Acts 9:18-20 ESV “And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened. For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
Have you ever been a place where you thought you were so right only to have your eyes opened to discover you were so wrong? Years ago, my wife and I took the challenge to pastor a small church of people who were incredible. Little did they know how much they taught me as I tried to lead them. I was young and dumb. Coming off an inspirational season where God had confirmed His calling on my life to be a pastor, we discovered this group of people who needed a shepherd.
The church could not pay us much. They gave what they could, and to help meet ends, my wife taught piano. Now looking back, I should have gotten a job and done what many pastors do who are obedient to the call of smaller works. They work another job so they can shepherd. God uses their job to facilitate the calling. Unfortunately, I did not have that understanding, though I know there were people saying, do you really want to do it this way? I was in the dark and did not know it. I thought I was right. I decided to have faith, trust God, and work that field as hard as I could. I was in the church sitting in an office studying, praying, and asking God to make us a mega church fast! Where did it get us? Worn out and broke.
As my wife and I struggled to get things upright, I went to God and asked where He was. I asked Him, why do we have these financial problems when I am working this field so hard. His answer opened my eyes to see something I had never seen before. He said to the ears of my heart, “You don’t have a money problem. You have a marriage problem.” Ouch! Through this, God showed me how out of order I was. While I was trying to be super pastor, my wife was carrying a burden she should not have to carry. This eye-opening experience helped me to learn the trade of painting houses. I thank God for that job every time this season of my life comes to mind. That paint brush was a flashlight of God’s love and provision. While that brush went up and down, God used that time to pull away my blinders. I did not know I was blind to this responsibility, until God lovingly and yes, painfully, showed me.
Paul’s prayers and his worship came from a place of incredible perspective. It is evident he saw things in a way others did not. We see a man transformed by his vision or let’s say lack of. He was blinded to see more clearly. On the road to Damascus, Jesus met the proud, sure of himself, Saul. He was confident that his pursuit of those who followed Jesus was a just and holy cause. He was doing what he thought was right, what was needed, and what was expected of him. But God saw in Saul something that needed to change. He needed to see this Jesus he was persecuting. When we can see Jesus as the old hymn says, everything else grows strangely dim. He is the light that shines in our darkness. Sometimes we just do not recognize we are in the dark.
This story in Acts shows us how Saul, who later became Paul, was put on a trajectory of becoming not only a follower of Jesus, but a servant, or bond slave, as the Bible would say. His life was no longer his own. This change of sight delivered him from his darkness. The pride that blinded fell like scales off his eyes when Ananias prayed for him. He prayed for Paul to see and his vision was never the same again. Though I did not lose my sight, God did change my vision. I wish I could say it has been 20/20 since, but that would not be truthful, but it has been full of His steadfast love and grace. I have learned a little quicker when I need to get my spiritual goggles checked.
When you look at the result of this vision change, we see a man used to pen the majority of the New Testament. He often wrote not from comfort, but from a prison cell. This new love and life Paul found often caused him a great deal of pain, but you would never know it reading his letters to the churches he loved. One is the Church in Ephesus. It is here where we see Paul pray that they would have their vision changed just like Paul. He prayed…
Ephesians 1:17-18 ESV “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,”
Paul asked God to give this church the eyes to see Jesus! One would think he may ask for them to pray that we could get out of jail and be free. But Paul already knew he was free. The prison did not dictate how he saw his life in Jesus. When we are in the dark and like me, we do not even know we are stumbling around, but God loves us so much, He will meet us in the middle of the road. He will shine bright His truth and Jesus will be revealed. When we see Jesus, prison cells and painting houses will never look the same again.