Last Sunday in worship, our first reading focused on the conversion of Saul, a feared persecutor of Christians, to Paul, the foremost of Christian missionaries. You can read his "Road to Damascus" story in Acts 9:1-20. On Sunday we read it and talked about it a little bit in a children's message at 11 AM but, beyond that, the Gospel reading got most of our attention. However, reflecting on that text since that time, I thought about the following:
- How Paul must have felt like a failure as a religious leader and, at least initially, how so much of his training was in vain.
- How much guilt Paul must have wrestled with for everything he had done to the Christian community and how difficult it must have been to have his whole way of looking at faith and the world around him turned upside down.
- How terrifying it must have been to have lost his vision and to be completely dependent on people who saw him as threat and enemy
- How it is not only Paul who is changed by this experience but also Ananias, the rest of the Apostles, and eventually, by Paul's writings and the Holy Spirit, the whole Church.
There are times in our lives where much of what we once believed is turned upside down. Times when we do not see the world around us very clearly. Times when we must learn to trust even when it is really difficult. Times when we feel like our work has been in vain. Times when we feel like complete failures.
But like Paul, sometimes when we fail, we change. And when we change, we grow. And then others change too. Sometimes when we fail, we actually become more resilient or more appreciative. And sometimes out of the dust of failure comes new directions, new growth, new maturity, new life.
We have a God who creates light out of darkness, order out of chaos, and life out of the dust. In the seasons of life to come, may God raise you up out of those dusty places that you may come to trust that God is with you and for you and going ahead of you that you may know with confidence that you are not alone, that failure is not the ending, and that there are new chapters to be written by God's grace. Continue the journey. Trust the promise.
Grace and Peace,