Paul is a testament to God’s ability to use anyone for His glory.
It’s almost as if God decided to illustrate the most extreme redemption story possible through Saul’s conversion. He didn’t just choose a mass murderer for His purposes, he chose one who was widely known and respected for seeking out Christians to be killed.
When Jesus spoke directly to Saul from heaven as he was traveling to Damascus, He also spoke to one of His disciples in a dream named Ananias. He instructed the man to seek out Saul and help him on his journey to becoming an advocate for Christ. But Ananias responded, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.”
To Ananias, the concept that God would want to use Saul of all people must have seemed crazy. So much so, that he decides he’s going to set God straight on the matter. He’s like “Woah, Jesus, maybe you’re a little disconnected from what’s going on down here, but this guy’s entire job is to sign off on my death solely based on my identity as a Christian. Could you be referring to another, less threatening Saul that I don’t know about yet?”
But when God has a plan, even the unthinkable is possible. Thus the Lord responded, “Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”
Wow. This must have been a real shocker, and I’m glad that the Bible does not spare us the awkwardness of what ensues. Saul was a spectacle to behold and his preaching raised a few red flags. People exclaimed, “Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?” Even the other disciples doubted him, and I find it hard to blame them. The Bible says, “But they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.”
I think we sort of assume some things are just the way they are, and it would be impossible to change them. Perhaps it’s a relationship with a family member, or the stubbornness of a friend to see Christ, or your own sinful habits that seem impossible to break. Friends, God can do the unthinkable in you and those around you. I recently read Lara Casey’s book, “Make it Happen,” in which she urges the reader to pray for the impossible. This struck me and completely revolutionized the way I approached prayer.
If anyone had to pen the words, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” I’m glad it was Paul. His life points us to this truth and illustrates that God can do the impossible in those who let Him.
If you aren’t using the power of God to transform your heart and life, then what exactly are you waiting for? Through Paul’s transformation God makes it abundantly clear that it doesn’t matter where you are in life. God can change you. God can work through you. The thing is, God isn’t going to speak directly to us these days as he did with Saul. He doesn’t need to because we have His Words in written form. All you have to do is start a dialogue involving an honest heart and His Word to discover the renewal and hope Christ has waiting for you.