I love stories. One of my favorite memories as a child is my parents’ reading me bedtime stories. Some of my favorites were “Sam and the Firefly,” “The Firecat,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “The Bike Lesson.” I can hear my mom’s soft voice and my dad trying to do voices.
If you are not familiar with these books; well, bless your heart.
One of the reasons, I preach has to do with my love for stories. The Bible is full of great stories. Some of them are also among my favorites: Noah, Isaac and Esau, Moses, The young boy Samuel, the many adventures of David, Solomon’s early years, Elijah at Mt Carmel, Balaam and the donkey, many accounts in the life of Jesus, as well as the stories of people following Jesus and turning to His way. I can hear my parent’s reading those stories. There was a slight difference when they read these stories. Something in their tone let me know these were more than fairy tales and fiction. Early in my life, I saw that these stories had an impact on my parents.
On to the story.
As he walked about the capital city, he saw people tipping the scales, so to speak, in their direction. Always trying to cheat the system. Customers would negotiate for the lowest price, store owners would inflate prices and rig the scales. Everyone yelled and everyone felt cheated.
Men and women alike were looking for companionship for the night, not concerned about tomorrow. The addicts filled the streets, their temporary fixes, were . . . well, just that . . . temporary. Homeless and hungry people begged for handouts – they preferred cash, but would take food. Had selfishness lead people to this?
“No,” he said to himself. These people had abandoned law and order. They were neglecting the constitution that gave true life to his country. Their downfall was self-reliance and not reliance on the Godly morality passed down from The Forefathers. He was proud that he was one of the few conservatives who followed the principles laid down by those who established this great nation.
These poor people were not the greatest threat. There was a new, radical ideology emerging. A claim that his teachers at law school were wrong about how they interpreted the National Constitution. Just a few years ago lawyers like him lead an effort to end this ideology. They had the spokesman arrested, accused of treason, sentenced, and permanently silenced. They hoped this would end this subversive movement. But others picked up where he left off and the message was spreading.
He watched firsthand as violence escalated against one advocate of this new movement, this new way of looking at life. The violence reached a fever pitch and resulted in the death of the radical. He heard what the man said, and he was as angry as the mob. He approved of their actions. This radicalism had to stop! Such teaching would ruin his country.
A fire burned in him. He wanted to do all he could to stop the spread of this dangerous message. He applied for a governmental position that would allow him to help end this . . . rebellion. That’s what it he would call it. Rebellion against the Forefathers, rebellion against the law, and the worst crime of all rebellion against God who established this nation as He guided the Forefathers.
Saul had letters from the chief leaders to travel to Damascus and arrest and put to death those that followed the Way (of Jesus the so-called Christ). While he journeyed something strange occurred. He met Jesus – literally and supernaturally. He came face to face with the Christ. After this encounter he traveled on to Damascus, blinded by the experience. There he spent time in prayer. He realized how wrong his choices were to that point. He was no different that those living for themselves. He was doing the same thing.
A preacher named Ananias visited Saul three days later. Ananias told him more about this Jesus. Saul tells the story better that I do:
“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ “(Act 22:12-16)
Life changed for Saul. Life was not always easier, in truth life was sometimes difficult, very difficult. But for Saul, whom many called Paul, life was better. Better because he knew the One he believed and this persuaded him that the Christ would keep His end of the promise to keep and provide for him. No more living for self. No more hurting others. No more hate. Only love.
What is your story?
Are you living for self?
There was a time when I did. But no more. My life is for God. Christ is my life. I live by God’s Spirit and not my own flesh. I am not perfect, I still fall back into old habits in moments of weakness, but by Grace God forgives.