Well friends I hope you are growing in your ability to listen and hear Jesus speaking to you personally and that it is giving you a greater intimacy with Him. Today I had been imagining all the different characteristics of God and then I head Him.
“Yes Ian, I am all those things that you were imagining – totally omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, holy and pure and totally love – yes, in the great and grand scheme of things you may feel completely insignificant by comparison – yet, in My plan and My grace, I determined you and your role from before time – I brought you into the world in a family with a history – and I planned your whole journey to the fulfilment of My purpose. As you look and see the mire and the mud of a broken and rebellious world around you, there is a flower rising, a most beautiful flower, with all the colours of the rainbow which I created, it is rising and growing up and up, larger and larger and more beautiful – rising to the highest heavens – that is My bride and you are part of that multitude whom I am rescuing from the mire and awfulness of sin and rebellion in this broken world, which appears to be disintegrating because of my judgement curse – but remember and remember this clearly, this is My creation and I love it dearly – I love it and everyone in it and I am rescuing a remnant, all those who have chosen to follow Me – I have given each one of you a free will – yet I am still in control – you cannot understand it, yet it is true – so rejoice and be glad – enjoy Me, enjoy your role and keep looking up at Me not down at the mire around you”.
My reading today is Acts 9:1-19, the oh so well-known story of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Known so well that even in the lay mouth, having a Damascus experience describes an experience of discovery, revelation and following a new course. This conversion seems so totally from God, that I and I am sure many others have so wished God would give it to a recalcitrant and rebellious loved one. While the story leaves no doubt that it is totally from God, one should remember that Saul had actually been prepared for this. He must have heard numerous testimonies from the Christians whom he was persecuting and deep down in his mind there must have been a stirring. Late at night questions. Could this message actually be true? Nah! But are you sure?
The other thing that strikes me on reading this today, is what Jesus said to him in in vs 16. What would you choose to say to someone whom you wish to call to a much higher and more noble task? What would you say? “I will show you how much you must suffer”? Is that the best way to get someone motivated? But Jesus has other plans and they seem to involve the very choice of this most famous ambassador of Christianity. Remember the words to the woman caught in sin, from Jesus “he who is forgiven much, loves much”. And Saul, after he became Paul was so aware of the awfulness of his deeds and the great well of forgiveness that was poured over him (1 Tim 1:16), it was probably the great motivating factor for his life of service to his beloved Jesus.
So surely God chose this man and formed him for this specific task, preparing him for the great teaching task, as he was destined to lay down a large part of the New Testament, by raising him up in a tradition where he was steeped in the Old Testament scriptures. Furthermore using his fiery determination for God, as he saw it was necessary, to prepare him for this huge release from the guilt of what he had done. These factors all worked together to make this man one of the greatest figures in scripture.
And the promise of persecution? Clearly this was the first step in preparing him for what was to come during his years of ministry.
Listening to Jesus I am reminded again of God’s complete souvereignty and vast plan covering the aeons working towards the “telos” or completion which He has planned and is planning, just as He spoke to me earlier. And yes God is the One who saves, He is the One who gives life to the dead, but and this is so important, He nevertheless wants our desire and us to choose. How this works I don’t know, but it tells me to keep praying for my lost loved ones and then continue being a witness to His love and so putting my trust in Him completely for the outcome. Will someone have another Damascus experience? No two people are alike, and God has a unique plan for each one. No one size fits all.
What a God we serve, hallelujah, I cast myself before Him!