St. Paul’s Conversion: A Lesson for Us in Surrender and Trust.
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
On the Feast of St. Paul’s Conversion, I read Acts 9:1-22 and both reflected on this and prayed. I asked God, “Why was St. Paul blessed to hear your voice audibly? Why is it that we can’t?” “Oh Lord, how I long to see your face and hear your voice. It would be so much easier for all of us to audibly hear you, and know what your will is for us, rather than us discerning through prayer and acting on faith, without real solid proof or knowing for sure what your will is.”
I continued to reflect on this reading and realized that there were many reasons for God to speak audibly to St. Paul and to take away his sight. First, Saul needed something concrete, to stop him in his tracks and get his attention. After all, he was killing the Christians and probably had strong emotions about this, thinking he was justified in doing what he was doing. He was blind to the truth. So, God in His perfection, stopped him and opened his spiritual eyes, by blinding his physical ones, and allowing Saul to hear His voice as He asked, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?”
The Lord gave both a man named Ananias and Saul a shared vision so-to-speak, in which Ananias would lay his hands on him and that the Lord would restore Saul’s sight. Ananias questioned God and probably didn’t want to do this because Saul was known for his persecution to the Christians. And like Ananias, the Christians around him knew about Saul as well. This miracle of Saul having his sight restored, may have symbolically affirmed that he was blinded from the truth during his persecution of the Christians. God was giving the Christians of that day, the opportunity to do as Christ had done in forgiving those that persecuted him. As we all know, Jesus on the cross asked the heavenly Father to forgive them for they did not know what they were doing. The Christians of that day now had the opportunity to do this in a huge way and further trust God by allowing an “enemy” into their community. This was a huge risk; I imagine many thought Saul was insincere and acting as a spy.
So much happened out of this act. Ananias disagreed with God at first, but then obeyed God and not only found Saul and prayed over him but also called him, “brother”. Ananias out of obedience was modeling to the early Christian community that Saul was forgiven by God and by Ananias. This act called for the rest of the Christians to do the same and not only trust God but forgive this man as Christ forgave his persecutors.
The community needed this miracle, Saul needed this miracle and we as the modern Christians of today needed this miracle. Saul, whose name was changed to Paul had one of the most powerful conversions and was used by God to bring many more conversions during his day as well as today, by his writings in the new testament of the bible.
St. Paul is an example of God’s perfect love and forgiveness. His conversion demanded trust in God from the early Christians and we, as modern Christians need to trust in Him as well. At the beginning I addressed my question to God; “Why Saul and why can’t you speak to us?” In thinking about it, He didn’t speak audibly to the early Christian community. They needed to act in Faith and trust. I have written about trust in several blog articles (here and here.) It is something that we as humans struggle with, especially when we must go by faith and not have the luxury of hearing God speak to us audibly or see him as he sits down and put’s his arm around us when we are grieving and need comfort. Just because we can’t hear him or feel his loving arms around us does not mean that he isn’t there, holding us and speaking to us. Sometimes, when I am quiet and listen, I can hear God speak oh so quietly in my heart. Or, maybe I hear him speak to my heart through scripture. Sometimes, I can feel his hug in the authentic hug of a loved one. Trust is essential to our Christian faith. But each time we surrender our whole beings to Christ, and each time we surrender our worry at the foot of the cross, we grow stronger and are more open to doing His will and allow Him to work through us.
May God bless you and give you the trust, peace, and faith that you need to let go of what is getting in your way and to put it down at the foot of His cross.