In a lectionary reading for the third Sunday of Easter, Saul has a life-altering encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6, [7-20]). Light from heaven shines down, then Jesus’ voice knocks Saul off his feet, confronts Saul for persecuting him, and sends him on a new mission. Everything Saul had planned was interrupted. He found himself without sight and no instructions other than “Get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Jesus also speaks to Ananias, asking him to lay hands on Saul and restore his sight. This command troubles Ananias. He didn’t question whether his hands would bring healing. No, Ananias was shaking in his sandals because Saul had a reputation for “breathing threats and murder” against disciples like him. Ananias knew Saul had permission from the high priest to capture and bind Christ’s followers and take them to Jerusalem.
Like Saul, Ananias had been minding his own business when Jesus interrupted his journey. Imagine what Ananias must have been thinking as he traveled to Straight Street. Oh, it must have been a long, long walk. Nevertheless, he heeded the Lord’s call.
See, Jesus’ instructions often make us uncomfortable, stretch our limits and interrupt our plans. The Lord desires that his disciples—then and now—lean into all we’re capable of accomplishing, pushing beyond our comfort zones. Sometimes that call may leave us shaking in our sandals like Saul or Ananias. Still we get up and go.
The Lord told Saul and Ananias to get up and go—and tells us the same. Their stories highlight how our calls are intertwined with those around us. Jesus didn’t tell Saul somebody would come lay hands on him. He told him Ananias would come lay hands on him. After Ananias restored his vision, Saul joined with all the disciples, proclaiming Jesus throughout Damascus as the apostle Paul. What a powerful witness.
To fulfill God’s plan, both Saul and Ananias had to push past doubt and act in faith together. The call for each was personal, yet their stories were connected. Likewise, God’s call for each of us is personal and connected to the people around us. As individuals and communities, we act as God’s hands in the world.
Toward whom and what is Jesus calling you today? Get up and go.