those moments when I doubt what I'm being asked to do, I have stories like this to look to for strength.