Saul to Paul
"And he (Saul) trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do." Acts 9:6
I am amazed at the life of the Apostle Paul (formerly known as Saul) and what God did in and through his life. His transformation was spectacular, but in all seriousness, our transformation is just as special. Before he became known as Paul, Saul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and thought he was doing the will of God. He was feared by the church, and those who saw Saul coming knew it meant bad things for Christians as he sought to imprison and persecute them. He was present at the stoning of Stephen, and it seems he encouraged the mob in it. At the time of Saul’s transformation, he was on his way to persecute Christians and round them up as he had done many times before. Saul had his own agenda, and he was on his own path when God got a hold of his life.
Proverbs 22:15 tells us of our natural bent towards sin, "Foolishness is bound (bound up) in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." I am not sure where my rebellion and foolishness started, but as far back as I can remember, I always sought to go my own way. I sought every angle to disobey, and I looked for ways to be mischievous. I was raised in a loving, God-fearing home, but I still sought to go my own way. I would sometimes ditch Sunday School by hiding and then just hanging out around the church. I was never quite successful in these endeavors, and the paddle wore out my backside like a broken-in saddle.
My parents took me to church every time the doors were open, and this extended to the Christian school. I did not think much of it as little tyke, but the older I got, the more I grew a disdain for the school and church. I felt as though people were always getting on my case, and I just wanted to be free from all the scrutiny and judgement. I grew tired of the chapel messages and the memory verses I was forced to learn, and was more interested in reading Sports Illustrated than I was my Bible. I would rather watch television than be in church, and I did not take advantage of all the opportunities God gave me. I did not realize how hearing and memorizing the Word of God would impact my life in later years.
I am not sure if any of my teachers, youth workers, or anybody that knew me would ever think I would be used of God, but God used all the things I had learned in church and school to change my life. I would not say I was Saul, but I definitely was not headed down the right path. I think back to key moments in my life when I dedicated my life to God even though I seemed to forget those after just a few months passed. God never forgets, and He remembered every promise I made to Him. He never let me get too far as He chastened me to bring me back to Himself. He did not see rebellious Saso, but He saw a man who would be used to do His work. He saw what He could do in my life, just as He did not see persecutor Saul, but instead saw Paul who would turn the world upside down for His divine mission.
Philippians 1:6 records this promise, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" I think back to the sermons, chapel messages, and the Bible verses I learned, and realize this was God doing His good work in me. God did not give up on me in my rebellious days, but He was calling me back to myself. He was performing His good work in me, and He patiently and persistently changed my heart from what I wanted to do to what He wanted me to do.
How about you friend? Have you come to know Him as your Lord and Savior, or are you still running from Him? Are you still pursuing your own way, or do you ask the Lord what He wants you to do? Do you desire to do His will, or do you desire to fulfill the lusts of your flesh? I praise God for the change He can do in the life of one who is surrendered to Him, and I praise Him for the change He has made in my life.
Stay in the fight!