Day 17: U-Turns: Some are sharper than others (Acts 9:1-19)
Today’s Passage: Acts 9:1-19
I travel a bit. Interesting to observe how different states in the U.S, and different countries, handle U-Turns. In some places it is illegal to make a U-Turn. In other places they are built into the road systems.
Then, of course, regardless of the legality, people make U-Turns all the time.
Some U-Turns are abrupt. Others so gradual you hardly notice. In the end, you are facing a completely different direction. I am talking about our U-Turns in life.
Today we read of the dramatic conversion of St. Paul. He starts as Saul; breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He has been dragging people from their homes in Jerusalem. His vengeance is insatiable, now he is off to expand his terror
That is until God gets ahold of him.
This religious zealot thinks he is serving the Most High God—and the Most High God has something to say about how wrong he is.
This conversion, from Saul the slaughterer to Paul the proponent, is radical and immediate.
His U-Turn is sharp.
To be clear, to follow Jesus, we must make U-Turns. The word “repent” literally means to turnaround. Everyone’s natural tendency is to turn away from God; we must turn towards God. And just like with Saul, it requires God’s intervention. Please hear me. None of us come to God on our own. It is God who initiates the call.
At times this call from God is like a lightning bolt (or a 2x4 to the head). The turn is sharp. At other times, God is calling and yet we resist, until we wear ourselves down trying to live our lives apart from him. There are still other times when God’s call is like the wooing of a lover.
This process can be so gradual, that sometimes we cannot determine the exact moment when we find ourselves facing God.
I have friends who cannot pinpoint the exact moment, in the past, when they came to believe. It troubles them. I ask, “Today, who do you say Jesus is?” They answer, “My Lord and my God, He died for my sins!” To which I say, “Great, stop worrying about the past, God lives in the present.”
The key is to get pointed in the right direction.
And there is more good news, God sends people to help. So often, when we are turned around, facing a new destination, we find ourselves confused and disoriented. God knows this, he responds with help. We see that in the text with Ananias.
What is interesting is that this is a daily, sometimes hourly process—turning towards God. Even after we turn to Jesus, we can easily turn away. Daily we must, by God’s help, turn to him.