Saul, re-named Paul, is every parent’s hope for a child who has left off following the Jesus of their childhood. God can do anything. He reveals Himself in whatever way it takes.
It isn’t just our kids though. The things that I believed about God in the first half of my life have changed quite a bit. The God that led me to judge different ways of living, a narrow God that frowned on different dress expressions, stances on alcohol, dancing, etc. has left the box I placed Him in. How else can Jesus reveal the lavish love and welcome He has for us all if He doesn’t step outside of our boxes?
Honestly, I wish parenthood went backwards. It would have been far better for my children to have me as a parent starting at 55 or 60 and then work my way down! Sometimes I have wanted to run after them in their leaving and call out, “Wait! I forgot something!” Of course, you can’t do that, everyone deserves the freedom to leave the God in the box…a God who then puts you in such a tight box that you don’t even have the space to discover who He made you to be. That’s what I wish I could throw down on the ground ahead of my kids…SPACE. Glorious, open, welcoming space. Space where they discover how delighted God is with them, how much He gets them and gets into the trenches with them.
Paul had God in his childhood box. But maybe childhood isn’t just defined by literal age. He persecuted the early believers for having discovered God through Jesus, His death and resurrection. Until God caused a light from heaven to flash around him, causing him to fall to the ground, following up with a shocking question. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”
It is hard for you to kick against the pricks” was a Greek proverb, but it was also familiar to the Jews and anyone who made a living in agriculture. An ox goad was a stick with a pointed piece of iron on its tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the animal to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the animal would rebel by kicking out at the prick, and this would result in the prick being driven even further into its flesh. In essence, the more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered. Saul certainly was kicking.
Saul is confused and asks, “Who are you, Lord?” Now that is a very strange question back. He didn’t just ask, “Who is this?” No, he asked, “Who are you, LORD?” The answer came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Then Jesus told Saul to get up and go into the city and wait to be told what he should do. Paul had to be guided into the city because when he opened his eyes, he realized he was blind. The recognition of our blindness is the beginning of having our small God boxes busted open.
Here are some “Saul Questions” for today. Talk to God out of them.
At this time in your life, is there a place where you persecute others out of the view of who you think God is and what He is like?
Persecute: to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict – to cause to suffer (in thoughts, words or deeds)
Have you put God in a box of your own understanding? Could it be that Jesus is larger and more of God than you have thought?
Do you have a sense that Jesus is seeking to guide/direct you but you are kicking against the prick and causing yourself (and probably others) even more grief?
Is Jesus inviting you into a much larger, welcoming, loving space than you have ever known?
Is there someone, maybe even your growing up child, whom you need to give more space to in order to find Christ for themselves?
Photo by Taylor Hinton