The Conversion of St. Paul
How cold and hard the earth must have felt as his body was thrust down upon it! The ground itself may have been the only thing colder or harder than Saul’s heart that day. How brilliant the light must have been and how blinding the vision! That temporary blindness would later offer him true vision for the rest of his earthly days.
The road was little more than a path of dirt covered with small jagged rocks and pebbles. It was far from a desirable place to lay your head, much less land on. How humbling it must have been for Saul, powerful Saul, to quickly go from being the hunter to the hunted.How ironic that he landed upon the earth when God humbled him, for both ground and humility share the same root word in Latin (a language Saul certainly knew).
The dirt was caked upon his face. His vision blurred, but his hearing must have sharpened. Saul’s companions stood speechless, but Christ did not.
In a flash, everything Saul knew, everything he had learned during his years of Rabbinical study, was rendered almost irrelevant. In one instant, he went from being certain of his righteousness and superiority among God’s children to staring God in the face and going blind. The revelation was not only one of God’s identity or Saul’s shortsightedness; Saul’s self-righteousness was revealed.
“Why are you persecuting me?” asked his new lord, the Lord, Jesus Christ.
How painful these words must have been to Saul. How many bloodstained memories must have rushed back to Saul’s subconsciousness. No doubt in his blindness he recalled the faces of those he had hunted down and persecuted—faces like Stephen’s. How gruesome the images, how deep the pain, and how humbling the guilt overflowing in his soul as he realized he had helped kill his own brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of his God and Father.
Those he had helped condemn, those he had called “apostates” he would now call brothers.
Can you relate to Saul at all? Answer the following questions, and record your answers in a journal for further reflection.
- Do you look at your sins as not only greiving (or hurting) other people (your brothers and sisters), but actions that grieve Jesus himself? Think of an example.
- How would you describe your experience or vision of God? Is it as intimate or personal as Saul’s?
- Do you feel like God calls you by name, and even knows your name?
- Have you been feeling that God doesn’t notice you or seem to care about what you do? If so, why?
- Is your vision of God one of an absent Father who is far from active in your life, or is it one of a loving, ever-present Father?
If some of these questions strike a nerve in you (like they do in me), then perhaps your vision of God needs to change—just like Saul’s did.
The God Saul encountered that day was different than the God he had come to know on his own. When Saul was humbled, he was startled; when he was blinded, he began to truly see. That’s what grace does—it gives us the eyes of faith.
Saul was about to undergo the greatest change in his life. After encountering Christ face-to-face in such a profound way, everything about Saul would change — starting with his name.
Excerpt from “Zealous,” written by Mark Hart and Christopher Cuddy provides a contemporary look at the basics of the spiritual life from the lens of St. Paul’s epistles. Purchase the full book at https://shop.lifeteen.com/collections/books/products/zealous