Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (NASB)
Did you ever want to really, I mean really, be a chosen one of God? Now we all know in our mind that we are chosen, one who God picked out. But in our heart there is another story. Our heart says we are not good enough. Well, we are not good enough. But… and here is the story.
Paul was out to disturb the disciples of the Lord. He was out to rid the earth of the scourge of those people following Jesus. He had just witnessed the stoning of Stephen, and had asked the high priest to give him letters to go to the synagogues of Damascus. If he found any followers of the Way, he would bring them bound to Jerusalem. So was he good enough? Going after disciples was probably not the thing the Lord wanted him to do. But the Lord told the disciple Ananias, in Damascus, to get up and go. He was to tell this fellow Saul/ Paul that he is a chosen one of the Lord.
I often explain to the Lord what is going on. When the Lord began to speak to Charlie and me that we were to marry, I patiently explained to the Lord that Charlie was in prison. Charlie patiently explained to the Lord that I was outside and would bring in the outside if we married. Like the Lord did not know all about us! He had chosen marriage for us.
But the Lord went on to tell Ananias that Paul was a man chosen by God, in all his imperfection, and murderous traits if you will. In all Paul’s anger toward disciples, in all his standing there as Stephen was stoned, in all his power or non power as a man, Paul later became a chosen tool. We the chosen ones will be used as instruments.
Now here’s how that seems to me. If I am chosen as an instrument, a tool, I will be used of God. But I have to keep in mind I am the means in the hands of the Master Mechanic. He knows how to use this – maybe a pair of pliers. Maybe a saw. But I am only the saw or the pliers. I don’t know which tool, so I have to leave it in God’s hands.
Then comes the next big thing. Paul was going to be a utensil, or a implement, and God was going to show Paul how much he would suffer. Whoooo! I don’t know if I would have signed up for that if I knew. But suffering, even under imprisonment, has a place for the believer. Suffering, outside and inside, is to give us the strength for where the Lord is taking us.
I used to pray like this. Lord, You tell me what to do and I will just do it. I know the drill. I do this thing You told me and You are a good God. And at the last minute You will come in and save me from the suffering. Not!
I cringe when I read that we will have troubles. I don’t want troubles. I want it nice and easy- this life with the Lord. But this week I had a sudden emergency medical condition. After driving myself to the emergency ward, I was operated on late Sunday night. With a full week ahead, I at first “explained” to the Lord that I could not do this. I had too many things coming up this week, and I didn’t want the pain. But at least the pain was tempered with blessing.
The fun blessing came after surgery. My son and a friend were with me in the hospital room and a very sweet young nurse announced that I had an “Incarcerated Hernia.” We all burst out laughing. I have so many incarcerations in my life and her innocent remark made us laugh. I “belly laughed” until my stitches hurt. God has a sense of humor. After this small suffering, He had a bit of joy for us.
Sometimes suffering is much deeper than I have yet experienced. He told Paul how much he would suffer. But think about this. Those inside the walls suffer much more than we do outside.
Oh Lord, help our dear brothers and sisters inside the walls as they suffer. Be with them and give them joy too.