Sunday, 8 June 2014

Nightmare on Straight Street.

Ananias was a great old guy - dedicated to Jesus and I imagine, living a pretty isolated life. After all every Christian in Damascus wore a target on their back and was open to persecution.

But first lest flip back to where the story begins..

Saul, later Paul, had just witnessed and condoned the murder of Stephen - the Godly new-elected 'deacon' of the first church - Stephen a man filled with the Holy Spirit was stoned to death for 'offending' the Pharisees and church elders because He preached Jesus, crucified and risen again for the salvation of the world.

Good old Saul liked the fact that here was yet another of those new fangled  "Christians" finally out of the way and a good job too.

That obviously spurred Saul on because in the next scene here he is with new vigour chasing down Christians, throwing them into prisons, torturing and murdering them - nice guy.

On the way to Damascus a miracle occurred and Saul was miraculously transformed by the sovereignty of God who halted his plans in one fell swoop.

Here we find Saul, the Chief opponent to Christianity being transformed into it's primary proponent! - In the process Saul was rendered blind, not only by the blinding light that accompanied his conversion but by the awesome power of God.

Lead by his friends to Straight Street, here he remained for three days, blind and not eating or drinking - I guess in a state of shock! - God had literally taken him and shaken him out of his so-called piety and told him exactly what was going to happen.

Meanwhile back in Damascus, here was Ananias virtually in hiding and I can imagine' so too was his family - They had obviously heard that Saul and his cohorts were on the march, rounding up Christians and turning them over to the authorities.

So in hiding they stayed - fearful yet trusting God. Then out of the blue a message from God Himself!!

"Get up and go to Straight Street, find a guy named Saul of Tarsus, lay hands on him so that he can receive his sight" GULP...

"Did you say Saul of Tarsus?" I can hear Ananias say - "that same Saul that has been rounding up the Christians? - I have heard of this man - he has done much harm, Lord, he has come here on the authority of the Chief Priests to arrest us!"

He must have been thinking as I hear his heart beating...

"Oh No! this is a nightmare" - "Straight Street - that's obviously where all the Christian persecutors hang out - I will be going straight into the lions den - I may as well stick my head straight in the lions mouth!" - God has got confused or forgotten what this terrorist has done - I can't put myself in this position!"

Poor Ananias, showed a bit of weak faith here - didn't trust God implicitly - A bit like me actually, when I put myself in his position, knowing what he knew, I figure I would have asked the same question, maybe even ignored the command.

But Ananias was told by God "Go! I have chosen this very man to carry my name to the gentiles."

Ananias obeyed, right to very letter - he went to Straight Street, I can just imagine him knocking on the door - so timidly, fearful yet strangely confident knowing that whatever happened, God was with him.

He found Saul, broken and contrite, blind and confused - Ananias did what he was told to do and Saul received his sight, when something like 'scales' fell from his eyes.

Saul immediately went about his mission and spent days with the disciples in Damascus, and I assume Ananias was there as well, but here Ananias's story ends - he fades from the picture.

Ananias's role is small but vitally important to the whole event. A man who questioned God, maybe going as far as to correct God but was obedient in the end.

When you think about it, Ananias's obedience launched the greatest ministry of all times - millions of people have come to know Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.

When I think of Ananias and his act of obedience it sort of puts into perspective all small acts of obedience by God's people - even when those acts seem so contrary to human understanding.

We never see the big picture, we only have to rely on and trust God implicitly as Ananias did. God will never let us down.

So Ananias's "nightmare on Straight Street," brought in a such huge harvest for God and turned his personal 'nightmare' into a dream fulfilled; greater than he ever knew.

Obedience to God no matter what the cost.  We are called to simply trust and obey His word.













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