Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 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.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there amazed; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.
These last 11 months my BSGs have completed four different Bible studies. We have to laugh now after every question that asks something along the line of, “What does God expect of us?” The answer is always to obey. If only we humans could figure that part out. Yes, at times Jesus’ teachings seem a bit fuzzy. In fact, during His last few hours His disciples were very confused.
At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”John 16:17
And as Jesus continues in John 16: 28 with, “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father,” the disciples reply with “Ah, now you are speaking plainly!” So often we may think that Jesus is only the figurative speaker. And we need to pray on and discern what He may truly want from us. But by studying the Word and therefore the character of Jesus we find His is more the plain speaker than not.
When Jesus told Saul, “Now get up and go into the city” there were no ifs, ands, or buts. Do it. Obey. Yes, Saul had the choice to do it or not. Thankfully, he listened and obeyed Jesus’ amazing directive. Twice I have had God speak to me in very loud, definitive terms. Once in hearing His actual voice convicting me to true action in my spiritual life. And once in a vision directing me to do His works. And I obeyed. And yet there are many, many other times when I have heard His quieter voice directing me and I questioned or even ignored Him.
How many times has He clearly told you to stop and speak to someone and you refused? How many times has you told you exactly what you need to do to lose weight, stop smoking, stop hating, stop doing something destructive and start living out His Word? In one of my Bible studies this week a friend told me of a vision she once had. Her relationship with Jesus has been tumultuous because of family issues. She leans a lot on Eastern religions. In this vision she was being loved as a baby and coddled by the Dali Lama. And then Jesus approached and the Dali Lama handed her over to Jesus. She screamed “NO!” What I found so fascinating about this and all the times I, myself, have refused to obey, is how we humans so easily place ourselves above the Divine. You realize that is exactly what we do when we ignore the amazing directives of Jesus? We think we know better. But we can never see the whole story of our lives. We can never fully understand how interconnected all our actions or inactions are and the impact they may make.
About three months ago my friend Caroline was asked to obey an amazing Jesus directive. While walking through the patio at church she saw a young woman sitting by herself. Jesus said, “Go talk to her.” Now, my friend is not some uber, outgoing person so this made her feel a little uncomfortable. But because of the Bible study we were doing at the time she said, “ok” and sat down with the young woman. During the conversation she found out that this young woman, who recently moved from out of town to go to college nearby, was in fact a college classmate of her own daughter. She passed along her daughter’s phone number. The tasks being obeyed, the young woman and my friend went about their lives. Fast forward to yesterday. This is the text my friend received from that young woman:
“Hi!! I know this seems so random but I’m actually heading back to Hawaii for Thanksgiving until January and I’ve just been doing a lot of reflecting on all the amazing people I met here in the last 3 months and feeling so grateful! I just wanted to say thanks for reaching out to me that one night, I remember feeling kind of uncomfortable but it was so special and such a gift from God that I was able to chat with you and see that we had so many connections already!! Anyways, just wanted to say thank you again and I’m so appreciative of that time that you took to chat with me!”
My friend obeyed Jesus’ directive of a simple act of hospitality and a life was changed.
Trusting God means looking beyond what we can see to what God sees.Life Principle 9, Charles F. Stanley
Jesus says to, “Follow me.” It’s an opportunity for us to obey. And as my faith journey this year has evolved, I realized my growth spurts have come each time I have listened to an amazing directive and obeyed. Each time my trust grows is each time His trust in me grows. Yes, His trust in me. Because until we can be trusted to obey His small directives, like helping the person in the grocery store parking lot, He won’t entrust with something bigger. And I don’t know about you but I want Jesus to trust me enough that I will do His amazing works till the end of my days.
Today when you hear that whispered directive from Jesus, obey. You know His voice. You know His character. He and satan are clearly differentiated. So stop questioning Him. Obey.