I want to respond to the Lord like Ananias did.
I know I have read this story before, but for some reason when I was reviewing this with my students, my heart got caught on a previously unnoticed section.
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 inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen 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 thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy 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 sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 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 that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
(Acts 9: 10-17)
The Lord calls his name and he responds.
Ananias seems as though he is used to hearing the voice of the Lord.
I was struck by this response as I spoke to my students about how differently the Lord spoke to Saul and Ananias. Saul sees a light and falls to the ground, blinded. A voice from the heavens speaks, telling him to go to Damascus. Yet when Jesus speaks to Ananias, there seems to be nothing dramatic about it. Ananias hears his name being called and responds simply, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord tells him to go encounter Saul, and Ananias asks a question to be certain this is what the Lord wants. For the modern Christian, it might seem a bit humorous that Ananias is completely unfazed by the call to go lay his hands on someone so as to bring about their healing. That is nothing compared to encountering a man who has been persecuting his Christian brethren. Despite questions and concern, Ananias does as the Lord asks.
I want that ability to clearly hear the Lord’s voice and that willingness to do whatever He desires.
Do you see what the Lord does with this man’s “Yes”? Ananias is the one who lays his hands on Saul’s head, causing his sight to be restored. The Holy Spirit comes upon Saul and soon after he is baptized. In a matter of days, Saul has completely changed his direction and Ananias played a significant role in helping Saul encounter the Lord.
I find it interesting that Jesus does not speak to Saul again and heal him of blindness. Instead, He works through other people. People, hopefully, like you and me who are striving to hear His voice. Paul goes on to become one of the greatest missionaries and evangelizers in the early Church. Thousands of miles are traveled by foot and boat in order to proclaim the Gospel. Ananias laid his hands on this man and implored the Holy Spirit to come make His home in him. That is a significant role for someone who is referenced briefly in Scripture.
Never underestimate how the Lord can use you to bring about healing and conversion in other people. I challenged my students to encounter the Lord and then to let their lives be a living witness of that encounter. Because our encounter with the Lord changes other people. When my older sisters became more interested in their faith, it influenced the entire family. As I have interacted with people on fire for the Lord, it has caused a deeper desire to burn within me. The Lord seeks us out and encounters us personally, but He often does much of His work through other people.
And that is what blows my mind.
What precious missions He entrusts to each one of us, if only we have the eyes to see what He desires.
We pray in the “Our Father” for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. What do you suppose we mean by that? One aspect is that we are praying that we can live out God’s will. When I say Yes to Jesus, I am saying Yes to allowing other people to encounter Him through me. I am being like Ananias and letting the Lord lead me to the next Saul who will revolutionize the world. That is exactly what I want. I don’t want to be Saul–I want to be the one who helps him draw nearer to the Lord so he is able to go out and do the Lord’s will. The Lord has used this method from the very beginning. Andrew encountered the Lord and then told his brother Peter, who became the first pope. Each member of the Body of Christ works together to bring about the mission and will of God.
Whatever role the Lord has planned for us, it requires our radical and unwavering Yes. We cannot see now what He will do with our little actions, with our subtle conversions, or with our pursuit of virtue. Ananias didn’t know that this blinded man would proclaim the Gospel to ends of the earth, making the name of Jesus known among the Jews and the Gentiles. He didn’t need to know the results; He simply knew what the Lord wanted of him in that moment. Ananias responded with a zealous Yes and it changed the world. Let us do the same.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12)