Hi, my name is Paul and this is my story how I found happiness. Before my trip to Damascus I was a big shot Pharisee type. I was an important man in the Jewish community with a focus at this time on putting an end to this Jesus movement.
Then came that day on the road to Damascus I saw the light (both literally & figuratively). Of course my momma always said don’t look directly into the sun or you’ll burn out your eye balls.. well.. momma was right.
But this light stopped me dead in my tracks like a traffic light on main street .. and there was a voice from the light calling me by name “Saul (my friends used to call me Saul).. why are you persecuting me?” because at this time I was described as.. a man breathing murders and threats against Christians .
This light, this voice, this Jesus had my full attention. So here I am blind as a bat with cataracts and have to be led the rest of the way to Damascus. This is where I met God and to show God’s ironic sense of humor I was instructed to resign from my position as ‘Chief Church Prosecutor / Persecutor’ and make a 180 degree change to my new calling to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to both the Jews and Gentiles.
Once my sight returned I could not stop preaching Jesus Christ. I was of course at first received cautiously by Christians who were unsure of my motives. I guess breathing murders and threats up until this point made a negative impression. GO FIGURE, and now I was a mystery wrapped in an enigma with my Pharisee Lodge brothers.
But in time Christians saw my love for Jesus was real, and the Jewish community realized this was not just a Pharisee mid-life crisis. My life would never be the same. It was a very dangerous, but miraculous time to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
There was even a time where differences between myself and Silas resulted in us prayerfully and respectfully going different directions but still both serving the same God. You might want to call this the beginning of denominations. The church was truly now one body of many parts.
It was a time to sing , and a time of high drama , and a time to stand up to share truth that Jesus is the Messiah!
Side note: I also remember when a young man named Eutychus fell asleep during one of my sermons, fell from a balcony to his death, but .. got better?
Anyways let’s just say from this day forward this young man was known as the unofficial patron saint for those who ‘sleep in church’ . And no hard feelings towards Eutychus, I tend to get a little long winded when I preach.
It was the Tale of Two Ministries where it was the best of times, and the worst of times. It was a time of both great revival and great persecution. And no matter the price or personal loss the gospel message of Jesus Christ must be told to both the Jews (God’s chosen people) and the Gentile (that is everyone else).
It was a time where zealous anger of the religious establishment had me arrested while others plotted my death .
Funny thing is.. these were the best years of my life.
Of course prison life, and being hated by those in power was not on my 'bucket list'.. BUT God was able to use these times to share his Gospel truth like only He could. While I suffered, God gave me peace that none of this was about me, but It was about sharing the greater hope in Jesus Christ.
I even endured a storm at sea , and was shipwrecked on the island of Malta. I believe the name of the boat was the S.S. Minnow, and if not for the courage of the fearless crew we would have all perished . Special thanks go out to the Skipper and his first mate.. who I think the professor called.. Gilligan.
Then while around a fire on this island I was bit by a poisoness snake . Of course God protected me again.. I shook off the snake and the only frustrating after affect was that several of the crew took this as a sign to start a ‘Snake Handler Church’. Oh brother!
After 3 months on this Island we set sail again and made our trip to Jerusalem where again I could plead my case for Jesus and the truth that he was the son of God who came to earth, lived, was crucified for our sins, and was resurrected, and now is in Heaven with the Father.
What a great honor for God to choose me the once great hater of the church to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! God is so good, and I am blessed.
To sum it all up after the Damascus Road I was blinded, beaten, hated, ship wrecked, snake bit, and had a discount punch card for all my time spent in jail… BUT truth be told.. I was too busy serving to really notice.
My prayer today is that God blesses each of your lives with opportunities to serve Him and others in ways that make your lives full and complete. In ways that are beyond your dreams.
Be faithful in the moments that make up your day, and may your happiness never be measured in comfort or wealth but in service to God and others. When you discover this, then you also will be living the best years of your lives.
(loosely translated by some guy sitting in The Back Pew)
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson