Acts 26: 15-18
“I said, ‘Who are you, Master?’ “The voice answered, ‘I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you. I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’
Every time I have reflected on this passage the past two weeks, I feel ignited with energy. I love it when the energy gives me courage to “stand up on my feet” and “do the job” I believe Jesus has for me. I don’t love it when it is angry, frustrated, I-am-spinning-my-wheels energy and I feel confused, helpless, overwhelmed and paralyzed from moving forward.
I remember one specific day last week when I took a slow drive on an abandoned road so I could release the grief in my gut and hear myself groan out loud, “God, I just want to love, to be loved and to be purposeful with my life right now.” Just hearing myself blurt that out loud in the midst of what seemed like “cries of anguish” created the space for me to sense that God was right there with me, validating my deep desires and comforting me. It was as if God was saying, “Yes Lisa. I know that is what you want and I love that this is what you want. So, when you feel rested and ready, drive back home, get out of the car, stand up and do the next thing I give you to do.”
Sounds beautiful but how does that translate into real life? What do I do exactly?
Every time I return to this example of Jesus launching Paul into a complete 180 with his life, I remember who I am — someone able to love and be loved. Someone able to live purposefully no matter what.
Another great example of someone following Paul’s example is Julian of Norwich. She is described as “emotionally raw, often tempted by self-doubt and discouragement, yet constantly renewed in hope. She does something extremely dangerous for a layperson living in the fourteenth century: she discloses her conflict between the predominant medieval idea of a judgmental and wrathful God and her direct experience of the unconditional love of Christ on the cross. . . .” (Richard Rohr Daily Meditation May 11, 2020, Sign up for the Daily Mediations, a Weekly Summary, and the CAC News)
I wonder…What are the 180 degree turns our risen Lord is inviting us to take as we stand up yoked to him and moving forward to do the jobs He has handpicked for us even in the face of accusations?
Lisa Dodge Pinkham, Christian Formation Coordinator