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January 12, 2012

A couple of days ago my Bible reading took me to Acts 9, the story of the conversion of Saul. You know how it goes I’m sure. Paul, a vicious enemy of the early church, is on his way to from Jerusalem to Damascus so he can begin a whole new wave of persecution against the Christians there. But somewhere between the cities a sudden light shines from heaven and Saul has an unexpected encounter with Jesus. Jesus told him to continue on his way to Damascus and to wait to be told what he must do.

Paul obeys and continues to Damascus, blind now, and having to be led all the way. For three days the blindness continues and for those three days he fasts from all food and drink.

As Paul waits, prays and fasts, we are introduced to a disciple named Ananias. The Lord appears to him in a vision and tells him to go to Saul and to heal his eyes by laying hands on him. I’ve always gotten a strange joy out of Ananias’ “Um…God” moment. Having been told to go and visit this man Saul, this man whose name is synonymous with persecution, Ananias seems to say, “Um…I know you’re omniscient and all, but maybe you haven’t heard about this Saul guy. So let me tell you about him…” (I’ve written about this here)

Eventually faith and reason prevail. Ananias finds the place Paul is staying and goes on in to see him. And as I read (actually, listened to) the account this time two words stood out to me: “Brother Saul.” Ananias enters that house, lays his hands on Saul and says, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

August 14, 2007

Excerpted from Jim Andrew’s Polishing God’s Monuments.

When the Lord’s ways do not neatly conform to our pat little paradigms of what seems (to our fallible minds) right and just, and good and faithful, it says something about human nature that usually the first thought that comes to mind is that something is wrong with God. Somehow the last thing that occurs to us is that God is simply too big for our small boxes. It is imperative at such times that we learn to be humble, not haughty. God always deserves the benefit of the doubt. And, faith always pleads with us, “Dear soul, trust in God’s power, trust God’s wisdom, trust God’s goodness, trust God’s faithfulness—even though to your mixed-up, emotionally over-charged mind he doesn’t seem to be living up to his resume or promises. Just do it anyways.

Christian common sense should also remind us that divine revelation is always a far more reliable barometer of reality that our personal perceptions, distorted as they are by how we think a moral and upright God is obliged to behave in this situation or that. Friends, my advice is this: discount personal feelings—rest in the biblical facts. Don’t always be awash in how things seem; anchor your faith on how divine revelation says they are. Never allow blind emotions to float you off into the open sea of doubt.

With that adjustment, one can trust his goodness even when God may not seem to be good; one can trust his wisdom even when he may not seem to be wise; one can trust he is acting in character even when he may not seem to be measuring up to his own revealed profile; one can trust his power even when it seems he is weak; one can trust his faithfulness even when it seems he is not being faithful.

This book, dealing with “pillars of hope for punishing times” and telling the story of grace through almost inconceivable suffering is available from Amazon.