The Encounter that Changes Everything
I have known people who frankly told me that they didn’t choose to be used of God in their current areas of ministry. Some had purposed to pursue other “big” things in life. All of them without exception have confessed that at some point. But God showed up and they had to change course. What would make a man or woman with a sound plan and goal in sight suddenly be possessed by Kingdom matters to a point that everything else becomes secondary? I never at one point thought or even imagined that I would be where I am today. It couldn’t have made any sense. Even so, I’m here today because something happened that made me who I am, be where I am and do what I do.
Saul was no ordinary Jew. He had a goal to totally eliminate the irritating Christians whose influence was growing every day. The status quo was being challenged! He was radical about persecuting the members of this new sect called Christians. He travelled far and wide executing his schemes and took pride in what he was doing. In Acts 9, we read that God showed up to Saul when on Damascus road. What happened to him completely changed him and his life. In a moment, a radical persecutor of Jesus’ disciples, became the defender of the faith committed to seeing every tongue confess Jesus. Anyone who had seen Saul a week before and then heard him speak after his conversion, would be very confused and would find it hard to come to terms with the new reality.
What happened to Saul on Damascus road is not unique. It happened and is still happening to people today. It happened to Peter while he was busy fishing when Jesus suddenly showed up. The Peter we see in Acts 1 is a very different Peter from the fisherman he was. This same experience happened to Matthew, Zacchaeus and a host other people in the New Testament. I read the biography of D. L. Moody, Mary Slessor, C. T. Studd and the Cambridge Seven. These are people who had not even dreamt of being involved in the ministry of winning souls but became great men in the Kingdom! Certainly, something happened to them.
There is that one moment when a normal person encounters God while on this planet and that changes everything thereafter! This encounter forms a defining moment for that person for the rest of his/her life. It becomes the life’s bearing- a point of reference for any other thing done with that life. It becomes an “Aha!” turn-around moment. Different people have encountered God differently and at different stages of their lives. It happens in different forms to different people. My encounter happened one evening when I was alone with God in my room during my routine prayer time. Since then, my life has never been the same again! It radically changed all my ambitions, priorities and relationships. Everything else was stripped off as I got a clear focus on what God had in store for me.
There is a huge deficit of Kingdom workers in all sectors and so God is always recruiting and hiring. The problem has never been about the work or the harvest, but workers. God is after the best people who can be trusted with people and Kingdom resources. God chooses, prepares and makes us fit for the assignment He has uniquely called each one of us to fulfil which no other person is best qualified to do. Most people have plans which may include serving God in one way or another. However, there comes a time when God interrupts and alters all of them. Total obedience should be our response when it happens. This is with the understanding that God knows better than us and that His plans are good and are meant to prosper and not harm us. If we are left to ourselves, our lives won’t yield as much as when God uses them as He desires. God is not after bending our will to submission. Be that as it may, it is wise to willingly cooperate with Him.
When acting out obedience to what God has told us, it is normal for other people who were not present at that encounter to call you confused, a fool or mad. This is because most people don’t find it sensible or logical to do what Saul, C. T. Studd or any other disciple who is keen on following Jesus, did. It even gets to a point that family goes against certain decisions. Even when the world doesn’t find sense in radical obedience, true disciples should be happy for great is their reward in heaven!
Let us boldly step out and be on a path of total obedience knowing that the cost of not following is way greater than the cost of following Jesus.
***Peter Kale (not his real name) is a missionary serving among an unreached people group in Northeastern Kenya