The Word Among Us

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The Conversion of St. Paul

An extraordinary turn of events

The Conversion of St. Paul: An extraordinary turn of events

Suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:3-4)

What an extraordinary turn of events! In Jerusalem, Saul had murder in his heart for Christians. Yet, by the time he arrived in Damascus, he was ready to become one of the boldest and most zealous Christians the world has known.

What caused such a transformation? It was nothing less than a dramatic encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. As Saul was on the road toward Damascus, the glory of the Lord flashed about him like a blinding light and struck him to the ground. Then Jesus personally spoke to Saul in such a way that he would never be the same again. This experience was so powerful that Saul was temporarily blinded and needed the prophetic ministry of a Christian named Ananias to restore his sight.

If Jesus can so radically change an enemy and persecutor of the Church as vehement as Saul, think of what he can do in us—people who are already members of his body and washed clean in the waters of Baptism! God wants to make us fully alive in his Spirit. He wants to so fill us with his life that we would naturally manifest the joy of knowing Jesus personally and demonstrate to others the vitality of his life. Each one of us is capable of knowing Jesus just as deeply as Paul did and experiencing his life and his power. This same Jesus who personally touched Saul is ready and able to transform each of us, setting us on fire with his love.

The keys to receiving more of the Lord and the power of his life are to hunger for him, to strive to obey his word and, simply, to ask for more. In every age, countless Christians can testify to having encountered Jesus in a new and powerful way, such that their lives changed dramatically. Many, like Saul, have been radically transformed and empowered for some role of service as part of the mission of the body of Christ. This power of the risen Lord is available to each of us. Let us ask him, even beg him, to touch us afresh so that we will be greatly changed. Jesus can do it!

To get started, declare that you believe that Jesus wants to give you more of his power and life. Spend some time renouncing any doubts and fears you may have, and then ask him to fill you with more of him.

From the moment of Paul’s conversion, prayer became his constant companion (Acts 9:11). In one of his letters, Paul urged his Christian brothers and sisters to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Make daily prayer a priority in your life! Begin to look for ways you can improve your prayer life. Some simple actions could be to become more consistent about praying by setting aside a regular time each day for prayer. Find a comfortable place to pray that is out of the busy areas of your home. Turn off phones or other devices connected to the internet (or leave them in another room), keep a Bible and notebook at hand so that you can look up or read Scriptures and jot down thoughts that occur to you as you pray.

Spend a few minutes at the beginning of your prayer time to examine your conscience and repent of anything the Holy Spirit might show you. When Jesus asked Paul, “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4), he was indicating that an attack against his loved ones is also an assault against him. We are members of Jesus’ body, joined to him. When we slander a brother or sister in Christ, we hurt Jesus. Repent of any times you may have ridiculed or attacked a fellow member of Christ’s body.

And then, ask the Lord Jesus for a deeper touch of his power and glory as you pray. He will never fail you. But he might just change you radically, so that you may love and serve him all the days of your life.