During the midst of the dust bowl of Oklahoma of 1929, I was born to my parents who taught school. They learned the hard way to ‘make-do’, a key phrase for survival in those days. It didn’t phase me, I thought every little girl sat on a huge flour barrel at the kitchen table. I thought every little girl’s mother sewed beautiful little dresses for their daughters. Mom pedaled for miles on the Old Treadle Singer Sewing Machine. I thought everyone had a pet goat that also gave milk.
Before attending school, I learned another lesson. On the neighbor’s back porch I saw a rubber band. I picked it up. How intriguing the snap and elasticity of a single rubber band was – until Mom saw me. That was my first lesson in right and wrong - not stealing...anything. Mom’s instructions were followed, I gave the rubber band back and apologized! That was my first lesson in humility.
When I was in the first grade, I learned another next lesson. The copy ‘machine' was a pan of gel-like substance. When the teacher rubbed a piece of paper over the surface, a lovely drawing of an apple appeared. Our instructions were to color the apple red. I picked up the beautiful box of new crayons and studied each one. I chose the most beautiful rosy-hued crayon and began coloring. The teacher pronounced it wrong. It wasn’t a true red. I tried to right the wrong and asked for another page to color. The answer was no. Unforgiven I went home with a beautiful apple colored in-the-lines, with the wrong shade of red.
We long to make wrongs right, and we want to be forgiven. We want to be blameless. If I had known how to read and look for a red crayon, I would have known. I chose on my own. If I had been enlightened to know what the teacher had in mind, I could have found a bright red.
There was a man that felt he was doing the right thing by arresting men and women who followed Jesus and took them back to Jerusalem in chains. He was bent with all his heart on this mission. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Acts 9:3-4
This was personal! The light caused him to be blinded. The men with Saul heard the voice but saw no one. Saul asked, “Who are you, lord?” The voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” When Saul opened his eyes, he was blind and could not see. His companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He did not eat or drink for three days.
Talk about being stopped in your tracks. Saul had studied with Gamaliel the Rabbi and mastered Jewish History, Psalms and the work of the prophets. He thought he was doing the will of God by dragging those who believed in Jesus to prison. He felt he was being obedient until the light from Heaven shone around him and he fell to the ground and stopped his mission.
No matter how learned Saul was, he was blind to the truth. Jesus had work for Saul to do and he had more to learn. Saul had learned to be a debater, a learned scholar and now he would use his gifts to proclaim the words of Jesus. That was not written in his day-planner.
The Lord spoke to Ananias, a believer in Damascus, “Go to Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul…he is praying right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” (Acts 9:11-12). Ananias was afraid. He had heard of Saul who had the power to arrest Christians. Then the Lord gave Ananias the job description: But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.” Acts 9:15.
Ananias went to Saul. “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (v17). Immediately Saul could see and he was baptized. He ate and regained strength and began preaching Jesus. Imagine the belief, the faith in Jesus both men had. The light of the Lord opened Saul’s eyes and he knew the truth.
Even at his birth, this same Jesus was announced by an angel bathed in the Radiance of Light. Then a host of more angels, the armies of heaven, came saying - Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” A bright star shone in the East, and led the wise men from eastern lands to come to worship Jesus.
- You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. Psalm 18:23
- The Word gave life to everything that was created and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:4-5
- Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12
- I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. John 12:46
- For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
- The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Psalm 27:1
Learning His Way of Love begins early and lasts for an eternity. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.