by Tiffany C. Chaney
In Acts 9:1-20, Jesus tells both Saul and Ananias to get up and go, sending both toward a divine connection. When Jesus encounters Saul on the road to Damascus where he sought to persecute Christ’s followers, it changes his life. A divine voice tells Saul that in persecuting the believers, he is persecuting Jesus himself.
Blinded, he is sent with no instructions, just the divine command to go. This is the beginning of Saul’s new life as Paul, apostle to the Gentiles. Saul’s path of destruction was no more.
Like Saul (although we hope we’re not on a mission of murder like his), we sometimes need a disruption in our journey in order to receive our call. We may be so comfortable on our current journey that we can’t see that God is calling us to something different. We may be so comfortable with what we’re doing every day that we don’t realize God has something better for us.
It’s not just Saul who hears the divine voice in this text; the Lord also speaks to Ananias, asking him to visit Saul and lay hands on him so his sight would be restored.
Imagine what Ananias must have been thinking as he traveled to Straight Street. It wasn’t the act of healing he was asked to do that made Ananias uneasy. He did not question whether his hands would have the effect the Lord desired. Instead, Ananias was shaking in his sandals because he knew who Saul was.
Ananias knew Saul was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” He knew Saul had been sent to capture any followers of Christ and take them away to Jerusalem.
Ananias had been just minding his own business when the Lord interrupted his journey and sent him to minister to this terrifying Saul. Oh, it must have been a long, long walk to Straight Street that day. But Ananias made the journey nevertheless.
As I imagine Ananias walking along, frightened of what might come next, I am reminded of Jesus on a journey of his own, walking toward the cross on which he knew he would die. Now that was uncomfortable. But Jesus made that journey nevertheless.
In life, we are called to take part in journeys of our own. Sometimes that call may leave us shaking in our sandals like Ananias. But we are called to make the journey nevertheless.
God desires to use us just as he used Ananias. Ananias was chosen to play a part in the transformation of Saul, who served as an instrument to spread the gospel to all people. While the journey to Saul’s side was surely unsettling for Ananias, he had been chosen by God to take his part in the spreading of the Good News, just as we are.
The Lord had told Saul to go to Damascus where he would be told what to do, so he had to go without knowing what the future held. Sometimes, like Saul, we respond to a call without knowing what we are getting ourselves into. But when the Lord calls us, we have to be willing to get up and go — to go lay hands on the person who needs it, to go walk with someone even if they don’t know they need it, to go be with someone despite our fears.
I wish I could promise that the journey God has in mind for each of us will always be easy. I can’t. If we search the Bible, I believe we would be hard pressed to find any time where God called someone to something comfortable. Just ask Noah, who had to build an ark with no sign of rain. Just ask Abram and Sarai, who had to leave their home without knowing where God would send them. Just ask Moses, who had to lead a whiny crowd in the wilderness for 40 years. Just ask Joshua, who had to take the whiny children and whiny grandchildren of those whiny people into the promised land and fight to capture the land. Just ask little David, who had to use a stone and slingshot to kill big Goliath. Just ask young Mary, who birthed a savior. Just ask the savior, Jesus, who had to die on a cross for the sins of the world. Just ask the apostles, the ones Saul tried to kill before his transformation, the ones who, while fearing for their life, had to share the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection throughout all the world.
The journey may not be comfortable. But we are not alone. We can rest assured that the Lord is beside us every step of the way. As we are called into difficult situations, even if the call from Christ brings with it fear and uncertainty, let us make the journey nevertheless.
What is God calling you to today? Get up and go!
1. Where has your journey been interrupted? How did you feel when this happened?
2. Where are you being sent that’s uncomfortable? Who are you being asked to meet that makes you nervous? Are you willing to get up and go?
3. Throughout the Bible, there are examples of people who had to respond to God’s uncomfortable call. Which do you most relate to in your life? How does this story inspire you to keep going?
Lord, it would be so much easier if the journey you called me to was always comfortable. But, Lord, it is so much more rewarding to be able to look back and see the rough places through which you brought me. There will be times in my life when I am off course and you need to disrupt me. There will times in my life when I am the one you desire to use to go minister to difficult people. In all those times, give me the courage to respond to your call to get up and go. Amen.
The Rev. Tiffany C. Chaney is pastor and mission developer of Gathered by Grace, a newly formed worshiping community in Montgomery, Ala.