10 In Damascus there was a certain disciple named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
He answered, “Yes, Lord.”
11 The Lord instructed him, “Go to Judas’ house on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias enter and put his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 Ananias countered, “Lord, I have heard many reports about this man. People say he has done horrible things to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 He’s here with authority from the chief priests to arrest everyone who calls on your name.”
15 The Lord replied, “Go! This man is the agent I have chosen to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
17 Ananias went to the house. He placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord sent me—Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you were coming here. He sent me so that you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly, flakes fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. He got up and was baptized.
This is part of my favorite story of the New Testament. Ananias was told by God to find Saul of Tarsus and to restore his sight. Ananias had concerns about Saul, but knew God’s voice and obeyed. Meanwhile, Saul was on an earthly mission from the chief priests to get rid of Christ’s followers. He had persecuted believers throughout Jerusalem. Now on the road to Damascus, Christ confronted Saul in a flash of light. Blinded by the light during this conversion, Saul had to be led to Damascus. (See Acts 9:1-9.) Perhaps when Ananias found him praying there, Saul was just beginning to understand “how much he must suffer” and repent in Jesus’ name. Even after Saul’s sight was restored, he was baptized, and he began teaching in Jesus’ name, many Christians would not trust him for some time.
Can you imagine Saul’s conversion? Have you ever gone through your days thinking that you were doing the “right thing” only to have a hard truth revealed through Jesus’ power and words? It turns out that Saul was not the righteous man he thought himself to be. He too was a sinner like everyone else. Saul wasn’t just physically blinded during his encounter with our risen Lord. Saul’s true blindness was also for the heart of God because he wasn’t listening for God’s directions. Saul was blind to the truth of his misdeeds until Jesus Christ set him straight in a showdown on the way to Damascus. And isn’t it also interesting that Ananias finds Saul literally in a house on Straight Street? Oh the irony of God’s grace working all around us! We all need to be set on Straight Street from time to time. Let us pray that Jesus’ words might be the truth that sets us straight in all that we do.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
Who or what may be trying to set you straight today? When Ananias found Saul, his transformation literally started on Straight Street. Encountering Jesus on the way to Damascus was just the beginning. Saul would still need to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness through prayer and baptism. Eventually Saul would be transformed and re-named to become the Apostle Paul, who wrote thirteen books in the New Testament. But that path began first with Saul’s commitment to Christ on a street called Straight. Be open to your own experience of being set straight today!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, make my paths straight. I know I have not always listened to your words. I ask for your forgiveness for the times when I have turned away. Lead me to your universal truth that lives within each of us. Guide my steps to the way of life that is lived for you. Amen.