If you knew that an outrageously large sum of money sat in an unknown account with your name on it, how much time would you spend trying to locate that money? Would you look up the addresses of every bank within a 100-mile radius and then expend massive amounts of energy traipsing from bank to bank? Would you lay awake at night wondering why others found their money so easily, and yet you always seem to come up a day late and lots of dollars short?
Knowing we have more waiting on us and not knowing where to find it creates tremendous frustration. Observing other folks enjoying the blessings of their own generous accounts leaves us feeling empty. We try to analyze: “Maybe if I had just learned more, worked harder, and done more, then I’d have a big smile on my face too.”
About ten years ago, I didn’t have a fortune waiting on me in an unknown bank account, but I did know what an empty spirit felt like. I looked at the lives of some of my friends and knew there was more for me out there somewhere, but I had no idea how to find it. Does that describe you right now?
If we’re honest with ourselves, I believe we could all use just a little “more” these days. More love. More grace. More friendship. I am happy to tell you that all those things are available to you – more than you can even imagine. However, before you can take steps toward finding more, you must embrace every ounce of God’s love for you.
Looking back at the process God led me through, I tried to find someone in the Bible who might have traveled the same road. Lo and behold, I found someone!
This guy loved to learn. He sat at the feet of a famous teacher, felt determined to know every jot and tittle of the Law, and moved his way up in the ranks of religious leadership. He became so entrenched in rule-following that he vehemently opposed anyone who dared tarnish the Torah. This Pharisee among Pharisees wasn’t content to wait for blasphemers to come his way. No, Saul went looking for them.
These days, legalists give Christians a bad name. I know because I used to be one. In Saul’s day, Pharisees gave Jews a bad name for the same reasons. Due to their knowledge of the Scriptures, they held a lofty opinion of themselves and felt threatened by the growing number of Jesus followers who simply relied on grace through faith in Him rather than crossing all their t’s and dotting all their i’s to save them.
The first two verses of Acts 9 give us a feel for the mindset of Saul.
“Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”
How ironic that when Luke recorded this scene he chose to label the Jesus followers as prisoners when in fact, Saul was the very one in a spiritual prison. He just didn’t know it yet.
Isn’t it reassuring that God would look down at a man like Saul, who dismissed the significance of sending Jesus to earth, and see tremendous value? I wonder if He and Jesus sat together and marked out their plan for using Saul’s knowledge of the Scriptures, his incredible passion, and his faith to save generations of men and women. Surely, they must have smiled knowing the transformation that would soon take place in Saul’s heart. He was about to find the same freedom those so-called prisoners had found.
Saul thought the bright light of the Damascus road brought about a disability. God saw the blinding light as an act of the greatest kind of love – a love that will do whatever it takes to bring the best out of someone. Circumstances and events that knock us to the ground are most often the ones that lift us straight up into the loving arms of God. Our dark days give us time to assess our spiritual condition. It’s in those quiet dark days that seeds of transformation find fertile soil in which to germinate.
God always keeps His loving eye on your life. He’s mapped out a plan that puts your greatest characteristics to good use.
If you knew that an outrageously large amount of love sat in an account with your name on it, how much time would you spend trying to locate that love? The more love you accept from God, the more love you’ll be able to give. Simply put, loved people love people.
Next week, we’ll talk about Saul’s three days in the darkness and what they can mean for you. I can’t wait to meet you back here. In the meantime, keep tabs on this week’s difficult things that move you closer to God’s love.