As hesitant as I am to admit, this charge from the Lord scared the living daylights out of me. After we had had time to process what the Lord had spoken to us, I couldn’t help but ponder on the instrumental role that Ananias had played in Paul's story.
Acts 9 tells us that Saul had been persecuting Jews, killing them, and doing so in the name of the Lord. However, the Lord intervened and spoke to Saul on his way to Damascus. He convicted him of the persecution of His people and, leaving him blind, instructed him to enter Damascus. There, the Lord spoke to Ananias regarding Saul. Ananias was a man that, before that day, Saul would have persecuted and killed had he had the chance. The Lord instructed Ananias to go and to lay hands on Saul, restoring his sight so that the Lord could use him to proclaim His very name to the Gentiles.
Ananias protested at first, and secretly, I’m pleased that he did! After all, Saul was responsible for the deaths of many who shared his own prerogative. Yet, Ananias was steadfast, and obedient to the charge of the Lord. Because of his obedience, another was saved — Saul, who would become Paul. Ananias took hold of what the Lord instructed him, and a movement was set into motion. The works of the Kingdom followed swiftly as Saul took on a new purpose.
With great obedience comes great reward, not just for ourselves, but for those around us. I was reminded that to walk into the proclamation the Lord had spoken over us, would mean that so many others would come to know our Savior as we did.
Is there something God has asked you to do, but you’re frozen in fear today? Maybe it’s changing your career, starting a ministry, or sacrificing part of your weekend to help someone in need.
Jesus is inviting us to take part in His great mission. We will never know how much hangs in the balance of our obedience (or lack thereof). Imagine if Ananias had responded to the Lord with “no.”
If we, as His disciples, remain obedient and ready ourselves, how much more can be done for the Kingdom? Let’s set our minds on obedience to Christ’s mission to “go and make disciples of all nations”. The benefit to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the Kingdom, is endless.
This faith-testing season of hardship felt like an inescapable fire. It reminds me of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s much more literal scenario.
In Daniel 3, King Nebuchadnezzar decreed for all under his command to kneel and worship the false god he had created. Any who refused would suffer death by the fiery furnace. Now, there were three Jews - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - who refused to bow down to the false god because of their faith. Despite his admiration for the three servants, the King wasted no time demanding they be bound and thrown in. The fire was so hot that it killed the guards who threw them in.
However, the King had to check his eyes when he saw them unbound and walking freely within the fire. Not only that, but there was clearly another man in the fire with them, who resembled the Son of God. King Nebuchadnezzar called them out of the furnace, and they stood before him unscathed. They didn’t smell of smoke, and not even a single hair on their heads was frayed.
Though they walked through this fire, that had been set to burn seven times hotter than usual, they came out untouched by the flames. There, in the fire, they had experienced what few others had before— the physical presence of the Lord.
As Christ-followers, when we’re faced with our own fiery furnaces, we can be reminded that we are never alone. There is always Another in the fire with us, guiding us, hearing us, and protecting us. When we find ourselves toe-to-toe with the challenges of life, there stands a holy comfort in knowing that we can hold unswervingly to the hand of Jesus.
Friend, does life lately feel like a furnace? Rest in the comfort of knowing there is no fire that can stop the very presence of Jesus. He is with you, whether you see it right now or not. He is working on your behalf, and you will come out the other side not even smelling of smoke.
We can know, standing in unshakeable faith, that the fires of this life are, undoubtedly, no match for the God we serve.
If we’ll allow Him, God is always faithful to remind us. In my struggle, He brought to mind a people who had suffered far greater on their journey through the wilderness. In Exodus 32 and 33, the Israelites were in the waiting of a promise that God had given them – to be delivered into a land flowing with milk and honey. They had been promised their rainbow after the storm of generations of slavery, just as I had been promised a life-bearing womb.
However, in their long wait for Moses to come down from the mountain, they grew impatient, turning away from THE God and turning to false ‘gods’ to worship. They had momentarily lost their faith and spiritual sight, which, in turn, caused a domino effect of confusion, turmoil, and hardship.
Have you ever been so caught up in waiting for a promise that you lose sight of the Promise Maker? Have you ever become so impatient that you turn to physical means to try and make it happen?
When our spiritual eyes become muddied and our patience tested, it becomes easier to look to the visible false gods around us, and rely on the false hope they bring. It’s easy to forget Who it is that made us these promises in the first place.
Hebrews 10:23 tells us to hold “unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). What is forever humbling about our Promise Maker in Heaven, is that He is also very much the Promise Keeper. Not even once has He spoken a word that He has not also brought into fruition.
In our waiting, hoping, and bold expectation, God answered. After what seemed like an eternity of ups and downs, our promise was abundantly filled. In June of 2020 we welcomed our sweet baby boy, Matthew. That, my friends, is nothing but another miraculous testament to the faithfulness of the Promise Keeper we serve.
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