Read Acts 9
Focus on verse 1-2, 15
A few weeks ago as I was out for my evening stroll with our family dog, I happened to notice what appeared to be an ugly bird sitting on top of a palm tree stump. As we got closer it became apparent that it was not a bird at all, but rather a few scruffy palm fronds sticking out at strange angles. When we had passed the tree I took one more look back just to confirm what it was I had seen, and from this perspective it now looked more like a little elf sitting with legs crossed on the top of the stump. Despite the convincing appearance I knew it was neither a bird nor an elf but a few scraggly palm fronds.
I am always amazed at how perspective can change the way things appear to us. In today’s reading the chapter begins with what appears to be an angry man hell-bent on wiping out every last follower of Jesus from the face of the earth.
But 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 belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (v. 1-2)
On his way to Damascus, Jesus intercepts him and Saul’s perspective on followers of Jesus changes dramatically. (v. 3-9) Then a few verses later we are made aware of the perspective that Ananias had of Saul. (v. 13-14)
In verse fifteen we get the only perspective that really matters,
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. ( v. 15)
God’s perspective of us is often very different from what we imagine it to be. This is true of how we see other people, and it is true of how we see ourselves. Ananias saw Saul as the persecutor of those who followed Jesus – God saw in Saul the exact qualities of a missionary through whom He could transform much of the civilized world. Ananias’ choice to trust God’s perspective of Saul over his own perspective of Saul was a critical part of God’s plan to use Paul to reach much of the civilized world with the gospel.
I am reminded of this when I begin to formulate opinions of people that God brings across my path. I am also reminded of this when I formulate a perspective of myself when God opens doors of opportunity that seem overwhelming to me. If we can learn to trust God’s perspective over our own, and see the world through His eyes, the possibilities of what He might accomplish through us may be surprising.