A Voice and a Straight Street

God's_Chosen_InstrumentThe heart holds the memory of a beloved voice, so when that voice is heard it responds instantly with all the affection felt for that person. When I hear my child’s voice on the phone, my mother heart wells up, eager to hear their news and respond with loving encouragement.

In Acts 9, a disciple named Ananias heard a beloved voice. It is not known whether he had heard this voice before, but he instantly recognized it as belonging to someone he loved. At the sound of this voice calling him by name, he immediately responded with, “Yes, Lord.” Ananias’ response speaks volumes about his relationship with his Lord. He recognized the voice of God because he fostered a loving relationship with God. In Acts 22, he is described as “a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.” (Acts 22:12  NIV) Residing in Damascus, Ananias was of the Way, the name given to followers of Jesus Christ.

In a vision the Lord told him to go to Saul of Tarsus, who would be found praying  and waiting for Ananias to lay hands on him to restore his sight. This message went against all Ananias’ sensibilities. Deliberately seek out the man breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples? I can imagine Ananias pondering his response to God’s incredible request before replying. His reaction stems not from personal fear, but from a desire to protect fellow believers from harm at the hands of a known persecutor of their people. God hears his reservations, then tells him, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry My name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.” (Acts 9:15-16)

Ananias went to Straight Street as instructed, now sure of God’s ability to transform an enemy into a kinsman. Placing his hands on the blind man, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 9:17)

I have so much to learn from Ananias. His sensitivity to the voice of God and his immediate affirmative response, in spite of his misgivings, show a man walking in step with the Spirit, as I desire to walk. As God’s messenger, he demonstrates Christian grace and love to a man just recently known as a violent enemy. Only by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit can I love my enemies and do good to those who hate me (Luke 6:27), as Ananias does. Recognizing the validity of Christ’s appearing to Saul on the road to Damascus and his role as God’s chosen instrument to the Gentiles, Ananias encourages Saul to be baptized, without jealousy or mistrust. His only desire is to see Christ’s purposes fulfilled. I pray I can serve Christ this selflessly.

Ananias plays a supporting role in Saul’s dramatic conversion story, and is often overlooked in the shadow of the mighty apostle. Yet he is spoken of with respect when Paul gives his testimony in Acts 22. To me, that means he has something to offer to a fellow believer centuries later. I pray I will recognize my own Straight Street when my Lord bids me go there.

 

 

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