I really relate to Moses’ reaction when God told him to go confront Pharaoh. It wasn’t just a matter of “let me sleep on it”. Moses’ response was an immediate “But, Lord…!” In fact, one translation records around five ‘buts’ in the same conversation!
I’m so thankful God is patient.
Contrast that with a follower of the up and coming Christian religion. His name was Ananias. News might not have traveled quite as quickly as it does now, but we can tell something had reached Ananias’ ears concerning a man named Saul, and his treatment of the people of The Way.
“Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.”
So there Ananias is, minding his own business, when God taps our erstwhile hero on the shoulder to deliver a personal invitation to this rabid Pharisee…
“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”
Only one, “but, Lord”. Impressive. God, in His mercy, pats His servant on the back with a few words of encouragement.
“So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me…”
Ananias calls this infamous malcontent “brother” based solely on God’s recommendation, completely against everything he has heard about the man up to this point. Equally impressive, and some lessons are to be observed:
Acceptance does not mean approval.
I’m well entrenched in the “Show Me” state of Missouri. Unfortunately, however, “showing fruits in keeping with repentance” and “study to show yourself approved rightly handling the gospel of truth” tend to be concepts that the 21st century American church like to keep on the back shelf.
On the other hand, Saul, (who changed his name to Paul after his conversion), stayed with the believers and risked his own life in the synagogue to the point that they had to help him escape his former bosses by lowering him in a basket over the town wall! Paul was loved and accepted into the family, but trust came from proving his character by his observable behaviors and decisions.
Courage to act.
I can only imagine that Ananias needed more than a little courage to put his faith into practice. Sure, he had experienced a clear and specific vision from God, but if he is anything like me (like most of us?) there had to be that sneaky little voice from back in Genesis saying “Hath God really said…?” And it’s a good thing for all of us that Ananias obeyed, Paul writing more than half the New Testament and all.
A strong link.
Interestingly, we don’t hear anything about Ananias in the rest of the Bible, not even from Paul in any of his writings. Ananias was ‘merely’ a link between the old and the new. Now, if it had been someone in our 21st century what-about-me culture, he might be tempted to compete for a place in the spotlight. But that’s not what God had in mind for this faithful disciple.
We tend to think of a wrecking ball as doing the big demolition, but it would be impotent without the strong links of chain that hold it up. Paul was a great wrecking ball against Satan’s kingdom, but he needed each link of the chain to do that work effectively.
Minding my own business and staying out of trouble. I rather like that plan, until God taps my shoulder and points in a different direction way out of my comfort zone.
How many “but, Lords” will He get from me?
Acts 13:1,13-14,17 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.