When God gives you a vision with Jesus in it – well, of course it is comforting, supportive, beautiful, inspiring – Right?
Here’s my testimony, well, my story, anyway. I get nervous about anything that sounds legalese. In Damascus, where I live, we heard about the Jerusalem persecution, headed up by this vindictive Pharisee Saul of Tarsus who volunteered to hold the coats of people who stoned Stephen to death. Now a sweeter deacon than Stephen you couldn’t find – I understand he even forgave his killers — but talk about tactless and risky behavior. I could give him lessons in how to be somewhere else when trouble begins. It’s a highly prized talent in this Rome-ridden world.
Saul was worse than any centurion – he was a monster. He went looking for opportunities to kill Christians – Jews like himself. We heard that he was coming here, authorized to drag us out of our synagogues and bring us to Jerusalem for what could only be loosely called “questioning.” But there was some kind of accident on the road to Damascus. When Saul got here, he went into seclusion on Straight Street and the gossip was he couldn’t see.
That’s when I had my vision. Did Jesus say, “I have rescued you,” or “keep the faith?” Wrong again. No, Jesus told me – “Ananias – to go to Straight Street and lay your healing hands (oh, did I tell you that’s my gift?) on Saul’s eyes.”
I objected right away. What would my friends think of me? I mean – Saul! It’s been a while since Pentecost and we’ve been using the Holy Spirit for discernment for quite a while. I thought Jesus was out of touch — maybe he didn’t know what Saul was like. But he was very direct. “Go. He is an instrument to bring my name before Gentiles, kings and the people of Israel and he will suffer in my name.”
OK So I went. But I made it quick. In the door, hand on his face, and “Brother Saul … (that stuck in my throat!) …the Lord Jesus who appeared to you has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit!”
I was out of there!
Reports that my wife makes the sturdiest baskets in all of Damascus are greatly exaggerated.