Sunday, June 2, 2013

ananias

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. (Acts 9:10-19)


A few days ago, as I was beginning my time with the Lord, I noticed that my reading for the day was Acts 9:1-19, and to be quite honest with you, I couldn't have been less excited.  "Paul's conversion," I thought to myself, "I feel like I have read this twenty times in the last six months."  I know, I know you aren't supposed to admit things like this, but it is honestly how I felt.  I wondered, "What in the world could God have for me today in a passage that is oh so familiar?"  But then I remembered his words to me a week or so ago about the treasure buried in the field, and his admonition to me, in all areas of life, to keep digging until I've found the treasure.

So that's exactly what I did.  I turned back to the scriptures that day with a renewed sense of energy and determination.  And as I dug through the soil of Acts 9, it came to life.  In fact, it didn't just come to life in a general sense, but it came to life in my life very specifically.  Because what God did that day is that He opened up a window for me to see Him through the life and ministry of Ananias.  I mean, compared to Paul, Ananias' life and role and ministry seems relatively minor.  All Ananias did was simply pay attention to God, listen when He spoke, and respond to God in the specific ways that He was calling him to.  He went only to one man, prayed, laid his hands on him, and touched him in a way that allowed him to see again.  Not big.  Not flashy.  Not even noticeable.  No fame.  No fanfare.  No applause.  No one (other than Paul) even knew about it.  Ananias was not called to touch thousands upon thousands, that was Paul's job.  Ananias was not called to do anything particularly heroic, again, that was Paul's calling.  Ananias was called to touch one.  Specifically, all he was called to do was pay attention, listen, and go to the one to which God had called him to speak.  Then  he was to speak the words God had given him, touch his eyes, and allow him to see again.  in fact, the name Ananias means "he whom Jehovah has graciously given."  What a great name; Ananias was God's gracious gift...to Paul, and ultimately to all of us as well.

Now I have to admit, through the years I have always carried with me this sense in ministry that I was never doing enough.  As hard as I tried, I was simply not heroic, not spectacular, not impacting thousands.  In short, I felt guilty that I was not Paul.  And somewhere deep down inside, I think I thought that I should be.  But here, in this passage, on this day, when I was reluctant to even want to read Acts 9 to begin with, God told me some amazing, and incredibly freeing news.  You do not have to be Paul; you are Ananias.  Well you know what I mean, not literally Ananias, but the life and the role and the ministry he has called me to is more similar to that of Ananias than that of Paul.  Almost as if God was saying, "Be who I have made you to be."  How incredibly freeing.  No guilt.  No should.  No false pressure.  Just paying attention to Him, listening, going to the one he calls me to go to, placing my hands on him, telling him what God has said to me, and helping in the process of him seeing in a new way.  I'd found the treasure.

I'm certainly glad I kept digging.

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