Every once in a while God asks you (or perhaps a better way to describe it is, He instructs you) to do something challenging – even a bit frightening.
When He does that it is real faith test… It forces you to step out in faith-obedience, regardless of your personal misgivings. You may find yourself offering excuses or even arguing with the Lord a bit, but there is no question about it, He has “nudged” you – He has spoken – and He wants you to step past your fear and respond with obedience.
Ever have it happen to you? It happened to a faithful servant of the Lord, named Ananias… the account of it is found in Acts 9 and is directly related to the conversion of Saul, later renamed Paul – Apostle Paul.
The Bible says, “Saul (later Paul) was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord… if he found any belonging to ‘the Way” (i.e. Christ followers), men or women, he sought to bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
On his way to Damascus to do this one day, “suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’” When he asked who was speaking to him, the resurrected Christ spoke to him and said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!”
And that led Saul (i.e. Paul) to put his faith in Christ!
Then the Biblical account goes on to say, “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. He has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name!’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’”
So what did Ananias do? The Bible says, “So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’” (from Acts 9:10–17 ESV)
Wow! What faith! What obedience! I’m challenged by how Ananias overcame his fear and did what the Lord instructed him to do! (Not at all like the Old Testament prophet Jonah!) Just let me say, when I read this passage this morning, I found myself asking God to help me be more like Ananias! When the Lord speaks and directs me to do something for Him – be it small or great – I want to overcome any fear I have, act in faith, and obey. When we do the results are exciting… led by the Spirit! God may use us to do something really significant for Him!