In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 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.” Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:10-17
In Matthew 5, Jesus challenges us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. At first, this teaching sounds incredibly humble and beautiful. After reading this story of Ananias above, the rubber meets the road. Loving our enemies is easy until you have an enemy. Saul is one of the greatest threats to the church and Ananias is a follower of Jesus. Here we have God challenging him to love Saul tangibly. I want us to think about the question; what do we do with the anxiety that often comes when trying to obey God?
This story is so helpful in answering that question. Ananias brings his doubt and fear to God in prayer. God is gracious and gentle in his dialogue with Ananias in this text. Perhaps that is part of the point of it all. Yes, God wanted to accomplish something through Ananias, but he also seems to use the tension to help Ananias grow and learn to listen to him.
What steps of obedience are on your horizon? Is there fear related to them? Are there questions that you have? Bring them to God today. I suspect that the conversation is one part of what God is after anyway.
By Aaron Bjorklund