Insecurity. Doubt. Fear. Uncertainty. Unfortunately, I know all of these a lot better than I would ever like to admit. Sometimes they pop in and I’m able to send them right back out. Other times, they pop in, invite all of their friends and have a big old party inside my head. Especially when the Lord is calling me to do something outside of my comfort zone, something that will really stretch me. My very first reaction usually goes something like this: “I can’t do that, Lord. I’m not good enough. I’m not equipped for that. There’s no way I could ever be successful at that. I’ll fail. I’ll look stupid. And then what will people think of me?”
I have to think that Saul and Ananias had similar reactions in Acts 9.
Saul, up to that point, was the most aggressive persecutor of believers there was. He had full authority to arrest believers on the spot, and he was the ringleader of Stephen being stoned to death. He was viewed as being completely evil by the believers. He was on his way to Damascus to arrest every believer he could find when Jesus spoke to him. In that moment he was converted and his life was forever changed. God chose him to be instrumental in spreading the gospel, and he surely did end up doing that. But I have to believe that he completely questioned this at first. “Why me, Lord? You know all the atrocities I’ve committed. You know what an enemy I’ve been to you. Surely you’re not choosing me for this. There’s no way I can do this.” I can only imagine that insecurity was having a party in his head way bigger than any that have happened in mine!
And then there’s Ananias. He was a disciple in Damascus. He’s the one God sent to lay hands on Saul, restore his sight, and pray for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I don’t have to wonder about his reaction. He straight up questioned God. He wanted no part of going anywhere near the man who was seen as the believers’ biggest enemy. He was full of doubt and fear and was completely open and honest with God about it.
And here’s the thing with both of them: THEY WERE RIGHT. That’s probably not what you expected me to say, but it’s true.
Saul had ZERO ability on his own to turn his life around to the point that he would end up authoring 2/3 of the New Testament. He had no experience in sharing the gospel. He did not have a strong sense of compassion or empathy. The man wasn’t even kind. He was mean, ruthless, and evil.
Ananias had every reason to doubt and be afraid. Why would he want to be close enough to Saul to get arrested, let alone go seek him out intentionally? He had ZERO reason to have confidence in any result other than Saul being horrible and evil to him, and he surely didn’t have the power to stop anything Saul would want to do.
But, none of this was about Saul or about Ananias. It wasn’t about their power or ability then, and it’s not about mine or yours now. You know that old phrase, “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.” Yeah, Saul and Ananias are exhibits A and B.
God gave them directions that didn’t make sense, that they couldn’t understand, and that they probably didn’t even want to do. But here’s the thing… They did it. They responded in obedience in the middle of their insecurity and doubt and fear and uncertainty. They did it because they knew they didn’t have to rely on their own power or skill or experience to make these things happen. They knew that if they trusted the Lord, all they had to do was to take that one single step in obedience, and he would take over. And they knew they could trust him because they knew what he had already done for them through Jesus. They knew his love. They knew his power. And that’s what they relied on.
It’s no different for me or for you. If the Lord calls us to something, he’s going to equip us for it. If he sends us somewhere, he’ll make a way for us to get there. He’s got the details figured out for us. And he’s got the power to make anything happen through us.
Sometimes we just have to take the first step.