The month of May brought forth a vibrancy I haven’t seen in years. The trees are fuller, the flowers brighter, the air is cleaner, the birds … more colorful. The reduction of gases and pollutants due to the Covid shut-down must be a contributing factor; offering a positive outcome we can actually see. And, when we reflect on our own experience over the past year, we’ll discover more positive results.
As the CDC sets new mask guidelines, and vendors get back to business as usual, we too, can take a deep breath. Because the season of our confinement is coming to an end. Although it’s a relief, we have to identify the resulting good, before we jump back into the fray. The forced shut down, slowed us down, presenting a rare opportunity to reset our lives and priorities. Many areas of life will remain forever changed—some for the best. In kind, we should assess the changes we need and make them.
Change takes courage and following through, perseverance.
The Apostle Paul experienced a great change on the road to Damascus. Physically blinded by Christ, this abuser of Christian people, was brought to his knees, due to Spiritual Blindness in his life. His transformation led him to three years of solitary living. During which time he learned from, and grew to, love Christ; the only Way to truth and life.
Prior to conversion, Paul, a well-respected, educated Pharisee, lived a life of privilege and reward. After conversion, he experienced persecution by friend and foe alike. At first, no one understood his conversion experience and he lived distrusted by all sides. But eventually, the undeniable evidence of his transformation brought support from those who trusted Christ.
Let’s consider a few of Paul’s obstacles and how they would affect us.
1. Blinded – Paul, a man of power and authority, struck down, vulnerable, has now to depend on others to show him the way.
Does pride stand in the way of getting help from others? Does it stand in the way of hearing from God?
2. Conversion – His radical change confused his colleagues and the community at large, as he became a promoter of the very ideology he sought to persecute.
How do we stack up in the face of opposition? Are we crushed and shut down? Or can we move forward in the power of God?
3. Truth – He genuinely believed he was doing the right thing, as he stood by and watched the stoning of Stephen.
Is it possible something we support may not be right, or righteous?
4. Confronted – He finally saw his blindness and put pride and shame aside.
Can we admit when we are wrong and do an about face?
5. Decision – A right understanding empowered Paul to educate others and share the good news.
Do you share the truths you discover or keep them to yourself?
6. Persecuted – Paul experienced beatings, stoning, scourging, mockery and murder. Yet he purposed to share the gospel truth with a world in need. And establishing churches wherever he could go. What is your mission?
Paul’s personality of excellence in pursuing education, righteousness, and leadership became the very qualities God used in him when he could spiritually see. God will use our greatest qualities in the most profound ways, when we lay our lives and talents in His hands.
Finding truth is the first step. After conversion, Paul sought solitude to reflect and learn about Christ. Our time of solitude has presented us with such a time. What will we do with the information we have gleaned? Will we look as vibrant as the trees this year?
Sometimes, like Paul, we wholeheartedly believe we are doing the right thing.
Acts 26:9-11 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
Jesus came to set us straight and to set us free.
What will you do with this gift?
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise from another place. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom
for Such a Time as This?”
All scripture references from the English Standard Version