Summary: Like Saul of Tarsus, Christ calls us to dramatic change so we might join in God's work.
An old farmer liked to brag around town that he could command his mule with nothing more than a few soft words; no whips or prods necessary. She would respond, he claimed, with nothing more than gently spoken commands. Of course people were skeptical, so one day his buddy down at the feed store asked for a demonstration. “Prove to me that your old mule will respond with nothing more than gentle language.”
Out in the field they went; the farmer, his buddy, and the mule. As the friend watched, first in awe and then in horror, the farmer took a huge piece of lumber, a two-by-four about six feet long, and swung it with all his might, hitting the mule on one ear! When the animal stopped braying and bellowing and prancing around, the farmer then said, quietly, “Come here” and the mule came. “Sit.” and the whimpering creature sat. “Back up.” and she backed into the harnesses of a plow and waited calmly for him to hook up. “You see? She’ll respond to a simple voice command.” But his friend objected, “Whatever are you talking about? You said all you had to do was talk to her, but you hit her with this huge two-by-four! What do you mean, you just command her with words?!? That’s not what I saw!”
“Oh, that,” said the farmer. “Well, first I do have to get her attention!”
It seems that quit often God uses the proverbial two-by-four to get our attention because without it we would not listen, we would not follow. We get so busy going about the routines of our lives that God often has to do something dramatic or we wouldn’t even notice that God is calling us. God is calling us to do something. God is calling us out of our mulish stubbornness and is urging us to adjust our lifestyles, and we don’t even notice until that two-by-four thuds against our heads; or in Saul’s case, until a flash of light knocks us to our feet.
In his book, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby says that you must make major adjustments in your life to join in God’s work. And sometimes, coming to a point where we make those adjustments requires some “prodding” from God. Saul of Tarsus found that out very quickly as he made his way to Damascus, and Ananias just a short time later. Saul was a tentmaker and a devout Jew; he was intelligent and relatively wealthy. There was no reason for Saul to make any changes in his life; things were going pretty well for him. And Ananias, a follower of the Way, a Christian; he was experiencing the abundance of life under the new covenant of grace. There was no reason that Ananias’ path would cross with Saul’s, at least not willingly; a Christian would not just go seek out a persecutor of Christians! But in an instant, both of these seemingly comfortable existences were blown out of the water and dramatic change happened; a change that would inaugurate the greatest missionary movement in the history of Christianity. If we are going to join in God’s work, we have to make major adjustments.