My man, Paul. He is one of the most well-known Christian converts in history. He is truly the poster child for turning your life around.
Paul, originally known as Saul, does not show up until Acts 8. The first sentence where he is mentioned does not exactly give a glowing recommendation for who Saul was at the time. In the previous chapter, we are introduced to the first martyr for Christianity: Stephen. Acts 8:1 says that Saul consented to Stephen’s death. Verse three than talks about how Saul was dragging both men and women of the church off to prison. Yeah, and this guy becomes one of the first missionaries???
Well, the next chapter, Saul pulls a total U-turn. Saul goes to the high priest and asked for letters showing that he had authority to arrest Christian men and women in Damascus and bring them to Jerusalem. On the road to Damascus, Saul experienced Christ. A bright light surrounds Saul and Christ speaks to him, asking him why he is persecuting Christians and telling Saul that He is Christ whom Saul is persecuting. Saul submits and asks what Christ wants him to do to which Christ responds that he was to go into the city and then he would be told what to do.
When Saul goes to rise up, he finds that he is blind. Those who were traveling with Saul led him into Damascus where he meets Ananias. Ananias was told by God to go meet Saul and lay hands on Saul, giving Saul back his sight. Understandably so, Ananias was hesitant. He knew who Saul was and was afraid of what Saul could do. However, God tells Ananias that He has chosen Saul to be His vessel, spreading His name throughout the world. Ananias obeys God and goes to Saul. After Saul’s sight is restored, Saul is baptized and he spends time with the disciples in Damascus.
Initially, Paul was the total opposite of a Christian, to the point of actually being someone who persecuted Christians. Christians were afraid of him and what he could do. He was probably the last person they thought would ever convert to Christianity, the last person they thought God could use. But then Jesus…
I feel like sometimes we get wrapped up in all the reasons why we can’t do something or why something can’t happen. ‘I don’t have what it takes,’ ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘That’s too challenging,’ ‘I’ve messed up too many times,’ ‘I’ve been hurt too many times’. We could come up with hundreds of reasons why something couldn’t happen. But we tend to forget the One that negates every possible reason or excuse we could come up with. There’s a reason Matthew 19: 26b says “…with God all things are possible.” God can take the most impossible looking situation and turn it around. God can take a person who others would believe is too far gone and use them to accomplish amazing things for His kingdom. I mean, he took Saul, one of the most renowned persecutors of Christianity and turned him into Paul, the missionary who would travel to a fair amount of the known word, spreading the Gospel and who would author about half of the New Testament.
It can be easy for us to only see the reasons why not, the things that make a certain outcome or certain thing impossible. But even when we think we’re in the most impossible situations or facing the most impossible challenges, when we start making those lists of ‘why nots’, we need to always remember to end the list with ‘but God…’. ‘I don’t have what it takes,’ ‘I’m not good enough,’ ‘That’s too challenging,’ ‘I’ve messed up too many times,’ ‘I’ve been hurt too many times’, but God still works. Even with all of the reasons, God still works.