Picking up this writing, as if I have always done it; that's how I feel... I wrote in my teenage years... then nothing until the birth of my kids. Writing for you all and with some of you - this journey blows me away.
My friends have said they had no idea I could, they are surprised I share so much. I am surprised just as much as you are. The personal conversations, the encouragements, the love and the relationships I am blessed to be apart of fill my love cup to overflowing!
What does a relationship with God look like? A little overflowing, I think. Moments that steal your breath, catching it between breathe and almost in tears. Someone needs to read that tonight. Do you wonder why I follow Christ? Do you wonder why we decided to turn our kids over to God and trust that he has it all mapped out?
Personal relationship. Somehow He gives me what I need, all of the time. Even when He looks like He's not there... He is and I am exactly where I need to be. That doesn't make it easy to understand all of the time... sometimes, there is just no understanding.
In prayer my journey has lead me to begin to learn about the Apostle Paul. Just in the beginning unwrapping this Biblical Giant! Paul who wrote 13 possibly 14 books of the Bible... Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon and possibly Hebrews. Paul who wrote these books of the Bible between 52 and 67 AD. Just throwing these facts in...
Paul... who is Paul... I have often wondered why the Apostle Paul had to become blind take up his calling and follow Jesus... to believe... Paul is Saul.
Acts 9:1-9 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 speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
The Apostle Paul is Saul of Tarsus. Paul never changed his name but rather needed to relate to different groups of people. He was a Jew, a Pharisee.
The name Saul is Hebrew which means asked for, prayed for, borrowed. Paul is Latin. Right now Saul interests me because I have been in prayer with my personal journey, asking for guidance and strength and courage.
Diving in I happened upon... and I say happened lightly because nothing really just happens with God, it's all planned. I came to find Paul's prayer for knowing God's will; a prayer which I need.
Colossians 1:9-14 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do
not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will and all wisdom and spiritual understanding. That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience, and longsuffering with Joy. Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of his Love, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.
I needed to read these... processing these words this way.
I need help to understand, why... why... why haunts me. Why doesn't matter. Really. God's will. Instead, I pray that I too will be filled with the knowledge of his will and wisdom and spiritual understanding. I want to walk worthy... being fruitful... strengthened with all might according to HIS GLORIOUS POWER (because I am powerless without him). Giving thanks that HE has delivered me from the power of darkness... redeemed through Christ's blood and forgiveness of sins.
Along this study... my Father, who, in another life was a completely different man... a man who made life hard, who made believing in God hard... who was worth giving up on some days (though my mom, through faith was the only one who didn't) read the following passage aloud... which was a moment for me... a moment of, almost, his own confession.
1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
And forgiveness comes. For Paul... and for my Dad... and for me... and for you...
Yes, Paul was the chief sinner. He persecuted Christians, killed them even...hunted them. The fact he petitioned to have Christians sought and brought back so that he could punish them for their beliefs... the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7. Bad dude right... chief sinner... wouldn't disagree with that. However, as a Pharisee he believed he was doing it in the name of religion, keeping to the law of his forefathers. He believed he was doing what was right...
How often do we feel like that? How often do we feel like we have been too bad or are too far gone for God's unfailing, undeniable love? That we have to get rid of the bad stuff before we can come before God and say... I am sorry,
thank you for your Son... and I believe... How often to we feel like we have to get it all together before we can accept this free gift of Grace... God's Grace, that's what it's all about.
I don't want to forget about Saul of Tarsus... on the road... now blind. Because, as if I wasn't blown away to begin with... I read more... Ananias...
Acts 9:10-12 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." and he said, "Here I am Lord". So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to a street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. "And in the vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him so that he might receive his sight."
So I sat, reading... wondering what was all that about... why so specific about the street name, the house of Judas... the vision that Saul had, kneeling in prayer.... I researched the street name, pretty common in those days. Nothing important about that... The house of Judas... dead end in all my searches...
Then I Googled... Why is Acts 9:10-12 so specific...
And read... it wasn't the facts... rather... the facts were the answer. Reading on in the passage it became clear.
Acts 9:13-18 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm has he done to Your saints in Jerusalem. "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel. "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." And Ananias went his way and entered the house, and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me so that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.: Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
The facts, I learned were for Ananias... to calm him along the mission that God had sent him on. Ananias did not understand... maybe was in disbelief at the task set before him... but took the Lord's words and walked with them... and it all unfolded as God said it would.... Provision!
Back to Paul... Saul becoming blind... so that he could see.... Grace!
All of this blows me away!
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your provision in this life. Foremost, for your Son who gave his life on the cross for me, to pay for my sins. To save me from the power of darkness, by the Glorious Power that is in Christ Jesus. Thank you for these words and this study. I am blown away by your love and grace that you would save a sinner like Saul. Like my dad... like me... for those that will believe... who will call upon the name of the Lord, turn from their sins and follow the truth of your Son. Please continue to grow this girl in your right word, that I may seek after you in all I do... to be fruitful for your purposes. That I may set aside what I think, what I believe in my human mind and focus your truth. Your words still me, calm me, guide me, catch my breath and I am humbled. Thank you for your love, grace and teaching. Amen.