“You remember the story of what happened on the Road to Damascus,” Stan asked me one morning, “when the man known as Saul of Tarsus had a dramatic encounter with Jesus?”
“A little,” I responded. “Isn’t that where Jesus asked Saul something about why he was persecuting Him?”
“Yeah,” Stan said, “that was part of it. Quick recap. Saul, who later had his name changed and became the apostle Paul, was on his way to Damascus to harass Jews who believed in Jesus. There was a blinding light that knocked Saul to the ground. And out of that light Jesus asked him why he was persecuting Him. Jesus not only interrupted Saul’s journey to Damascus, He interrupted his eternal destination, his life, and everything about him.”
“Dramatic conversion,” I commented. “You ever have anything like that?”
“That sort of dramatic conversion?” Stan asked. “No, my conversion was very gradual. It took me a long time to accept the truth, but once I got to that point and surrendered my life to Christ, it was dramatic in the sense that suddenly I was no longer going to be separated from God for eternity.”
“But,” he continued, “there definitely was and can be a holdover and continuation of my separation from God on this side of eternity.”
“Lots of reasons,” Stan replied. “None of them very good. But remember I’m a slow learner and it took me long time to come to the realization that my acceptance of the finished work of the cross that changed my eternal destination was going to result in many Damascus Road experiences for me.”
“Many Damascus Road experiences?” I said. “How could there be ‘many’?”
“Each time I persecute Jesus by my thoughts, behavior, words, and everything else that reflects anything about my relationship with Him that’s contrary to what’s intended, He asks me the same question.”
“Why you are persecuting Him?” I replied. “Is that the question?”
“It is,” Stan said. “And I can only hear that question if I’m open to listening.”
“What do you think?” Stan asked.
“How about confession and repentance?”
“Good answer, my friend,” Stan replied. “Kind of like what Paul said about not being disobedient to the heavenly vision.”
“Not being disobedient?” I said. “A double-negative equals a positive, so I guess that means being obedient.”
“Another good answer,” Stan replied, “but it’s to be more than just a guess!”
Bible verses to consider:
And it came about that as he journeyed he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Acts of the Apostles 9:3-4.
And it came about that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And I answered, “Who art Thou Lord?” And He said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.” Acts of the Apostles 22:6-8.
I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision. Acts of the Apostles 26:19.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for how you interrupted my journey of being separated from you by your free and gracious provision of life with you eternally when my time here is completed. Thank you, too, for the ways you want to interrupt my walk apart from you on this side of eternity. I confess that too often I do walk apart from you. I do that because that is what I choose. Please forgive all the ways in which I persecute you by my thoughts, words, and actions. And please help me in following every step of your lead into the deepest possible relationship where I walk only as you intend. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you had a “Damascus Road experience” in the sense that you have accepted God’s provision of life eternally with Him, rather than being eternally separated from Him, when your time here is completed? If you have not accepted God’s provision for that, why? What’s in the way? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with not “persecuting” God in Christ on this side of eternity? Are there areas of your life that do “persecute” Jesus, areas in which you sense the need for change? If so, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?