My mind weaves in and out of the ink in my Bible, sometimes it twirls around to land back in the same spot…again. And I go there, wondering what in the world did that sound like? What details would I see? Was there the smell of fresh bread in the market place, or salt rolling in off the Dead Sea? I have stood next to grown men with tears streaming down both our faces and felt ships break apart around me, perhaps that was in my heart. I don’t want to read this Holy Writ from a distance, as if these were not real people, feeling raw emotions, touching tangible scars, with eyes fixed on history. I want to go there, which brings me to today…a man who straightened some shaky knees and opened his arms to embrace one who would’ve hurled the stone straight at his head. Then asks a question that cuts straight to the bone. I can’t shake him from my mind, I hope I never do.
His eyes opened up to another morning in Damascus, like the one before. Only on this day, his eyes would see something that his lips would talk about forever. “He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus” (Acts 22:12, NLT). Ananias.
Three days prior, there was a man making his way to Damascus, who would have loved nothing more than to bust down Ananias’ door, cinch the chains on him, and drag him back to Jerusalem. The whispers weren’t quiet, they knew he was coming with his permission slip and taste for blood. Saul.
But the only chains seen on this day were the ones that fell from Saul’s feet, when Ananias loosed the Word right into his life. Shackles. Broken.
“The Lord said, ‘Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.’ (Acts 9:11).
Ananias had heard. He would’ve preferred his feet running away from Saul, not towards him. But you don’t run anywhere when you’re on your face.
“But the Lord said, ‘Go’…” (Acts 9:15a) “So Ananias went…” (Acts 9:17a)
He knew the way. About how long it would take for him to get there. The neighbors he would pass and nod to, the corners he would turn down until his toes turned around that final one as he squared his shoulders down Straight Street. Eyes looking up, there was Judas’ house. Heart pounding deep in his chest. Heart of a devoted man. Ananias stepped up to the door, surely taking a deep breath as his knuckles knocked against the door in no uncertain rhythm.
“I’m here for a man from Tarsus, named Saul,” Ananias looked past the broad shoulders that stood in front of him.
“We’ve been expecting you. He hasn’t eaten for three days, he can’t see, and he’s been crying out to this Jesus. The very One whose followers we were to imprison. I held his hand and led him here,” the man tried to erase the panic in his voice.
Can. You. Imagine?
Then following that shaky man into a room where prayers drenched in tears echoed off the walls. And the first thing that falls on Saul’s ears, “Brother Saul…” (Acts 9:17, 22:13). His head lifts and his gaze follows the voice, but he doesn’t lock eyes with Ananias. He can’t.
Don’t miss the first words in scripture spoken to Saul by another believer, “Brother”. That word meant so much to Paul that in Acts 22 when standing arrested before a crowd and recounting his story, he could have left it out. But then he would be leaving out part of his family, and Ananias was just that.
Ananias poured out the path for Paul’s life, it would be a windy road covered in adventure, tears, laughter, needle pricks, donkey poop, shouts of pain, and shouts of praise, with bonds that would carry into eternity. “Then he (Ananias) told me (Paul), ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and hear him speak. For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard’.” (Acts 22:14-15)
This is where Ananias runs away with my heart. Because at this point, Saul can see the man standing before him, hanging on his every word. As Ananias, unwavering in his boldness says, “What are you waiting for?” (Acts 22:16) He continues, “Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.”
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
This questions has lingered within me for days. What are you waiting for, Linds.? To make that move? To write those words? To make the time? To chase after your assignment?
So I pose the same questions to you. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? To take that step? Start that adoption paperwork? Teach that life group? Train up that child? Give that grace? Forgive what seems unforgiveable? Change that job? Punch fear in the throat? Trash those habits?
You’re going to have to rise to your feet. Take that first step. Chains are breaking. What are you waiting for?