In this next installment in the "Go and . . ." series, we look at the Apostle Paul's encounter with the Lord when he was still Saul and while he was "still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples" (Acts 9:1). It surprises me that the Lord appeared to Saul not to rebuke him but to reveal his Saul's purpose, which was to take the gospel to the Gentiles. We read this account of Saul's Damascus Road experience:
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do" (Acts 9:3-5).
Luke's account in Acts seems to indicate that the Lord said little to Saul directly, but rather told him he would received his marching orders from someone in the city where he was heading. Later in Acts, Paul gives this account of the story, which would have occurred about 20 years after what we read in Acts 9:
“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me'" (Acts 26:15-19).
The narrative in Acts 26 seems to indicate that the Lord said much more than what we saw in Acts 9, but there is a simple explanation for this. In Acts 26, Paul was not going to allow his story to bog down in the details. He had a window of opportunity to witness to the king, so he eliminated unnecessary details. In reality, the Lord spoke to Saul through His servant Ananias, who also had a "go and" moment: "But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:15-16).
Here are some lessons to consider from this "go and" story.
- Sometimes we must go and then we will get more information. Usually, we want the information before we will go.
- God reveals purpose in His time, but when He does, it is often an event that leaves us shaken, requiring time to sort things out.
- While it is good to hear from the Lord, it is also easier to ignore His voice. Thus, He sends His servants to tell us what He wants us to do.
- The light of purpose can be so bright that it can disorient us, creating our need for people to take us by the hand and guide us.
It is commendable if your thinking is, "I want and need to hear from the Lord," but then don't box God in as to how He will speak to you. He will use other people, your curiosities, and life circumstances to reveal His purpose. You must have faith that He is not trying to trick or mislead you and go. Once you get up and go, God gives you more information and clarity, but only if you have a "go and" attitude. When you do, God is on the journey with you, and you will have everything you need to carry out His purpose for your life. Have a blessed week!