You have to give credit to Ananias. Really – would you have gone and prayed for Hitler?? At the point that God told Ananias to go to Saul, soon to be known in Christendom as Paul, Saul was well known for being the one person that fought against the new “Jesus” sect most efficiently, and most zealously.
His victims were too many to count, and he didn’t care who they were. Zeal was a constant lifestyle for this up-and-coming young Jew, always had been – always would be. Yes, he was a student of Gamaliel, who taught in the school of Hillel in Jerusalem. To Gamaliel, the call was prayerful peace and standing aside for God to do His Work…waiting on The Lord (Acts 5:33-42). But Saul’s actions more suited the other school of thought in Jerusalem, the school of Shammai, who saw action, including war, as the tool to lead Israel to victory over its oppressors (See N.T. Wright’s “Paul” pg 36). Being from Tarsus originally, Paul had seen closely how Romans behaved, and it reviled him. He chose the path of zeal, like Phinehas (Num 25:6-12) and many others before him, convinced deeply that this was the way to drown this man Jesus out of traditional Judaism in the midst of Israel. To him, these new followers of “The Way” were a pox on their faith.
That is who God told Ananias of Damascus to go visit; who he was to touch and pray for – the oppressor of Jesus’ people.
Ananias did not just say “As you wish” and skip out the door. He was genuinely frightened. He hesitated. And THEN, he questioned. He questioned God Almighty! Even as I write this, I know I have done the same. And yet, I, and Ananias, live! What boundless love our Savior has for us! Worship God, my friends!
Ac 9:10-17 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in 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 vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
And Ananias went his way and entered the house… NKJV
Basically, God told Ananias “I know who he is. Your job is to pray for him, MY Job is to change him.” Our problems, once stated out loud, become God’s problems. We no longer deal with them alone, nor of our own understanding. God loves it when we hand them over, even in the form of a question. God always has solutions, and He wants to bring you in, and make you a part of them; by your choice – the choice He gave us when He created us. Whether short, or long-term solutions, we get to be a cog in the wheel, instead of being ground into the dirt underneath it.
That begins with us telling God what we are really thinking…openly and honestly. Even when we disagree. Even when we are afraid, reluctant, or confused – find one bible hero who did not go through that – none were worthy on their own. God’s move within them made them capable; Jesus’ sacrifice made them worthy. What we do see is people in the bible having their panic attacks, deep doubts, intense questions, and fears “out loud”, in front of God. They don’t try to hide it, but are open about their doubts and weaknesses. This is a perfect opportunity for God to show Himself Strong – it’s what Holy Spirit is watching for. Humility, with an open ear, and a willing heart.
Jdg 6:12-27 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man…” Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.” Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.” So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace.
So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. NKJV
Lk 1:30-38 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” NKJV
These few examples can be seen playing out over and over again in scripture, and, if we look carefully, in our own walks of faith. Yes, we have questions, problems, and doubts. God has resolutions, relationship, and strength to give us.
Remember, God knows what you’re thinking (Luke 11:17, among many), so not saying it only withholds resolution, and a closer walk with Jesus. God is near, and waiting. Just say it, already!
August 31, 2021