Putting Action To Your Vision
We've examined how Saul and Ananias placed themselves in submitted positions to receive their vision. We talked about how they listened to understand what they should do with their vision. Today and this week, we look at what Saul and Ananias did with the vision God gave them.
Obedience Above Ourselves
Last week we saw where both Saul and Ananias talked with God as they listened to His vision for each of them. Once the talking was over, though, all that was left was action. They had seen and heard from God. What would they do with the vision they had been given?
Saul's story post vision starts out in darkness. He loses his sight and is forced to rely on the men who traveled with Him. Fortunately, they had heard the vision as well (Acts 9:7). These men led Saul to exactly where God told him to go (v.8). From there he waited 3 days. 3 DAYS! For some requests and situations, waiting 3 days doesn't seem too bad, but not having the ability to see for 3 whole days?! Saul had to be a little miserable because he refused to eat or drink, a sign of mourning as much as it is humility before God. Worse, Saul had no guarantee of when God was going to send the messenger He had promised (v.6). Some signs in the Bible came years after God had given them. Would Saul have to wait years just to find out what he must do with no guarantee of returning of his sight? Yet, Saul waited and hoped.
Will we continue to pursue what God reveals to us, even when it takes something we perceive as necessary to us? Saul's sight was tied to his mindset. He looked at Christians and saw blasphemers and idolaters. God had to change his view. What is preventing us from seeing things the way God wants us to see them? Is it possessions? Do we have things in our lives that prevent us from going after what God wants for us? Are our houses, jobs, debts, etc. preventing us from taking the necessary step in our walk with God? Is it our ideology? Do we have biases, perceptions, hangups, etc that prevent us from stepping out and being God's vision fully? Are we going to let our view of ourselves and the world around us prevent us from fulfilling God's calling and purpose in our lives? Or are we willing to let him take it all from us (even if it is temporary) so that we might see His vision clearly?
As we'll see later, Saul's time in darkness was not spent in complete mourning, but was done in repentance and transformation. When God follows up the blessing of a vision with the removal of something from our lives, we can't look at it with woe and despair. Why me mentalities don't reveal the answer to what are we here for. In that time of removal, we should draw near to God and let him work on the transformation we'll need to fulfill His vision for us.
Immediately Instead of Eventually
Meanwhile, Ananias was just finishing up his question and answer session with God. His concerns set at ease by God, he whipped out his 30 day planner and penciled in Saul for the following Thursday. Not quite. Ananias left his meeting with God and went directly to his meeting with Saul (v.17). Ananias may have had errands to run. He may have had a job to do. He may have even had some work to do in the local church. Yet, when God showed up and gave him direction, that command took precedence.
Many people desire to hear from God. When God speaks and directs, though, even when it is something we want to hear, our timidity, fears and inadequacies seem to crop up immediately and attempt to tear us down. This isn't a coincidence and it's not just butterflies. It's the enemy trying to drown out God's influence in your life. One of his best tactics is to get us to say eventually rather than no. If he can get us to put off God's immediate will for a minute, an hour, a day, he'll eventually get us to never do what God wants. When God calls us to act, we have to be willing to go all in from the start or we'll never get in.
Ananias expressed his concerns, some of which came from a place of fear probably, but his faith in God trumped the fear the enemy had presented. Do we have faith that can overcome whatever tactics the devil and his minions throw our way? Will we overcome him and operate immediately within God's planned purpose for us? God has a lot of great tools for defeating the enemy and accomplishing His purpose for our lives, but none is greater than faith. It's the tool that moves mountains from your path. It's the tool that can grow from a grain to a tree. It's the tool that gives us the authority to cast out devils, lay hands on the sick and speak life to the dead. It's what allows us to do greater things than Christ did on (John 14:12).
When Ananias entered into the house where Saul was sitting, he laid hands on Saul, spoke over him exactly what God said to do, and Saul was immediately healed and filled with the Holy Ghost. Saul had already turned to God before Ananias had entered the home. The purpose of having Ananias there to meet Saul was twofold:
To show and confirm to Saul that Christ's followers were not the enemy
Saul could not have fulfilled salvation requirements without Ananias there
Let's look at point one, first. Saul may have had an encounter with Christ, but he had yet to interact with a Christian since his vision. God wanted to create a bond between Saul and the rest of his followers. Ananias represented that bond. Without Ananias, Saul wouldn't have had someone to vouch for him in Damascus and thus he would have been completely on his own. Had this happened, he would have most likely been killed by his former brethren. God is going to give us an opportunity to fellowship ourselves to others in Christ or bring others to fellowship with us in Christ. His purpose and plan is to connect people to Him and we are lines that link the lost and dying world to Jesus.
Now let's tackle the second point. Saul clearly had repented by the time Ananias showed up because he was following Christ's orders and not his own path anymore. His lack of eating and drinking showed signs of remorse for transgressions and his patience in waiting showed that he was positioned to receive from God. However, his conversion was not yet complete. Saul had yet to receive the infilling of the Holy Ghost and he had not been baptized in Jesus Name as was commanded (Acts 2:38). Ananias was their to see both of these items fulfilled and they were. If you have yet to be baptized in the name of Jesus and filled with the Holy Ghost, evidenced by speaking in tongues, Jesus Christ can wash away your sins in an instance and fill you with His presence in the next. Go here. At the bottom of the page their is an easy-to-use directory. Just type in your city and state in the church locator and it will show you what the nearest church is to you. Call or show up at the address and they will be glad to help you have both of these experiences so you can come into full communion with Christ.
God is going to give us opportunities to give and receive from him when we position ourselves and listen to the vision He has for us. What comes after that will test our commitment to Christ. Will we press forward and receive gladly what Christ has laid before us? Will we go to whoever and wherever God wants us? Will we see our calling in Him realized? If we do, we will see the miraculous, the supernatural and the powerful take place in our lives and the lives of others. Ananias got to lay hands on someone for their healing and salvation. Saul got to receive healing and salvation. What will you do/receive? How far will you go?
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.