Weekly Reading for 5/14/11
On The Mount…
Jerimiah 32; 6 -27;
The Apostle Paul was raised a religious man. He didn’t have to wonder about what was right or wrong. He already knew. He came from a long line of people who knew how to stay within the rules; but that was Paul’s problem. He became a traditionalist who couldn’t perceive that the move of God was shifting in a new direction. And who could blame him. God was doing something entirely new and no one was prepared to receive it.
The Split In The Road
So there you are doing what you do best, working at living. Nothing extraordinary has happened lately; in fact, it has been business as usual, except for one thing. Some lunatics are talking about doing something different than what you’ve been doing your whole life. You don’t even bother listening because you know that it is crazy. You begin to speak against what they are doing because it goes against your belief system and you don’t want anyone contaminating your cultural traditions. Except one thing, God interrupts you. Have you ever been interrupted by God?
The Apostle Paul was not looking for Jesus. He wasn’t part of the initial recruiting strategy that Jesus employed while he was on earth. We don’t even know where Paul was or what he was doing. He was probably performing “business as usual” and didn’t even know too much about Jesus until after his death. Paul was on his way in one direction, but the Lord had another instruction in mind.
So Paul is traveling down the road, on his way to Damascus, when something happens. A ray of light blinds him. I like the way that God toys with our brains and makes us work for it. Think about this. Paul is blinded by “a ray of light”. We now commonly refer to that as a “big” or “great” idea. It is when something that was probably always there becomes so obvious to us that we exclaim with great emotion: Why didn’t I see that before? However, this ray of light was slightly different. It talked, it commanded, and it left a lasting affect that could only be altered by changing directions. Sometimes that happens and when it does, we are blessed.
Jesus stood before Paul and told him that the way that he was going was completely wrong. Paul had a choice. If he continued to go in the direction he was heading, he was going to be blind for life. But if he surrendered to the light, he would have to turn around and realize that he had made some mistakes along the way. All he had to do was to trust the “idea” that was blocking his way. If he trusted the “idea”, he would be blessed as soon as he turned around.
When God stands in our way, we are blessed. But he won’t stand in our way forever. He stays there just long enough for you to understand that you’ve come to a point where a decision MUST be made. But then, he moves. When God moves out of your way, there is trouble around the bend. You don’t ever want God to move out of your way. Instead, you want to move IN his way; even if that means turning around.
Think about it. Paul and Jesus came face to face. Jesus was going one way, and Paul was going another. If Paul continued going the way that he was heading, from that point on, and every day in between, he was moving further and further apart from the truth. Jesus was heading in the right direction.
But sometimes our pride causes us to be incapable of seeing where we are at fault. We simply can not get passed the idea that perhaps we were wrong, or somewhere along the route, we missed something.
In those instances, the kindest thing that Jesus can do for us is to make us blind. Paul couldn’t go any further. He wasn’t going to be useful in Damascus. What would he do with impaired vision? Nothing. Now his most pressing priority was to regain his sight. Ironically, that meant stopping his present objective, turning around, and retracing his steps, with the assistance of others.
The blindness of Paul seemed tragic, but it wasn’t. It was mercy. God understood that it was a mistake. There were reasons why Paul didn’t understand what God was doing. There were reasons why Paul completely missed the move of God; and God had compassion.
However, compassion alone wasn’t going to get Paul where he needed to be. God saw Paul as a bishop. He wasn’t going to get there without the help of others. Now he had to stop, think, and really recognize what was happening to him. God had changed the strategy and he needed to be part of it, or be left behind.