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Damascus Road

Acts 9:10  Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." 11  The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12  and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." 13  But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14  and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name." 15  But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16  I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." 17  So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18  And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19  and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20  and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."

Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of Pharisees,[1] was zealously protecting the faith against the new Jesus-heresy. On his way to Damascus he is deeply moved by a vision he has of God. This leaves him blinded and weak, and he is recovering at the house of Judas. At the same time Ananias, a Jesus-follower has his own ‘Damascus road encounter’ and finds his world turned inside out: he is asked to “go to the street called Straight” to meet his persecutor.  And so the choice lies before him: go in obedience and risk arrest – or stay at home and remain safe.

This is often the way it is when God meets us: we can choose to stay as we are, or we can choose to allow God to change the direction of our lives. The former is safe and predictable; the latter is risky and the outcome is unknown. But every time we choose to allow God into our life, we discover that this open up space for God to do more than we ever could anticipate. Today begins our journey of Lent: how about stepping outside of the safe and predictable and praying for God to resurrect a new Easter experience in our lives?

The First Sunday in Lent

Preparation  for Ministry

The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 106.

This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.   

[1] Acts 23:6

“To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936)