Tag Archives: Acts 9

Outside of the Lines

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
Acts 9:10 (NIV)

I’ve always had a bit of a rebellious streak in me. Working inside of large institutions typically brings it out though I don’t have a lot of examples to share because I’ve never been able to work well inside of large institutions. I’m allergic to bureaucracy. I believe God made me to work best from the outside in.

I was a few months shy of my 15th birthday when God first called me. “You will proclaim my word,” was the simple message I received. I was just naive enough, and just maverick enough not to ask questions about how. I just figured I was meant to start immediately. I delivered my first message just two months later, and within a year I was part of a team of young people traveling the state each week and speaking about Jesus wherever I was given opportunity.

As I read through the book of Acts, I’m continually struck by how the body of Christ expanded. My maverick heart immediately recognizes that it didn’t happen institutionally. In today’s chapter Jesus dramatically calls Saul, a man eager to be Jesus’ greatest enemy. Remember when Jesus said, “love your enemies and bless those who persecute you?” Yeah, Jesus did that with Saul.

Then Jesus calls on a man named Ananias. We don’t know anything about Ananias. We don’t know his background, where he came from,  or how he became a follower of Jesus. His name was quite common in that day. It’s like God choosing a guy named John Smith. Ananias was just a guy in Damascus sitting at home praying. He wasn’t one of “The Twelve.” He wasn’t in Jerusalem where the leaders of Jesus’ movement were headquartered and deciding things. Out of the blue this nobody in Damascus gets tapped by Jesus to heal the man who was His self-proclaimed worst enemy. His name only comes up one more time in the Great Story.

From a leadership perspective, I love what Jesus is doing. He isn’t confining the work of His movement to be channeled only through his chosen leader, Peter, and the other eleven proteges. Jesus is expanding the work through everyone who believes and follows. Holy Spirit is filling everyone. Spiritual gifts are being distributed to everyone; Even an unsuspecting, common man named Ananias sitting at home in Damascus praying.

Jesus isn’t creating an institution. He’s creating an organism just like He did back in the opening chapters of Genesis. He’s creating a complex living body made up of millions of individual cells each called on to do their individual part for the whole, that it may accomplish its purpose of love and salvation.

This morning I’m sitting in my hotel room getting ready to go work with a client, who happens to be a large, global corporation. Like I said, I work best from the outside in. It’s how God made me. I’m sitting here thinking about the stories of an angry man named Saul and a common man named Ananias. I love that Jesus works outside the lines. I love that He’s not a God of bureaucracy but a God of living, breathing, creative power and beauty. That’s the Jesus I know. That’s the Jesus who called to me when I was 14 and still inspires me almost 40 years later. That’s the Jesus this maverick will follow each day of this earthly life (and then into eternity).

 

Chapter-a-Day Acts 9

Paul @ Bundoran
Paul @ Bundoran (Photo credit: bettlebrox)

Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink. Acts 9:8-9 (NLT)

I had a moment of synchronicity yesterday as I sat in the back of the church during worship. The music was playing just before the morning message and I thought to myself that I’d read the chapter for today just to let it speak to me and percolate before I had to write this post. I opened to Acts 9. At that moment, the preacher stood and told everyone to open their Bibles to Acts 9. I looked up at the stage, then back down to the page. I was already there. It was a bit surreal.

The preacher called the disorienting event in Saul’s life a “Depends Moment.” Life goes along as expected. We are oriented and calibrated. Life is chugging along nicely and we are in a groove of living, thinking, and believing. Then comes a disorienting event that makes us pee our pants (hand me the Depends). Like Paul on the road to Damascus we are left blind. Everything we’ve thought, known, and believed becomes dark.

After the disorienting event – over the days, weeks and years to come, Paul’s life was reoriented. From detractor to believer, instead of being a persecutor of Jesus’ followers, he became arguably their greatest convert and leader.

Orientation, disorientation, reorientation.

My “Depends Moment” came seven years ago next Sunday when the divorce decree was filed. Seemingly all that I’d become oriented to think, live and believe over 40 years came crashing down around me. Disorientation followed and reorientation began.

The preacher reminded us yesterday to thank God for “Depends Moments.” They are the vehicle God uses to break us down so that He can take us through the process of reorientation for the next stage of our journey. Today, I’m thinking back to 40 years of orientation, to a period of blinding disorientation, and to the past seven years of reorientation.

I don’t know exactly where it leads anymore than Paul knew what was happening as he sat blindly on Straight Street in Damascus. But, I’m excited to find out for what God has been reorienting me.