I was reading this morning about when Saul (the guy who liked pulling Christians out of their homes and carting them off to jail) comes face to face with Jesus on the road (Acts 9). He’s headed to do more damage and is very determined to stamp out this crazy faction of Jesus followers. The Christians would have been terrified to see him coming.
So, as he’s going along, he gets blinded by a light and a voice from heaven speaks out to him, telling him he needs to quit hurting these people. He finally meets Jesus, and has to come to terms with the reality of what he heard on the road and his behavior for the last little while in kidnapping people. Saul thought he was doing the right thing, and that he was making God happy. And now he’s blind and being led to the city with his pride and ambitions in shambles around him.
And this is my favorite part—this guy named Ananias is one of those Jesus followers in the town toward which Saul was headed to do his damage. God tells Ananias to go to Saul at this certain house and pray for him. I can’t even wrap my head around how that must have felt.
Basically, God told Ananias to go find his worst enemy, the man who wanted nothing more than to hunt him and throw him in jail, and present himself as a Christian. I would have definitely thought I had misunderstood God at that point. Even though Ananias heard a voice telling him to do this, I’m sure it was tempting to try to believe it was some bad food he had eaten or something he made up in his head. But this was too crazy. It was impossible.
God was asking Ananias to walk into the one place he would never have gone and talk to the one guy that he wanted to hide from desperately. The one comfort I think I would have had as Ananias is that God tells him that he’ll show Saul how much he will suffer for His name’s sake. So, he’s probably thinking—well, at least Saul is supposed to suffer. That guy has been terrible to Christians, and now God wants Ananias to go pray for him and expose himself to possible imprisonment.
So, he goes. And he calls him “Brother Saul.” He prays for Saul, and Saul can see again and receives the Holy Spirit and is baptized. In typical Saul fashion, he headed out to blow the doors off the town and preach Jesus. I don’t think Saul/Paul ever did anything halfway.
But Ananias has to walk into his fear, not because he is particularly strong, but because he believes what God has said. He is not enough to do this impossible thing that God has asked him to do, but he believes that the Life within him might be. So, he puts one foot in front of the other to go find this persecutor of the church.
You see, there are a lot of times that God asks me to do something that terrifies me, or that I just frankly don’t want to do. I confuse the faith to believe God at His word with the strength to get the thing done.
I don’t have the strength or the wisdom or any of the things I need to go do the impossible thing, but He does. So, my part is the choice. I must say ok, and start walking. And as I’m walking, I tell God how little I have, how scared I am, how ridiculous it is that He wants me to do this thing. We aren’t super Christians, people, but we just walk in faith.
Faith means I believe God at His word. And sometimes that’s confusing. Did He really say that? Did I make it up in my head? Did I have too much coffee and that was the result?
I think that’s where we start with the small obvious things that He’s called us to do in His Word. He says to love your enemies—that’s impossible without His Life and I sure stomp my feet about doing it. But that’s His direction, and He will provide all you need to do the impossible task. So, you walk forward, asking Him the whole way to be everything for that situation because He claims He is going to meet all my needs. Well, I have a really big need when I’m loving an enemy—basically, I have no love for them! So, He must provide the love. I make the choice to follow Him in what He has asked me to do, and start walking. He brings the love. And when I encounter the enemy, a supernatural thing happens and He fills in all the gaps in my love or strength or patience or whatever else I need.
He won’t choose for me—I have to do that. But His Life provides all the rest. This is how we can do the impossible thing He has called us to do. It isn’t because we are super spiritual Christians who have really got this thing figured out and try really hard. It’s because we are incredibly weak Christians who haven’t a clue how to proceed, so we look to Jesus and His Spirit within for all that we need.
This is where the rubber meets the road on this Christian life. And if you don’t buy it, try looking to Him when you don’t have enough for the situation (which in my case is all day, every day). When He is enough for that moment and the next and the next, we start to realize that relying on Him to be all that we need is the way to live.
What impossible thing has He called you to today? Will you look to Him to be all that you need for that situation, and just start walking?