Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Lot Like Ananias

I have been a little more inconsistent with getting that much-needed time in the Word lately—I don’t know what the deal is, but this morning I decided to wake up an hour earlier then normal and just use that whole time to read instead of working out. I’ve spent most of the summer in Acts, and decided to go back through and review what I have actually retained over these months. As I was skimming through the stories, for some reason something stood out to me.

Now, I will say that Paul’s conversion story in Acts 9 has always been one of my favorite bible stories—I think mostly because I feel like I can relate to Him so much. I can parallel so many aspects of my life before Christ to Paul’s—for some reason I am automatically drawn to the people in scripture who were the worst of the worst before (or even while) knowing Christ. Probably because it just makes me feel better about myself—I mean I haven’t killed anyone and I am not planning on taking multiple husbands. Haha. I know, I know—sin is sin is sin. And I am definitely a sinner! I don’t know I guess I have always seen Paul as someone forthcoming about his sinfulness often and that has drawn me to him and his story.

But this time as I was reading through His salvation story, comparing myself to him along the way, the Lord very boldly pointed something out. I had never paid much attention to this disciple named Ananias in the story. I mean, it is about Paul after all. But for some reason this entire day I have not been able to stop thinking about this guy, Ananias.

Basically, the Lord came to Ananias in a vision and told him to go to the place Paul was staying and to restore his sight. I mean, really if you think about this, how could you even consider saying no to such an command—more or less questioning the one and only sovereign God when He tells you to go make someone see again. Not only would that be the coolest thing to witness, but the fact that THE LORD would entrust such a task to Ananias—what an honor.

 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

   “Yes, Lord,” he answered.

 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on
Straight Street
and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

But of course, instead of expressing his deepest gratitude for such a task to be given to him, Ananias replies with this: 
 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

I think I tried to rationalize this one out for a good hour—but immediately after reading that reply, the Lord ever so gently put that spirit of conviction deep in my gut. Courtney, sweet daughter of mine, THIS is you. Instead of obeying my Word immediately, you so easily question my wisdom. You hesitate for days, weeks, even months sometimes to obey the convictions I have placed on your heart. Precious daughter, do you not understand that my Word ALWAYS brings LIFE, and yet you willingly choose to endure death.

Like Ananias, I love to point out others faults and sins. Sometimes, I genuinely believe my purpose in life is to be the spirit of conviction for those around me…what a job He has entrusted me with—forget about restoring vision to the blind! Anyhow, more often then not, I am quick to speak and slow to listen. Quick to react and slow to obey. Quick to judge and slow to show compassion.

More then anything, the Lord has really forced me to refocus the way I view the men who traffic precious children and women. To revisit the way I view the rapist. To revisit the way I view the man who beats his wife. Like Ananias, I often cry out to the Lord...I have heard her cries…I have heard what he has done to her…I have seen death in her eyes and I know it is him who put it there. He treats her like an item to be bought and sold, abused and used, enslaved and chained. He has all the authority over her—he even has control over the corrupt authorities who use and abuse her instead of protecting her. He has come to degrade and murder YOUR daughters. And you are telling me to love them…to forgive them…to share the gospel with them…the restore their SIGHT?? They don’t deserve to see again…they don’t even deserve to take another breathe, God. Come on, don’t you know his heart? Aren’t you going to make him pay? Aren’t you just?

 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Go, Courtney, just go! Obey me when I tell you to forgive the unforgiveable…to love the unlovable…and to heal the abuser, the murder, or the trafficker. You just obey me and let me do the judging. After all, I am God—I do know what I’m doing sometimes...even when you may not understand it in your limited human brain. I have CHOSEN him!! I am going to use the extent of his depravity before knowing me to bring all the glory to myself now! I am going to send him to places you could never reach people you would never even talk to!! And let me tell you, they will listen to Him…they will be drawn to me by the Spirit that lives in HIM!! And he will suffer—not because of his sinfulness but because of my calling upon his life. He has not known such a suffering as this. Daughter, you just pray over him and restore his sight, that he may see with new eyes. You encourage him and speak life over him. You love him, in all of his blindness, until he sees, just as I have done for you. Do you not remember, you were once blind too Courtney. You were blind, but now you see—because of me.

 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

I pray that I can be like Ananias in my response. That I will obediently forgive the sinner, love the sinner, heal the sinner, for that IS ME…a sinner who has been forgiven, loved and healed. Thank you Jesus, for you blood, love and healing power. Thank you for conviction from your holy spirit. Thank you for teachable moments like these which fail to escape my heart and mind. Thank you for your patience with me, Father. Thank you for saving your children who, in the world’s eyes are the worst or the worst, the undeserving. Thank you that you do not separate sin—that your blood flows over all of it.

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