July 18, 2014


Acts 9:1-9

He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
—Acts 9:4


Young Saul of Tarsus had a pretty clear idea where his story was headed. He was bright, ambitious, and trained by the best teacher in Israel. He had a future as a powerful leader. And now here was an opportunity: leading the effort to hunt down the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who had been executed a few months earlier. Jesus’ outrageous teachings had spurred his followers to cause trouble all over Israel. Soon Saul was leading raids on towns and cities, capturing followers of Jesus and bringing them to trial. It felt like a role he was destined to fill.

But one day, as his team approached Damascus, everything exploded in front of them—a blinding light, then a loud voice. Saul found himself on his back in the dust. Someone was asking him a question, so he asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the voice said. Saul’s heart must have sunk at that. The rabbi they’d put to death was somehow back, and now he was pursuing Saul!

By the end of that encounter Saul’s eyes were blinded, but the eyes of his heart had been opened. His friends helped him stumble into town so that he could begin to see what Jesus Christ had in mind for his life story. Saul’s life would be drastically changed.

Has Jesus Christ ever changed your plans for your story? Are you prepared to be turned around?

Lord Jesus, meet us where you wish and show us your story for our lives. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at www.squintforgod.com.

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