there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 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, 12 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.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 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. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 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.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;
I love this little story about Ananais. I am struck by his obedience. He is obedient even in the face of mortal danger. He knows of Saul. The infamous Saul who has authority to throw Christians in prison, torture them or even have them killed. This is the man Ananais is told to go to.
I'm not surprised he questions God about it! It's like he's saying - "I've heard of this guy - he could kill me"! God doesn't soothe any fears Ananais may have, He just tells him to go. God explains who Saul is going to be, not who he is now. That's one of the amazing things about God, He sees our potential, he doesn't see what we are stuck in or how awful we believe we are, he sees who we are going to become.
Anyway, back to Ananais. He's clearly spending time with God, having a vision, experiencing the Holy Spirit. He is a Christian, who, even if he is scared of the persecution going on, is still living life with God, praying, spending time with Him regardless. Now, he's had this vision. God has commissioned him with an important task. One which could go wrong, horribly wrong, but Ananais doesn't falter. When God tells him to go, he goes. What beautiful trust in God Ananais has. He knows Saul's reputation, but he doesn't hold back, because God's reputation is better. Ananais shows great trust and confidence in God, he goes and does what God has told him to.
Ananais goes off to meet up with the tormentor and murderer of God's people.
Then, when he meets him, he calls him 'brother'! Wow! That bit shocks me. This man of God goes up to someone who is the enemy of God's people and calls him brother! Ananais has no more proof that anything has changed in Saul other than what God has said. What God has said is enough. Ananais doesn't go with prejudice, with pre-formed ideas of who he's going to meet or what is going to happen. It seems Ananais is completely aware of the transforming work God is capable of. He accepts that this man who has been responsible for the capture, torture, and death of other Christians, possibly even friends or family, can be transformed. Ananais obeys God above any fear, but not only that, he accepts Saul as family. Ananais firm faith means that he understands how lives can be transformed. He prays for Saul, Saul is healed, and then he baptises him. What an incredible transformation in a matter of moments!
Would this of happened if Ananais hadn't been obedient, accepting, unprejudiced? If Ananais went thinking there's no way God could change THIS man, would this chain of events happened?
We all have preconceived ideas about situations and people, but let's be like Ananais. Let's trust God in any situation, even the scary ones, that He can change outcomes and expectations. God is incredibly surprising and no-one is out of his reach, so let us be obedient and trust that God knows what he's doing - who knows who's lives could be changed through us?!