In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
What a story! God awakened Ananias and assigned him a task no one in his or her right mind would do. That is, unless they could release their fear and desire for security in favor of faith and trust in God. Ananias had every reason to be afraid of Saul. After all, he’d been roaming the cities and villages just looking to arrest, beat, imprison, and even kill followers of Jesus. But Ananias made a choice. He decided to trust God and obey the prompting he’d received, reaching out to Paul and calling him brother. The result? A life transformed and used by God as the most influential voice for the gospel of all time.
Reflect on a time in your life when you chose faith over fear. What were the circumstances? What do you think accounted for your ability to make that choice?
Who are the people God has called you to engage or build a relationship with, but whom you’ve chosen to stay away from because of fear (maybe it’s a people group, a neighbor, someone whose choices or lifestyle you don’t agree with)? What is the fear? What would one step of faith look like for you?
Who are your faith-builders—the people who encourage you to trust God and overcome fear, who stretch you to relate to those you might otherwise pass by, and who challenge you when you let fear dictate your life? Reach out to those people and set up time to be with them.
God, thank you for the way you use ordinary people to reach the lost and the broken. I want to be someone you use. Forgive me for the ways fear has held me back and kept me apart from those you long to draw near to you. Increase my faith and fill me with the courage I need to act in faith and turn away from fear. Speak to me and I will obey. Amen.