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.” (Acts 9:1 – 6)

The “meanwhile” disarms me. And then the phrase “breathing threats and murder” sounds so like Saul who became Paul. No longer “breathing threats and murder” but preaching with the same fervor; the same fervor he had for persecution, he also used in pleading for those he preached to and converted to live good Christian lives.

I want to raise a point here, beloved reader, and herald a change that I am making. I had said not that many days ago that I want to honor faith traditions that profess compassion and care for others. There has been some discussion and conversation in my faith tradition about emphasizing Jesus and His presentation of what the Divine is like . . . . Messiah the Christ who came to represent Christianity. Since Christianity has taken several dramatic right and left turns in the past decade, some are focusing on the man/Divine Son of the Lord and taking their life orientation from His example. So, you may see me less often describing faith, traditions, life, and journeys as “Christian”. For myself, I claim Christianity and use that as my lens to understand the bible. But I am from a time long ago (it seems) where the goal Christianity was to live out one’s life as Jesus exemplified it. So I am, I guess, seeing both sides in the debate in my faith tradition.

Another part of that is seeing the different between my faith tradition in the United States and in Canada. Several decades ago my faith tradition merged and then divide along geographical lines. So I found myself feeling more akin to the Canadian side but living on the United States side. This is not a unique phenomenon, denominations dividing and then re-assembling themselves in a different flavor. However, I am aware we have left Saul dangling, and sitting beside of the road to Damascus.

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.” (Verses 7 – 10)

My first thought after reading the above passage was, “Not the triumphal entrance that Saul was probably hoping for.” And it occurred to me – that parallels to Jesus very well. Jesus came in on a donkey colt, and not the fiery charger that some would have imagined and desired. Sometimes you have to be humbled and brought low so that you can see things from the Divine’s perspective.

“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.” (Verses 11 – 14)

Did you take note of that, beloved reader? Ananias evidently did not profess belief and faith in the same Lord that Saul had. Like my perspective on some people who profess a Christianity I do not understand; nor do I feel it is a faith that aligns with the Jesus that I know. I have faith though that the Divine uses all things and all people to bring about what ought to be. So, I think, did Ananias.

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. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” (Verses 15 – 20)

Two more things, then I am done. “Scales fell from his eyes” and he could see clearly what the disciples and apostles had known – Jesus was from God and is God. How familiar is that story; that what one once thought was right and true is revealed as not right and contrary to what is best. That is just as true for perspective and lenses of understanding. Unfortunately the opposite can also happen. Some one or some group is blinded to what is actual and right, and instead pursues wrong objectives and agenda. Even more unfortunately – both sides claim that it has happen to them & to others, respectively. Those scale-like things clear and obscure the world around us.

My hope & prayer, beloved reader, is that you use the Holy Presence to see clearly; and that you follow in the way of Jesus who thought it better to lead by Divine example. Shalom & Selah!