THE BEST-LAID PLANS
Lord, You are in charge of my life.
Read ACTS 9:1–9
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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What’s on your calendar for today? Open it up and let God take a look at your plans. How open are you to last-minute change?
Saul has an agenda. As a radical, ultra-conservative Pharisee (Phil 3:5,6),1 he is horrified at the growth of this new, Jesus-centerd sect within Judaism. His mission is to destroy the church in its infancy. He approves the stoning to death of Stephen (8:1) and imprisons believers in Jerusalem (8:3). Setting his sights further afield, he now asks for letters of authority to continue this policy in Damascus, a week’s journey away. He’s clear about what he wants to do, but Saul’s agenda is about to collide with God’s!
Saul’s conversion story is so fundamental to him that not only is it narrated three times in Acts, but it’s also recounted in four of his letters (1 Cor 9:1; 15:8; Gal 1:11–16; Phil 3:4–11). It’s the key turning point in his life, an encounter with the risen Lord Jesus that is as real as the flesh-and-blood meetings between Jesus and his disciples. It was dramatic, personal and physical, a total shock to his intellectual and religious experience. For Saul, it was life-changing. There is a new agenda to be unfolded.
You and I may not have such a powerful story to tell, but nevertheless we can speak about how Jesus has changed the direction in which we were travelling. We may have a crisis moment, like Saul’s, to relate. We may speak of choices, decisions, to take one road rather than another. There may have been a process, a questioning of values over a period of time. We may simply acknowledge a quiet whisper of encouragement towards an as yet unknown destination. What actually matters is that we have a story to tell of our encounter with Jesus and that we are ready to tell it.
Imagine you are devising a musical of your life. What three songs or pieces of music help you tell the story of a life lived with and planned with Jesus?
Lord, we Your people are amazed at how You can so suddenly change the landscape in our life.