Jesus confronted Saul (later known as Paul) on the road to Damascus. This passage starts just after Jesus had asked him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9:4) His reply was honest, "Who are You Lord?" Saul had heard about Jesus, and despised Him; but Saul did not know Him. The religious zealot thought he was pleasing God by persecuting Christians, but he was wrong (Acts 9:1-2). He assumed that he had power and that Jesus was yesterday's failed imposter; he was wrong about that too. The blinding light, and the commanding voice who knew his name, was enough evidence that Jesus was alive and very powerful.
From that point, Saul ceased to be the person who controlled his own destiny. He was blinded by the light, and could not see which way to go. It was a prophetic demonstration of his heart and spiritual condition: he thought he could see the truth but he was living in the dark as far as God was concerned (Romans 1:21). Having made Christians vulnerable in his hands, he was now totally dependent on others. Jesus commanded that Saul place himself into His hands.
It was a moment of conversion because he chose to obey Jesus for the first time. In Acts 26:15-19 Paul gave more details of what Jesus said (when Saul was on trial before King Agrippa): concluding with "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven." He knew he was in the dark, physically and spiritually, and that only Jesus could enlighten him. He had changed his mind; he realized he was wrong and repented. As Jonah was three days in the great fish and Jesus was three days in the tomb (Matthew 12:40), so Saul was three days in the dark – awaiting what God would do next.
Few conversions are as dramatic as Saul's. But every time a sinner responds to God there is a realisation of sin, acknowledgement of Christ's sovereignty, and a willingness to turn from sin and to obey the Lord. As human beings we like to think that we determine our own pathway through life. But when God intervenes and calls us to obey Him, we start to learn what trust looks like. It is one step at a time. The Lord will not tell us the future in detail, but tests our trust by letting us wait … and sometimes He does not reveal His direction until the last minute. As we respond in trust and obedience, the future is safe and productive in God's hands – as it was for Paul.
© Dr Paul Adams