Seasons pass by quickly and as summer fades to fall we may be faced with new challenges and daily tasks. Some may have children going to new grade levels, entering school for the first time, or are choosing to homeschool. Others are starting new jobs, entering the workforce, or retiring. Some may be in a period of intense grief or incredible difficulty as fall approaches, and others may be in a period of rest and recovery. When we are in periods of change, challenge, or strife it is certainly easy to feel earthly despair. Alternatively, in times of prosperity we may feel encouraged to attempt self-reliance or feel validated in our own earthly ability to “handle” life. As surely as the seasons change, our emotions and circumstances do as well. In all physical and emotional seasons, we must be able to say, “It is well with my soul.” As J.I. Packer notes, “To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.”
As with all our days serving Christ Jesus on earth, we must spend time putting our emotions in their place, as well as starting our days with reliance on God’s Word and prayer. Apassage that has encouraged and challenged me lately comes from Luke in the book of Acts. Saul (who would later becomeknown as St. Paul the Apostle) was actively arresting and persecuting Christ followers. We see Saul travel the road to Damascus on a mission to arrest followers of Jesus, and on his way was struck blind by the ascended Jesus. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:3-6).
Back in Damascus we see the Lord appear to a disciple named Ananias in a vision (vs. 10) where the Lord said, “Go to the house of Judas…and ask for a man named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight” (Acts 9:11). Ananias said, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” Understandably, Ananias was afraid. He did not want to face Saul, a ruthless persecutor of the followers of Jesus.
“But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kinds and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:15-16). So, Ananias entered the house and placed his hands on Saul, telling him that he was sent by the Lord Jesus. Saul’s eyesight returned (“something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes” (vs. 18), and he got up and was baptized. A few days later he began preaching in the synagogues about Jesus (vs. 20), and the people were astonished. Verse 22 tells us that Saul became more powerful and “baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.”
Saul, also called Paul, has at least 13 of the New Testament books attributed to him. Romans 1:1-2 speaks to his conversion, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God- the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” He visited over 50 cities, preached the gospel to Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar (Acts 9:15 and Philippians 4:22), and endured five years in prison. Among his letters were to the churches at Galatia, Thessalonica, Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, and Colossae.
We see God-given faith in Ananias, who surely was terrified to approach Saul. God used Ananias as part of Saul’s testimony. We also see God-given faith in Saul, who had by all accounts an incredibly unbelievable transformation. He would not have recognized his need to follow Jesus if it were not for a holy intervention. God used Saul for several decades after to preach the gospel to countless peoples, and Saul ultimately had a greater impact on the future of Christianity than anyone besides Jesus. All because God, in His ultimate wisdom and mercy, chose to use Saul for His glory and redeemed him from his slavery to sin.
What an account of God’s goodness, grace, and absolute sovereignty! Saul was a hopeless human, as we all are without Christ. His life was irrevocably changed forever by God. If you are a Christ-follower, YOUR life has been irrevocably changed forever by God. In this world that encourages self-love and self-reliance, it is important for us to rely only on God and His provision as we enter new seasons and stages of life. Colossians 3:2 reminds us to, “Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.” We can rest assured that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit will prepare us for everything we encounter. There is absolutely no good work that God calls you to that the Bible will not prepare you for. We were saved for His glory (Galatians 1:3-5), and therefore we must serve Him for all our days. If you haven’t opened the Word today, get in it. We must have the insight the Word provides to live our days for Him.
Lord, we come to you today asking for wisdom as we read your Word. Give us the zeal for your Word to sustain us through all the seasons. You are the ultimate creator and sustainer of all, and we trust that you will guide and lead us to your plans for our lives as we seek to glorify you. We give thanks for the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, for your Holy and complete Word, and for the life we have today. We pray for guidance and wisdom as we seek daily to know You and honor You. We trust that you will provide, and it is in your name we pray. Amen.