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10 In Damascus there was a certain disciple named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
He answered, “Yes, Lord.”
11 The Lord instructed him, “Go to Judas’ house on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias enter and put his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 Ananias countered, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man. People say he has done horrible things to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 He’s here with authority from the chief priests to arrest everyone who calls on your name.”
15 The Lord replied, “Go! This man is the agent I have chosen to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
17 Ananias went to the house. He placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord sent me—Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you were coming here. He sent me so that you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly, flakes fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.
12 “There was a certain man named Ananias. According to the standards of the Law, he was a pious man who enjoyed the respect of all the Jews living there. 13 He came and stood beside me. ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ he said. Instantly, I regained my sight and I could see him. 14 He said, ‘The God of our ancestors has selected you to know his will, to see the righteous one, and to hear his voice. 15 You will be his witness to everyone concerning what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins as you call on his name.’”
In music, we sometimes refer to a particular singer or band as a “one-hit wonder.” There are Bible characters who, somewhat similarly, only make one appearance in the Bible story, and yet play a deeply significant role. One of them was a Christian in Damascus named Ananias. He knew Saul’s reputation for persecuting Christians yet obeyed (not without some fear) a divine directive to go and pray for Saul. “Imagine the courage it must have taken for Ananias to confront Paul the inquisitor.” *
Lord, if Ananias had said “no,” he would have missed the chance to be part of a historically great moment. Help me not to miss your call, or to fail to answer. Amen.
Years ago, my wife and I were trying to get out of debt and so we’d sold our second car and I was riding the bus to the Sprint Campus every day where I worked. If you’ve never ridden the bus, then you need to know that they run on a tight schedule, and you have to be at the bus stop when the bus gets there or they leave without you.
I was done working for the day and I was headed out the door to catch my bus. As I walked through the 3rd-floor elevator lobby, I happened to see a contractor who I’d been working with on a project. He was on his phone in the lobby. Earlier in the day, he’d told me this was his last day with Sprint and he was headed off to California for a new contract. I waved at him and started down the stairs.
I immediately got what I would call an “intersecting thought.” This kind of thought abruptly interrupts your flow of thinking and comes right to the front. I got the strong impression that I was supposed to go over and pray for this contractor. Right there. In the lobby. With all the other employees around. I clearly sensed this was something God wanted me to do, and I immediately had resistance. In the lobby? In a secular workplace? I could get in trouble. I could embarrass him. I could embarrass ME! And besides, I needed to catch my bus. If I didn’t get moving I was going to miss it!
So I kept moving. As I headed down the stairs, I could feel a pressure starting to build in my chest. I went out the door into the courtyard and started to head across the Campus toward my bus stop. With every step I took the pressure got more intense. It was like the feeling you have when you’re about to buy something you KNOW you can’t afford – like that feeling of dread that you’re about to make a terrible mistake. I kept going until the feeling became too intense to ignore. I felt like I really, really, really needed to go back and pray for this guy.
I threw my hands up. “Fine!” I said to God. I decided to just miss my bus. There was a later bus – it was going to mess up my family’s schedule, but I figured whatever this was that I sensed God wanted me to do, it was going to be such an amazing “God moment” that my wife would understand.
I trudged back across the Campus, across the courtyard, all the way back to my building, and all the way up the stairs to the 3rd floor lobby. Amazingly, the contractor was still there on his phone in the lobby.
I didn’t have any time to waste, so I walked right up to him, out of breath, and just said “I think God told me that I’m supposed to pray for you before you leave for California. Is it OK if I do that?” He looked up, surprised. I figured he was going to reject me, and we could get this over with quickly. But then he gave me a big smile and said, “Yes, that’d be great!” He was fine with me praying for him right there in the lobby. I prayed a super quick prayer, and he thanked me. I wished him well on his journey, and then hurried back to catch my bus.
I rushed downstairs and out across the campus to my bus stop and managed to arrive just as the bus, which was running uncharacteristically late, was pulling up. I sat down on the bus and let out a long breath I’d been holding. The pressure was gone, and I felt a sense of peace. I felt good that I’d responded to what Pastor Adam calls a “nudge” from God.
And do you know what happened with that contractor?
I don’t know! I never saw him again.
I wonder if this is how Ananias felt? Did he even know he ended up in the book of Acts?
We serve a good and beautiful God who invites us to minister to others. This God loves so well and knows what the people around us need in the moment. A word of encouragement. A blessing. A humble and hesitant, “I think maybe God wants me to pray for you.” We don’t always know what it’s about, and we can simply be faithful to respond to the nudge we get, trusting that God knows what is needed. And if God is willing to do that for the people around you, God is willing to do that for you too!
It’s an honor to serve the God who sees us!
* Hamilton, Adam, The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul (p. 27). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
** Hamilton, Adam, The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul (p. 28). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.