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But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. Acts 9:15

I pity those who read the Bible with solemnity and fail to see the humor in many of the stories of our faith. Or, maybe it’s just that I have a sick sense of humor. At any rate, one of the stories I find most amusing is the story of poor Ananias.

We know little about this disciple of Jesus other than that he lived in Damascus and was visited by the Lord one day to embark on a most amazing journey. Unknown to him, in a room a few blocks away, a man huddled in darkness. The man, named Saul, was well-known to the early Christians. He was loud, brash and had no time for anyone following this man Jesus. He knew the Law. He knew what was right. And he would do anything to protect the religious traditions of his people…even to the point of death.

That’s why he was in Damascus…or so he thought. Saul left for Damascus to round up people like Ananias and drag them back to Jerusalem for a quick mock trial, a beating, and if Saul had his way, death by stoning. No one did more to try to destroy the early church than Saul.

But God had other plans and those plans were dramatically different for both Saul and Ananias. That’s often the way God is. He doesn’t follow the beat of our drums; he marches to his own music. The written Word doesn’t express the emotion that Ananias must have felt that day.

“Really God? Saul? You have to be kidding! Do you realize what you are asking me to do? He’s blind now? Good! Let him suffer for awhile. Look at what he’s done to your people.”

That’s probably a little more like the conversation I’d have had with God, and if you are honest, so would you.

The story of Ananias reminds me of at least two lessons that we all need to be reminded of. First, if we really sell out for Jesus, if we are really willing to ‘Go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do’ we can expect to be taken out of our comfort zone. The uttermost parts of the earth Jesus told us to take his gospel to may not always include squeaky clean churches and orderly programs. In fact, he rarely does his work there.

Secondly, the story of Ananias reminds me to never, ever look at any person and say “God will never be able to use him/her. He’s too bad, made to many mistakes, and has too sordid a past.” God uses people like Saul all the time. Those we overlook as not being a good choice for kingdom work may very likely be God’s first choice.

Oh and there’s one more thing the story of Ananias reminds me of. It reminds me to be thankful. You see, I have far more in common with Saul than I do Ananias. I’m thankful though that, like Saul, Jesus found me!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, like Saul I confess that I fail you often. Sometimes from ignorance, other times from rebellion. Thank you for your grace. Empower me by your Spirit to be willing to step from my comfort zone when you call me to reach out to those I find to be ‘poor choices’ for the Kingdom. Amen.

 

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