|Road to Damascus|
As we prepare to discuss Through Gates of Splendor (April 30th), and prepare our hearts for Easter, I hope you will be blessed.
I would love to hear more about your heroes of the faith in the comments. Here's the poetic voice of Ms. Stanley:
From the chief of all sinners to a chosen vessel, the life, testimony and transformation of Paul (formerly known as Saul) is astounding and showcases the power of a God who is mighty and strong to save. His living, breathing surrender to Christ not only gave us a hope of what is possible in our walk with the Lord but also gave us 14 beautiful books of the Bible. Including one of my favorites – Romans!
We are introduced to Paul (Saul at this time) in the book of Acts where he is agreeing to Stephen’s death by stoning, while the witnesses were laying their clothes as his feet. Wreaking havoc on the church, hauling Christian men and women off to prison, threatening and slaughtering them, Saul was determined to stamp out any hint of Christianity in Jerusalem and abroad. So determined was he that he set out to Damascus to obtain letters from the high priest that he may bring any Christians he came across back to Jerusalem, bound and with the intent to kill them. But on his way to Damascus, “suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:3-4). Trembling and astounded, he immediately asks the Lord what He would have him do - total surrender as instant as the total forgiveness offered, this marks the beginning of an incredible relationship between Saviour and saved. For “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” (Romans 5:20).
What touches me the most about Paul’s life is how the Lord could take someone like him and completely and beautifully transform him. It shows that no matter what you’ve done or where you are, the blood of Jesus Christ flows there and will cover all your sins. As the scales fell from Paul’s eyes, this new man was given new sight and a new name. His is one of the most powerful conversions ever recorded. The Lord said that He would show Paul the great things he must suffer for His name’s sake, and yes, they were great! In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 we are given a rough list: “…in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils of the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” YET, Paul joyfully accepted them all, declaring in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” But how could he say this? It was because he stood on the promise of the Lord when He said to him: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (v.9). One scholar summed up the life of Paul this way: “Jesus commanded, Paul obeyed.”
What a testimony this man left behind! What a walk for us to follow! What an example for us to mirror! He faced most everything we have or could and then some, and still no complaint fell from his lips. I stand convicted by this hero of the faith. I want a heart like his that breaks for the sinner and seeks after God; I want a faith like his that will trust the Lord at all times and in all things; I want a boldness like his to preach the gospel, forsaking earthly comforts for the glorification of the God of all comfort; and I want a love like his that will gladly spend and be spent for others. I want a testimony worthy of being listed alongside such a hero. May we all desire such things, that one day, by the grace of God, they may be said of us also.