It’s been a minute since I’ve shared what’s on my heart with you all. After a lot of wrestling, praying, and asking God precisely what He would like me to share with you all, I can finally start typing!
We’ve all had a crazy year and a half; none of us really escaped the trauma of 2020.
It was hard.
But guess what? We can do hard things! We did hard things!
Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” It’s because of the Lord’s strength today that I am able to write this newsletter to you. The author of Philippians, Paul, lived a life full of ups and downs. Before Paul came to the Lord, He was known as Saul, infamous for his persecution of the early Church.
It took a full-on encounter with the Lord before Saul’s life was turned around. He went from a persecutor of Jesus Followers to a foundational leader of them. It all changed when He encountered God personally. On his way to persecute the church, Saul suddenly encountered Jesus. (Acts 8-9)
“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him,
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?”
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,”
“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Only Saul saw Jesus. The men traveling with him only heard the sound; they did not see Jesus. When Saul stood up, he realized he had lost his sight. The men traveling with him led him into the city as he could not find his way on his own. Saul remained blind for three days. He did not eat nor drink, but only prayed.
Meanwhile, another man would have a miraculous encounter. God then spoke to Ananias, a disciple of the Lord, giving him clear instruction,
“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.”
Now, Ananias was no fool. He knew who Saul was, and the potential for his own hurt should he obey the command of the Lord. I’m sure thoughts flooded the back of his head, thoughts that screamed, “ um excuse me, Lord we can’t be talking about the same guy who has been going around persecuting believers. Are you mad? I know you don’t want me visiting that guy, let alone heal him so he can do more damage to the church…”
But God commanded,
“Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the gentiles and their kinds and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.”
Ananias obeys the Lord and goes to Saul, laying hands on him and healing his vision. Saul received Christ and was baptized. The world would never be the same.
Did you know the name Paul means, “small” or “humble”?
Yup, you guessed it! Paul ate some humble pie in his life, especially at the beginning of his ministry and faith journey with Jesus. Check out the verse above where God even says, “ I will show him how much he must suffer for My name.”
And that he does! Paul accepts Jesus and his life did not get easier. In fact, it got a lot harder. Paul was beaten, imprisoned, suffered ongoing physical pain from a thorn. And to make matters worse, to conclude his ministry he was executed by the Roman Empire.
Okay, at this point I’m sure some of you are like, “Maggie what the heck? This post is supposed to be uplifting and encouraging, and now all I wanna do is go shut myself in my room with the lights off and listen to Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Driver’s License’.”
Nothing wrong with that, but stay with me, my friends! I promise this is going somewhere.
Let’s check out Acts 9:15 “ Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim My name….”
God’s chosen instrument, this guy, God’s chosen instrument?! He was persecuting churches. He was promoting the end of all followers of Jesus. To say the least, Saul was a hot mess, and one driven by his hatred for the early Christians. Yet the Lord made it very clear, “Nope, I’ve chosen him, and he is going to share my name and the Good News of my son with the Gentiles and the people of Israel.”
God chose broken Saul and claimed him as His chosen instrument as Paul. He redeemed him, giving him a new name, and new hope, and a new future.
If you look to the Bible, you’ll find endless stories of God choosing broken people, the most unforgivable of unforgivable, to be His CHOSEN instruments. To refresh your memory, here are some highlights of God’s chosen people:
- Noah, a winemaker, not a shipbuilder (Genesis 6-7)
- Moses, a fugitive, not a prophet (Exodus 3-4)
- Rehab, a harlot, not a spy (Joshua 2 & 6)
- Gideon, a farmer, not a military operative (Judges 6-7)
- David, a shepherd, not a giant slayer (1 Samuel 17)
- Nehemiah, a butler, not an urban planner (Nehemiah 1-2)
- Esther, a concubine, not a truth-teller (Esther 5)
- (Credit to Ally Worthington, Standing Strong)
What a good God we serve, that He might look upon us in our brokenness with love, hope, grace, and mercy. There is purpose in the brokenness. What is broken can be redeemed and restored.
So how did God take my brokenness from 2020 and redeem it?