Journey Through Acts.2

by admin on May 31, 2015

Reflections for 31 May 2015
Acts 9:1-20

The Turning Point

We’ve all had them—wrestling around with some significant issue in our lives. Sometimes it involves a sudden change of mind or maybe a more gradual adding the pieces together.

We call it an a-ha experience; seeing the light; now I get it; the turning point. We even call it conversion. Of course, these words only try to grasp the significance of a psychological and moral change of mind, heart and will. The Bible calls this kind of radical change “repentance” and that sounds pretty religious to me.

In fact the whole idea of conversion is religious. To be converted to something means to change your allegiance. It’s like making a U-turn, starting at square one, or going back to the drawing board. We’ve all had those kinds of experiences in many places.

We continue our Journey Through Acts and this morning I would like to talk about conversion. We just heard the story of a rather significant one in the history of Christianity. Saul, one of the early church’s enemies literally sees the light and becomes a follower of Jesus.

He turns out to be St. Paul who later wrote more than half the book we call the New Testament. However outstanding this story may be, Saul’s conversion may not be the model of the way it is “supposed to be.”

Living in Phoenix in another life I had become an unhappy camper. I felt stuck and out of sorts in life. One particular morning I was whining to God about a lot of things. I had my grocery list for prayer. Do this, that and the other. Get around to:—, — and —. As my mind was churning—from out of the blue I distinctly heard a voice that said: “Would you please shut up so I can talk?”

Interesting thing happen when you do just that.

And another interesting in all this is that I hadn’t given much thought to that voice out of the blue until a couple of weeks ago when I ate breakfast with a friend. He shared with me a series of experiences that all occurred separately over several years and that were somewhat coincidental. But when he strung them all together he came to this monumental discovery: there really is a God and he’s active in my life.

It became glaringly apparent to me again that my desert voice telling me to shut-up was opening the door to an entirely new chapter in my life. The same thing was happening to my friend.

A revelation about God and life had occurred. Revelation, of course, is imaged with bright light. We had seen the light.

What was there about God?
—It certainly wasn’t the concept that Shirley McLean or the astrology channel advocates.
—The one who could be manipulated by steering the stars in the right direction or reading your tarot cards on the Internet. God doesn’t have a web site.

—And third God wasn’t about me discovering the possibility of fulfilling my potential if I only sent in $100 in cash to some post office box in Pompano Beach.

“Would you please shut up so I can talk” doesn’t measure up to “Saul, Saul, why so you persecute me?” But the same God was present. The one wholly other than me. A power greater than myself, whose goodness desired to make me good, too.

Sam Shoemaker was an Episcopal priest serving a parish in the Big Apple in the 30s, 40s. He was a man of immense practicality when talking about Christianity. He said that God cannot use a channel that is not open. How many times in my own life have I closed that channel?

We hear today the story of Saul, one conversion among many in the early church. The way it happened to him is not the only way. But four elements are present in every act of conversion—from a dramatic knock-you-to-the-ground to a gradual “now I understand.”

1. A break with conscious wrong. Either sin controls us, or God does. The idea of sin is the great truth that I would like to be in charge. Your life would be happier if I ran it. And you think the same about me.

2. The need to put life’s major decisions in God’s hands. This means everything. So many of us want to keep matters of vocation, even marriage and relationships purely private, as our own choice and decision. That just isn’t true. Seek out God’s direction for your life.

3. The need to learn how to witness. This means telling someone else about your relationships with and experience of Jesus Christ. For most of us the truth about Jesus will only begin to be real as we come to see how He can help us with our immediate life situation.

In Saul’s story there is room for skepticism. Ananias, a righteous man is afraid to go to Saul. But God paves the way with these words: Saul is my chosen instrument to do my will.

The word “instrument” means clay pot. Fashioned by the potter to be filled to overflowing again and again with the forgiving love of God. C.f. 2 Cor 4.

And this is the fourth element of conversion. The surprising act of God’s forgiveness that invite us beyond feeling good to being good. Ananias, a believer is converted, too. Likewise we must also be ready to be surprised by God’s transformation of our enemies into brothers and sisters.

God cannot use a channel that is not open.
Are you at a turning point in life? Stuck someplace between the unhappy past and the insecure future? Is there a light blasting its way through the darkness? Or are you reaching the gradual conclusion that there’s more to this God stuff than what you heard as a kid?

This week, open your channel by praying every day: God I offer myself to you to build with me and do with me as you wish. And, of course, see what happens.

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