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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, July 7, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Acts 9:1–9           

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (NRSV)

Paul’s conversion was dramatic. He heard God’s voice, was blinded for three days, and in that time neither ate nor drank. Saul, who persecuted Christians, became the Apostle Paul, who converted people to become Christians. God totally transformed Paul’s identity and purpose in life.

You may envy such a dramatic transformation. Or you may assume after a significant experience that God is calling you to change dramatically. I expected the latter after my first week in Haiti, where I served alongside the Sisters of Charity. The slums were abhorrent, the oppression evil, the hunger tragic, the filth dangerous. I had expected God would call me to sell all my possessions and give the money to the poor, or something similarly dramatic. Instead a new peacefulness came upon me. As my journal records, “Somehow, in washing feet and feeding dying women, in meeting two ministers who have deep faith and hope in God in this land, I have sensed God’s presence. . . . I came to Haiti to be broken. and instead I am more healed. Perhaps my healing is the breaking—breaking down barriers between myself and another person, breaking down my yearning, striving, dissatisfaction with life.”

A spiritual director told us at the end of our time in Haiti to beware of thinking that God was calling us to do something dramatically different. If you are way off course from living as God hopes, God may meet you in a dramatic way to get your attention and require a big change. But if you have been trying to attend regularly to God in your life, then change will come more like a drop of water continually landing on a sponge. To grow spiritually, don’t do anything. Just notice.

O God, make me attentive through the ordinary to your transforming presence. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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