3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” —Acts 9:3-6
The apostle Paul is a great example of what happens when God finds someone. Acts 9:3 says the timing is “suddenly.” That’s always the way it is. The person who seems so far; the most prodigal child living lost in the world; the spouse down in their addictions and never coming back; the sister or parent or friend most antagonistic to the Gospel—this moment!—could be a fervent follower of Jesus Christ that puts you to shame this time next year! No one is too lost for God to find them.
In Paul’s case, “a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground” (v.4), he got low. We need to get low, don’t we? “And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him” (v.4). Do you hear the tenderness here? Jesus Christ is now confronting enemy #1—the greatest destroyer of what Christ is building. Every time Christ puts a brick in the wall, the enemy tries to tear it out.
Jesus could have destroyed him. But He’s not like that. Do you think Jesus is like that toward people that are blind? You’re just wrong. It’s not His heart at all. We get angry about non-believers and the way they mess up our world, but that’s not God’s heart for them. God loves the world. That’s why Jesus came. God “is not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).
I love the relentless tenderness of Jesus. He says “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” If you’re a Christian, note that when someone is persecuting you for your faith in Christ, Jesus takes that very personally. Not, “Why did you persecute Stephen and martyr him?” or, “Why are you being so hard on some of My children?” Here Jesus moves toward Saul who is so far, but not too far; not too lost for God to find him. Paul knew he was in trouble and grasped for hope: “Who are You, Lord?” (v.5).
How shocking for him to find out that the Jesus he was persecuting was actually the Messiah that Saul was waiting for who had already come; and that Saul was actually working against Him! Until grace interrupted with truth and an invitation: “But rise.”
Like Saul, the crushing moment when we realize we are truly lost before God becomes the moment when we hear Jesus tenderly say, “Rise. You can’t save yourself; I’ve done it for you.”
Prayer - Father, thank You for going as far as You had to go to find me. For the journey from eternity to the cross that Jesus took for me, and then for meeting me in the road I was taking to hell. Thank You for breaking through my half-hearted and misguided efforts to find You by effectively finding me when I was completely lost! I welcome the chance to spend eternity in the joyous effort to tell You how grateful I am. In Jesus’ name, Amen.