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Unwelcome Assignment

Acts 9:10-16
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, 'Ananias!' 'Yes, Lord,' he answered. The Lord told him, 'Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.' 'Lord,' Ananias answered, 'I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.' But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.'

The blind Saul (later called Paul) was led by the hand to Damascus. He did not know exactly where he was, but Jesus knew all about him; his name, his birthplace and his new prayer-life. Elsewhere in the city, a Jewish believer in Jesus (perhaps a refugee from the persecution in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1)) named Ananias also heard the Lord Jesus speaking to him in a vision.

It was an instruction to go across the city to a specific house in a well-known street, where Saul of Tarsus was praying. The Lord had already given Saul another vision: that Ananias would come to his house and lay hands on him so that he would be able to see again. And then the Lord told Ananias to do that job for Him. As you can imagine, word had travelled fast, warning the Christians to beware of Saul; and Ananias was afraid to go near him. The godly man then argued with the Lord, explaining to Him what He already knew – as though it would excuse Ananias from the assignment.

Jesus was persistent. Saul's 'arrest' on the Damascus road, his subsequent blindness, prayer vigil and vision were all in the Lord's plan. It was not for Ananias to argue about his role. But Jesus gave him enough explanation to help Ananias to understand that he was called to show love to somebody he feared, and confirm the start of Saul's ministry life of gospel witness and suffering (2 Timothy 3:12). Instead of hiding from Saul, Ananias was called to bless him in Jesus' Name.

The Lord knows what He is doing. It is not usually wrong to run from danger, but it is wrong if the Lord tells us to face it and not fear. We are too small to be able to understand all of God's great plan, so why should we think we know more than He does and refuse to obey Him? We should trust and do what He tells us. Danger is not a reason for refusing to obey: if the Lord commands our circumstances then He will protect us in them (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:28-32).

My Lord and Commander. Thank You that every command You give is right and safe to be obeyed. Forgive me for refusing Your path because I want to guard myself from danger, rather than trusting in Your powerful protection. Help me to face each new circumstance with confidence and find my peace in Your Word which also guarantees Your love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams