As a political and news junkie, I am much familiar with the commentary in print and TV of Kirsten Powers. She does not come from anywhere near my point of view on the spectrum of issues, though lately I have found myself surprised several times by a different tone and perspective. It really has caught my attention and had me going “hmm… not what I would have expected her to say on that one.”
On this very day that I am writing this devotional article from today’s reading about the incredible conversion of Saul – known to us later as the Apostle Paul – literally, immediately before sitting down to write about this passage, I stumbled upon an article that gave the story of Kirsten Powers trusting in Christ. The full article about how this confirmed atheist was chased down by God and recently came to faith may be found by clicking HERE. Let me share a couple of the quotes:
“I was not looking to be a Christian. The last thing in the world I wanted to be was a Christian. … When I went away to college, whatever little faith I had, I lost. … All my friends were secular liberals. At this point, I really got even more deeply into an incredibly secular world because now, all my friends were basically atheists, or if they had any kind of spirituality, they were very hostile towards religion, Christianity in particular. So, I really didn’t have any interest in it.”
Through a friend who drew her to attend Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC where Tim Keller is pastor, she began to hear new truths and consider new ideas.
“Really, it was like God sort of invaded my life. It was very unwelcome. I didn’t like it. … It’s kind of hard to describe, but I did have this moment where the scales just fell off of my eyes, where I was saying, ‘this is just totally true, I don’t even have any doubt.’ … If I could have avoided it, I would have. There is nothing convenient about it in my life or in the world I live in. It’s not like living in the South where everybody is a Christian. I live in a world where nobody is a believer. But God pursued me.”
God pursued her. God pursued Saul. God pursued you! As I shared in the devotional writings in the previous sermon series called “Cross Words,” it might seem like we found God … as we talk about salvation in that way. But the reality is that God found us. We see, only because we are able to see because God has removed the “scales” from our eyes. It is all a work of grace. God is in the human reclamation business.
The other part of this story in Acts 9 that I so much like is that of this fellow named Ananias. He is given just about the worst assignment imaginable. Saul had become famous for his antagonism and harsh treatment of Christians. And God calls up Ananias and says that Saul of Tarsus would be ringing his doorbell. How would you feel if you found out that you were going to be visited by North Korean President Kim Jong-un? (I guess you could throw some NBA games on TV and he’d be happy, but you get the picture!)
God does not always give us easy assignments. But there is no safer place than in the center of God’s direction in your life through obedience to Him. God has a plan for all of us.
Saul’s Conversion — Acts 9:1-19a
9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 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. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.