Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. – Acts 9:15
10 Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied.
11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now.
12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”
13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem!”
14 “And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.”
16 “And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Adults go through various stages of life. When they are young their whole life awaits them, and they tend to think they will live forever. As they mature and grow older, they begin to think in terms of how much time they have left, and what they want to do with the remaining years they have.
For children of the King there is another factor, the Father’s call and purpose for our lives. Each of us was individually called and selected by the Father. Many believers of our generation entered the kingdom of God hearing that God loved them and had a wonderful plan for their life. That is still true.
For children of the King, “retirement” is not part of the Father’s eternal plan for them. Each of us should be asking, “Father how would You have me invest the final years of my life on this planet?”
In Acts 13, Luke recalls two brief cameos of two of the Father’s servants: Ananias and Paul. Ananias was a Jewish believer, one of the early Jews for Jesus in the first century Church. He was a willing disciple and only wanted to please his Father in heaven. He made himself available to do the Father’s will. He was willing to go and do whatever the Father had in mind.
But what the Father had in mind appeared on the surface to be dangerous, life-threatening, and seemingly absurd. Why? The Father tasked Ananias to go speak with the Saul of Tarsus. Saul had a horrific reputation.
In Paul’s own words he categorically stated, “I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people (1 Timothy 1:13). Luke records what he did.
Acts 8:3 Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
Ananias was very reluctant to do so as the Father requested. He was afraid and he was reluctant to obey. Why? Paul was one of the leaders of the Jewish Inquisition. Paul came to Damascus to seek out and imprison Jewish believers, of which Ananias was one. His immediate goal was to avoid Paul at all costs. But the Father had something else in mind.
In 10 The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying to me right now.
Ananias might have thought, this is not a vision, this is a nightmare. Paul had a terrible reputation and Ananias reminded the Father that this was so.
13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;”
14 “and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”
But something utterly marvelous happened to Paul of which Ananias was totally unaware. He had been miraculously confronted by the risen Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul repented and believed. And then he was struck blind and had to be physically guided by hand to Damascus.
The Father often works in the background preparing the stage for what comes next. It is sufficient to say that the Father had laid the groundwork for what was going to happen. Ananias knew none of this and had not yet read Acts 13. In fearful obedience (an interesting term play on words), Ananias submitted and went. What do you suppose would have happened had Ananias refused? The Father would’ve found somebody else and Ananias would have completely lost out on the benefit of the opportunity that the Father had presented him. This might have changed the course of Ananias’s life for the worst.
REFLECT & PRAY
Fear is a dreadful emotion. Because of fear we often avoid and resist the will of the Father. So it was with Ananias.
Father encourage me to submit in fearful obedience to your will and call for my life.
Imagine what it was like for Paul. As Saul of Tarsus he was totally committed to defending what he thought was God’s truth. He would take on all comers.
He harshly confronted those that he considered to be heretics, he was all in. He was focused and he was ruthless.
He had no clue that his understanding of the Lord Jesus was entirely incorrect. He was not serving the Father God at all; he was actually working against Him. Paul had no idea. Out of nowhere, suddenly Paul has a face-to-face, close encounter of third kind with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. His entire belief system was challenged at its foundation and collapsed. Paul was left speechless and temporarily blind.
The first words he hears from Ananias are heartwarming, comforting, and assuring: “Brother Saul.”
17 Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.
Each of us has been selected and called. “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure” (Eric Liddell).
Isaiah 43:1 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
Without a doubt, Ananias is one of the forgotten heroes of the early church When the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to him in a vision, it must have sounded insane to him. He might well have approached Paul with suspicion, as one doing an unpleasant task; he might well have begun with recriminations; but no, his ﬁrst words were: “Brother Saul.”
What a welcome! It is one of the most sublime examples of brotherly love. That is what the Father can produce.
The British evangelist Bryan Green tells that, after one of his campaigns in America in the 1960s, he asked at the last meeting that people should stand up and, in a few words, say just what the campaign had done for them.
A girl stood up. She was not a good speaker; she could only put a few sentences together. And this is what she said: “Through this campaign I have found Christ and he made me able to forgive the man who murdered my father.” He made her able to forgive – that is the very essence of Christianity. In Christ, Paul and Ananias, who had been the bitterest enemies, came together as brothers (Barclay).