“But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’” Acts 9:13-14 (NRSV)
Do you remember the story of Moses being called to go to Egypt? He proffered some reasons to the Lord as to why he was not the right man for the job. At first Moses suggests that he will not be convincing enough when he speaks to the Israelites. Later Moses confesses, “Oh my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10) And the Lord may have thought: “Just once I would like someone to say ‘Yippee,’ when I give them something to do.”
Do you remember the story of Jonah being called to go to Nineveh the second time? Jonah went and preached to the entire city. The people repented. They put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. They fasted. Jonah is displeased and angry. Jonah said, Oh Lord, is this not what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from perishing.” (Jonah 4:2) When Jonah fled to Tarshish and when Jonah grumbled at God’s compassion, the Lord may have thought: “Just once I would like someone to say ‘Yippee,’ when I give them something to do and when I choose to be gracious to others.”
And now we come to the story of another Ananias in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. He has heard the stories of this Saul, who was persecuting the members of the early Church. He has heard how it has become a personal mission for him to breathe threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He knows how words have spread about this man who has come to discover people of the Way, bind the men and women, and return them to Jerusalem. The Lord appears to Ananias in a vision wanting to send him to the blind Saul that his sight may be restored by Ananias laying hands on him. “But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’” And the Lord may have thought: “Just once I would like someone to say ‘Yippee,’ when I give them something to do.” Ananias did as the Lord asked, but not before having first challenged the Lord. Ananias ministered to Saul so that his sight was restored. He was baptized and became the Apostle Paul who was instrumental in the expansion and growth of the Church.
In our own walk with the Lord, we may find ourselves being asked to “turn the other cheek,” “to go the extra mile,” “to give someone another chance,” or “to forgive,” when that seems so much is being asked of us. These stories remind us that God does not ask us to do anything without equipping us for the task, which may include trusting that God knows best!
O God, forgive us when we have challenged Your directions. Help us to follow You wherever You lead us and to obey whatever You ask. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.