Today my reading is Acts 9:1-21. Saul, who supervised Stephen's death remains focused on destroying the early church. To further his cause, he gains permission from the synagogue authorities in Jerusalem to travel to Damascus. His goal is to arrest as many followers as possible and bring them back to Jerusalem. With murderous threats still on the forefront of his tongue, Saul receives a surprise visitor while he travels. Jesus appears in a blinding light and asks Saul why he's persecuting him. Even Saul, soon to be the apostle Paul, is speechless at the sight and sound of Jesus. Turns out he's blinded too but in the midst of his blindness, he finds belief. (Verses 1-9)
The Lord then appears to a faithful follower named Ananias and instructs him to go to the house where Saul is staying, lay hands on him, and heal his blindness (Verses 10-12). Talk about drawing the short straw. This definitely falls under the category of things I'd rather get a root canal than. Before him, was laid out a God-sized task. Ananias, much more politely than I might have, attempts to tell God why this is a very bad idea (Verses 13-14). Obviously not dissuaded, the Lord reconfirms Ananias' call to this task.
Ananias does exactly what is asked of him. If fact, he does it in a spirit of complete humility and willingness. If I had been called to heal the man who days before was murdering my friends and fellow believers, I might have been tempted to just breeze through the house, mumble a greeting while I half-heartedly healed him and then got the heck out of Dodge. When Ananias greets Saul, he calls him Brother. This is faith with flesh on it.
Saul is radically changed and immediately begins to preach in the synagogue that Jesus is the Son of God (Verse 20). I have no question about Jesus' power to change, but I would not discount the impact of Ananias' example in Saul's life. God knew exactly who to send to Saul. He knew the first thing Saul needed to see after his stint with blindness was a life filled with all the power and all the humility of Christ. Later Saul (Paul) would write, "Your attitude should be that same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8) As Paul penned those words, I'd be willing to bet Ananias' face was intertwined with the face of Christ.
I know the question Jesus is asking me today. Am I willing to be faith with flesh on for someone else? Am I willing to be humble enough to vulnerably share my struggles and victories with others? Am I willing to give this day over to leading a woman who's even one step behind me to the place where I am with Jesus today? You might as well start calling me Shananias because I'm saying yes!