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Acts 9:1-19, The Conversion of Saul

An Uncomfortable Calling

Have you ever had one of those moments when God called you to do something, and you were like, "Yes! I'll go... wait... what?!" Sometimes God calls us to do some uncomfortable things. Specifically, sometimes God calls us to interact with people that make us uncomfortable. Saul had a life-changing calling for sure. But Ananias was also called, and it was probably terrifying. Saul was known to imprison and even kill Christians, and God called Ananias to welcome Saul and show him the utmost hospitality.

Recently I had an opportunity to spend some time with a man from Pakistan. He had only been in the states since February. His accent was thick, and I spent a lot of time asking him to repeat himself. I could have smiled and discontinued the conversation, but I was eager to learn about him, his family, and his experiences in Pakistan and here in the states. He talked about how hard it's been to make the transition. In Pakistan he was an administrator in a school. Here he's working a full-time factory job in the morning, and a full-time job serving food in the evening. Learning the language, the culture, and how to navigate his way through the US political system has been very hard. That's when it got real.

I felt a pull in the pit of my stomach. It was a tug from God not to let this man or his family out of my life. For weeks, I've been toying with the idea of inviting him and his family to dinner. But I haven't done it yet. I keep coming up with reasons not to. My house isn't clean. I don't want to make my family uncomfortable. I don't want to offend them by not knowing their culture and traditions. I don't want to embarrass them (or me) with my constant, "I'm sorry, what?"

But those are just excuses. They're dumb reasons not to take a risk. Not to follow God's calling. What might I learn from this man and his family? How might I grow from the experience of having them in my life? Sometimes when God calls, it's uncomfortable. But we never grow unless we become willing to push ourselves outside our comfort zones. 

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 9:1-19

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying,and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.