Thursday, February 19th

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.” 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.  Acts 9:3-9

 

Paul didn’t know what hit him.  A flash in the sky, a fall to the ground, and a voice pointing out the ungodliness of what Paul had thought was his highest godly service.  It was, for Paul, anything but another day at the office.

 

The third way that God creates faith in people in the book of Acts is by healing people’s brokenness.  Such healing can be opening up a new perspective on life, teaching a new appreciation for the reach of God’s love, or physically healing for someone suffering.  God gives people a story to tell, they tell it, and their faith plants seeds that grow the faithful.

 

In the 3rd chapter, Peter and John were leaving the temple when they came across a lame man asking for a hand-out.  Peter instead gave him a holy hand-up and the man, who had never walked before, entered the temple “walking and leaping and praising God.”  In his healing, God gave him a story to tell.  In the telling, others came to faith.

 

For Paul, it was his misguided understanding of the Christian movement.  For Peter it was a vision in which God declared all foods clean – opening the door for Peter to understand that the Christian movement truly was intended for all people rather than a particular tribe.  In each case, God gave them stories to tell.  In the telling, others came to faith.

 

God is the source of all life.  God not only gives life but God restores life.  There is clearly a deep mystery here – why does one person receive physical healing while so many others don’t?  Why does one person come to a new understanding and appreciation of God’s movements in the world while others remain clueless?  Who knows?  God alone knows.

 

My sense is that such events are both intensely personal and completely communal.  That is, God healed Paul because God had a bigger purpose in mind for Paul.  It was through Paul but it wasn’t about Paul.  In the same way, when I look back at my own story and remember the day and the night and the week in which my life was turned around, the point seems only to be to give me a story to tell and the desire to tell it.  It wasn’t about me trying to recreate that story in the lives of others. 

 

What this means is that we all have stories to tell.  Because we all have been and continue to be recipients of God’s gracious favor – and as people of faith, the Spirit is opening our eyes to see what others perhaps cannot see.  We all have stories of times that God awakened us to new consciousness, when God helped us see things differently, when God brought various forms of healing into our lives.  That is God’s work and we are no more responsible for it than Paul was in bringing a flashing light out of the heavens.  Our part is to tell our stories.  And in the telling, others might come to faith.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we thank you for the many ways that you bring healing into our lives – healing of our bodies, healing of our broken hearts, healing of our blindness to the brokenness and value of others.  Open our lips that we might tell the stories of our faith to others, that in the telling, our stories might join theirs and your Spirit might birth faith where there was only doubt, loneliness and pain.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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3 Responses to “Thursday, February 19th”

  1. Bill & Nancy Peters Says:

    Thank you for this message; God spoke through you. Nancy is the Volinteer Mission Intrepeter Coordinator for our synode and this devotions helps her with her message. But equally so it helps me with my struggle personnaly. I must refocus my energies to Jesus & telling of the stories of Him in my life & of those that I know (well enough to share properly).
    Again Praise God for this message.
    Bill

  2. marthe Says:

    I too had in interesting “come to Jesus” moment, wrestled with the idea of jumping in with both feet and decided it was the only thing to do– yet have been hesitant always to tell the story. Perhaps now it will come out better and more easily!

  3. Harold Markuson Says:

    Thank you for this weeks devotions on witnessing/evangelism. I just finnished a Diakonia class in practical ministry and I did a paper on krygma(sp?). I wish I had your devotions prior to writing the paper as your explainations and stories match my thoughts and story. These devotions would have made my paper even clearer is expressing my thoughts and experiences. I will be using these devotions to help my church and the NIS synod if I can in our mission and evangelism efforts, God willing. THank you again Hal Markuson

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