Damascus Road

Hello, my friends!

Have you ever had a moment where everything in your life suddenly changed? Where you thought you were headed in one direction, only to have God dramatically redirect your path? That's exactly what happened to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. His story is a powerful reminder of God's amazing grace and His ability to transform even the most unlikely people for His purposes.

Saul was the number one enemy of the early church. He made it his full-time occupation to hunt down, imprison, and even execute followers of Jesus. Can you imagine the fear that must have gripped the hearts of believers when they heard Saul was coming to their city? Yet, Saul truly believed he was serving God by stamping out this new “heretical” movement. It's a sobering reminder that zeal alone isn't enough – we need to make sure our passion is guided by truth.

But God had other plans! As Saul journeyed to Damascus, breathing threats and murder against the disciples, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. The Bible tells us this light was “brighter than the noonday sun” (Acts 26:13). Saul fell to the ground and heard the voice of Jesus saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).

Can you imagine how shocked and confused Saul must have been in that moment? The very one he thought he was serving God by opposing was now revealed as the risen Lord! This encounter completely upended Saul's world. For three days he was blind, neither eating nor drinking. But during that time, God was doing a deep work in his heart.

It's fascinating to note that God also gave a vision to a believer named Ananias, instructing him to go lay hands on Saul. Understandably, Ananias was hesitant. “Lord,” he said, “I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). But God assured him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

What beautiful grace we see in this moment! The first words Saul heard from a fellow believer were, “Brother Saul” (Acts 9:17). Despite all the harm he had done, Ananias welcomed him instantly as a brother in Christ. Oh, how we need this kind of grace-filled welcome in our churches today!

When Ananias laid hands on him, Saul received his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit. The scales fell from his eyes, both physically and spiritually. What's so amazing is how quickly and completely Saul's life was transformed. The Bible tells us that “immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). The same passion and zeal that had driven Saul to persecute the church was now redirected to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Friends, Saul's conversion reminds us that no one is beyond the reach of God's grace. As Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Perhaps you feel that your past disqualifies you from being used by God. Or maybe you're praying for a loved one who seems hopelessly far from faith. Take heart! The same God who transformed Saul into the apostle Paul is still at work today.

Not only did God save Saul, but He gave him a powerful vision for his life's purpose. God had big plans for this former persecutor! It's a beautiful reminder that our salvation isn't just about us – it's about God's larger purposes in the world. As Paul would later write, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

After his dramatic conversion, Paul spent time in Arabia, where he received direct revelation from Jesus Christ. He writes in Galatians, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus” (Galatians 1:15-17).

This time of preparation was crucial for Paul's ministry. Just as the other apostles had spent three years learning from Jesus in person, Paul needed time to unlearn his old ways of thinking and receive the full revelation of the gospel of grace. It's a reminder that God often uses seasons of quiet preparation before launching us into our full calling.

When Paul returned to Damascus, he preached with such power that the Jews plotted to kill him. The disciples had to lower him in a basket through an opening in the wall to help him escape (Acts 9:25). Can you imagine the irony? The one who had come to arrest believers was now being rescued by them!

Later, when Paul went to Jerusalem, the believers there were understandably afraid of him. But Barnabas, whose name means “son of encouragement,” took Paul and brought him to the apostles. What a beautiful example of the body of Christ in action! We all need people who will believe in us and advocate for us, especially when our past might make others suspicious.

Paul's early ministry wasn't easy. He faced opposition from both religious leaders and sceptical believers. But he pressed on, growing “more and more powerful” and “baffling the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 9:22 NIV).

Later in his life, Paul wrote, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). He was determined to lay hold of that for which Christ had laid hold of him. What about you, my friend? Do you know the purpose for which God has saved you? Are you pressing toward that goal?

Maybe you once had a clear sense of God's calling, but you feel you've lost your way. Take heart! Even those times when we feel we're just treading water can be seasons of preparation. God is always at work, even when we can't see it. I believe He wants to revive visions and dreams in many hearts in these closing chapters of the church age.

Paul's life is a powerful testimony to God's grace and the transforming power of the gospel. He went from being the church's greatest persecutor to its greatest missionary. He wrote much of the New Testament and planted churches throughout the Roman Empire. Yet he never forgot the grace that saved him. He wrote, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

So, let me ask you: What is that thing for which Jesus laid hold of you, as in, what purpose did He make you for? How can you begin to open your heart up to it today? Remember, it's never too late to let God's purposes for your life be made manifest, just be open-hearted to all that He has for you. Tell Him you are up for it even if you feel inadequate, for His grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Perhaps you're reading this and realising that you've never had your own Damascus Road experience. You've never surrendered your life to Jesus and received His forgiveness and new life. If that's you, I want you to know that God loves you deeply. Just as He pursued Saul, He's pursuing you. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

You don't have to clean up your act before coming to Jesus. You don't have to have it all figured out. Just like Saul, you can come as you are and let God transform you from the inside out. If you want to receive Christ today, simply pray from your heart, admitting your need for Him, believing in what He did for you on the cross, and inviting Him to be the Lord of your life.

For those of us who have been walking with the Lord for a while, let's not lose the wonder of our salvation. Let's not forget the grace that saved us and continues to sustain us. May we, like Paul, be able to say, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

Be blessed today my brothers and sisters, may we all, like Paul, be able to say at the end of our lives: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Let's run with endurance the race God has set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus every step of the way. And let's remember that the same grace that transformed Saul into Paul is available to us every day, empowering us to live from God's glory and purposes He has sewn deep within our new creation being!