Act 9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 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. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" 5 He asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
Act 9:17 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." 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God."
This is the story of two people whose lives are radically altered: Saul turns from a persecutor of Christ-followers to become a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus. Ananias moves from fearful avoidance of Saul, to become Saul’s pastor. Both are a kairos moment: the intervention of God into history.
This story has since become part of the language of our modern society. A “Damascus Road experience” refers to a profound, life-changing experience that alters the direction and thinking of an individual. For some, like Saul, this might be a moment of self-knowledge that leads you to commit your life to following Jesus. For others, this might be an “aha” moment when you gain a new perspective that marks a new direction in life. We cannot engineer these moments. They are gifts of God. We can choose to ignore them, and so lose the opportunity for a God-given correction of our course in life.
Prayer: Lord: thank you for the moments of divine intervention in our lives. Please would you stop me in my tracks when I am getting lost. At such moments I trust you to you turn me around and put me on the right path. Amen
Third Sunday after Epiphany
9. “The Call to Ministry”
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 65.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.