The sun shown down on a group of travelers going north on a road in the arid Middle East. Saul was the leader of the group and he had special power given to him from the elders in Jerusalem to have anyone in Damascus that believed in Christ thrown in prison.
Saul was proud of the work he had already done. He was responsible for many people being thrown into prison and some were even put to death. He was good at getting them to blaspheme and break the Jewish law. And, as a Pharisee, exact observance of the law was of great importance to him. He would not stand idle while others were breaking the sacred law.
The travelers paused only briefly to drink and eat a few dried dates and figs before continuing their journey of more than 130 miles. Saul reflected on one of his greatest victories. He was instrumental in getting one follower of Christ stoned to death. His name was Steven. Saul had held the clothes of the people that threw the stones and had offered his testimony against that man. It wasn’t pleasure at seeing someone die that he felt. It was a sense of fulfilling his duty to the law.
Saul was frustrated that these “Christians” were having so much success in converting people to their faith. Hundreds of years of traditions and law, were being destroyed by this Christ and his disciples. He was going to help set things right.
As the sun rose to its zenith, Saul noticed that a new light, even brighter than the sun, was shining on him and the other travelers. They all fell to the earth in fear, but only Saul heard the voice.
“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” asked the heavenly voice out of the light.
Scared, he lay on the ground looking into the light. Finally he dared to ask, “Who art thou?”
“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest,” the Savior replied. “It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
Could it be true that this Christ, whom he had seen die, was really risen in glory? Saul’s convictions were shaken in an instant of light and truth.
Trembling and in humility, Saul asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
“Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do,” Christ said, and then the light went away.
When the travelers knew the danger had passed, they got up from the ground. But when Saul tried to open his eyes, he realized he was blind. His fellow travelers led him to Damascus, where Saul hoped to receive a clearer purpose for his life.
For three days, Saul was without sight. He neither drank nor ate, but continually prayed for that instruction he desired.
Finally, in answer to his prayers, Ananias came to him.
Ananias was one of the disciples of Christ and had been told by God to go to Saul and bless him. Ananias did bless Saul and he received his sight. After which, Ananias told Saul, “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.”
There it was.
The true vision Saul had sought. He was glad to have his physical sight, but more importantly, he knew what he was to do. He was to tell the world what he had seen and heard. He was to be a witness that Christ lives.
With that vision Saul went on to become a great missionary. Through his preaching, writings and service, he helped millions of people during his life and beyond to believe in Christ.
Whether you believe in what Saul, or later called to as Paul, taught or not, you can probably relate to his course correction. Many people go through life and eventually reflect on what they are doing and decide to change directions because they aren’t as happy as they want to be or they don’t feel the fulfillment they desire.
You don’t have to wait for a shining pillar of light or a voice from heaven to change course. But having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish is really important. Then when you have it, you should act on it.
Personally, I do think that prayer is important for understanding what one should do and what path one needs to take. If you don’t feel the same way, then think long and hard about what makes you happy and what needs you can fulfill around you. Then make that your guiding star.
Saul was making a name for himself before his course correction. He rose to a higher level of greatness when he made serving others and serving God his goal. Good is sure to come when we stop kicking against the pricks and follow our heart for a goal that will help others.
*Quotations and research for this post come from the King James Version of the Bible, Acts 9, 22, and 26