Devotional Word for Monday, June 29, 2020
The Bible is an amazingly specific book. It tells details we didn’t know we needed to know – some, that we still don’t know why we need to know. What can you remember about Paul’s Damascus Road experience? He gets knocked off his horse, has an interview, as it were, with Jesus, is blinded, and then is led by the hand into Damascus where he regains his sight and then becomes the man who writes 13, maybe 14, books of the NT. Let’s look at Paul’s experience through the eyes of Ananias, a Jew who lived in Damascus.
Acts 9:9 tells us that Paul was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. What do you suppose Paul was doing during those three days? We can speculate, but we don’t know anything he did except that he prayed. We know he prayed because of what the Lord told Ananias. Here’s Acts 9:10-11. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.”
That passage is filled with specificities: we learn Ananias was a disciple; he was ready to be used by the Lord, “Here I am, Lord”; we learn a guy named Judas lives on a street called Straight. These details affirm for us this is real history. I have a rock from Damascus from Straight Street brought to me by my friend Father Noah of St. Philip Orthodox Church. The Judas mentioned here we never here of again. But he is noted in the Bible. That’s a good sign. Finally, we do learn that Paul is praying during those three days.
We can imagine what Paul was praying about, but we can know specifically one thing about which he is praying. Verse 12 goes on to say and he [Paul] has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight. Though Paul is blind he can see visions! And he has an extremely specific vision. It includes a specific man. Someone name Ananias. We can say with assurance Paul’s vision was from God.
You know, of course, Paul was going to Damascus to arrest Christian disciples and take them back to Jerusalem for prosecution. Apparently, Paul’s reputation and his mission were known to the wider community. On the third of those three days when Paul is not eating or drinking, but is praying, it’s on that specific day the Lord gives Ananias the vision. Ananias is not sure the Lord knows what He is telling him to do! [Can any of us identify with that!] Ananias says, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name. [vss. 13-14] That would include Ananias! Hence, he is not wanting to Get Up and Go to the Street Called Straight! But Paul, with great specificity, has seen a guy named Ananias.
Verses 15 and 16 tell us what the Lord told Ananias: Go, for he is a chosen [specificity!] instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake. You’ll never guess what happened next: Ananias departed and entered the house. Isn’t that good to hear? He believed and obeyed the Lord. It was not a simple matter to get up and go to that house on Straight Street. It required an active faith, intent on following the Lord’s instructions.
Here’s what he told Paul. Listen to how he addresses him and what he tells him to do: Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. [v. 17] We learn a bit more of the specifics Ananias said when Paul recounts this story before the hostile crowd in Jerusalem at the time of his arrest. It’s found in Acts 22:13-16. Paul remembers Ananias saying:
Brother Saul, receive your sight! . . . The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name. That’s a bold, faith-filled, obedient proclamation to a fellow who came to your city to arrest folk just like you! And so, as is true with all biblical pronouncements, it came to pass. Paul’s witness of the Righteous One is still going forth to all men.
We hear no more at all about faithful, hesitant, bold Ananias in the Bible. That’s it. But he serves as a model for us. We need to be prepared to say, “Here I am, Lord” each day. And then go about the business of the day. I don’t imagine any of us will have a day quite as significant in the life of the people of God as Ananias had that day. However, we can be certain God has the specifics of each of our days just as firmly in His hand as He had that day for Ananias. As we seek to do His will, He will see to it that we do do His will. God, our God, is a God of specificity. Let’s trust Him. Let’s trust Him with the details. Let’s get up and go about the specifics of this day, for this is a day the Lord has made.
Let’s pray: O Lord God Almighty, Creator and Ruler of the universe, we praise Your name this day. As is true of each day, this is the day You have made. We purpose to rejoice and be glad in it. We don’t know what this day holds, but we know You do. We trust You to give us grace to live faithfully and obediently this day. Thank You for calling us to be Your servants. We ask this in the name of the Righteous One, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.