Do you remember when you first used a GPS? I have had several jobs throughout the years where it was important to know where you were going and how to get there in the fastest way possible. I have delivered pizzas and the mail, as well as worked in real estate. In all of these jobs, when it came to beginning to use the GPS, the hardest thing for me to overcome was my mindset; I thought I already knew where I was going. I would argue with my GPS and tell it that it was taking me in the wrong direction. I would even stubbornly go away from the way that it was trying to take me only to hear it say back to me, “Recalculating, recalculating, make a U-turn.”
In Acts 9, we read about a couple of guys who had a similar experience with God. They thought they were going in the right direction and doing the right thing only to hear God’s voice telling them to turn around and go another way. We read in Acts 8 how Saul of Tarsus was present when Stephen was stoned to death and how he approved of it. Saul was a man who was highly respected among the Jewish leaders. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees who was very religious; he knew the Bible and sincerely believed Christianity was dangerous to Judaism. Therefore Paul hated Christians and felt justified in persecuting them without mercy. In fact, he felt he was doing God a favor by getting rid of these pesky people who talked about a man named Jesus Christ who had risen from the dead.
On one persecution trip, he was heading to Damascus to carry out more vengeance against the Christians when a blinding light shone from heaven and knocked him to the ground and then he heard the voice of Jesus say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He responded by asking, “Who are you Lord?” Jesus then said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” God was repositioning Saul to head in the right direction, God’s direction.
At the same time, God begins to speak to a man in Damascus named Ananias. He was a faithful follower of Christ who had heard about Saul and his attack against Christians. The Lord speaks to him and asks him to go pray for Saul to regain his sight. Like me fighting with my GPS, Ananias has a moment with God where he questions his directions. He said, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
I can relate to Ananias. I’m sure I would have done the same thing if it were me. God is patient with Ananias but gives him clear directions, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” Ananias finally agrees to trust God in this and goes and prays for Saul and he is healed and baptized. Saul will go on to become the greatest apostle next to Jesus and write two-thirds of the New Testament.
Are there areas in your life where you need to change direction? Are you fighting against God and don’t even realize it? I encourage you to pray with me today that God would show us where we need to recalculate or make a U-turn returning to the road leading us where he wants us to go.
Paul was persecuting followers of Christ, yet, Jesus said to Paul, “Why are you persecuting me?” Every time I act or speak, I need to remember that Jesus is either being glorified or persecuted.