The road to where he was going was hot and dusty. His mind was racing over what he had just seen. Never in his life had he witnessed anything like it. He knew this road well. From a young age he had first travelled it going in the other direction when his father had enrolled him into the tutelage of Israel’s leading professor and an expert in Torah Law. He had been taught well. Which was why, as an adult, he was now travelling north from the Holy City to the capital of Syria to track down and imprison — and if necessary — execute the members of this growing band of infidels who were seeking to destroy his beloved religion and to defy the God he had dedicated himself to. But something was troubling him. He had just overseen the execution of one of these renegades in his usual manner. But never had he seen a condemned and bleeding man so in control of a situation; and, never had he seen a man who was surrounded by an angry mob look to so calm so peaceful so confident and so … forgiving. In his final seconds of life he uttered those words. It was those words that had set his mind racing as he travelled with his two companions, each of them on horseback, as they neared Damascus. And then it happened! Boom! Knocked off his horse at the force of it. Blinded by the intensity of the light. And the voice that silenced everything else that spoke simultaneously into his “dream ears” and his “awake ears”. From this booming moment his life was ever changed. Few believed it, least of all those in Damascus who dreaded his arrival. But it was real. And it was but the first of a series of dramatic transformations wrought by the ‘boom’ of the Holy Spirit. And this ‘holy boom’ continues to surprise, in surprising places, at surprising moments, and with the most surprising choice of people!
And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
¶ And Saul approved of his execution.
¶ And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
BEHIND THE BOOM
When Saul began his murderous rampage against the Christ-followers, some of these believers began to pray for Saul to be blessed and to come to know Christ as Saviour, as Jesus had commanded His followers to do (Matt. 5:44). I wonder how many Victorian Christians are praying now in a similar way for Premier Dan Andrews? I wonder how many Tasmanian believers pray like this for that person who annoys them? Behind the ‘boom’ that the Saul of Tarsus encountered was a band of unnamed believers who were praying for him.
¶ But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.
We Christians have good reason for thinking that people’s conversion journey is often a step-by-step pathway leading to that divine appointment of new birth; but, we also need to recognise that the Holy Spirit can also ‘boom’ convert someone without this step-by-step process. This is evidenced by those people who once regarded God, spirituality, and especially Christianity, as nonsense or perhaps irrelevant, or maybe even something worse — then seemingly in a ‘boom moment’ of Holy Spirit transformation they are instantly converted to being passionate lovers of God, His Word, His people, and His Cause! Saul of Tarsus appears to be such an example but he is by no means the only one. This past week I heard two other similar testimonies of people who were suddenly converted to Christ. A few months ago I heard the remarkable testimony of Becket Cook who even used the word “boom” to describe his experience with the Holy Spirit when he was suddenly converted to Christ (I recommend subscribing to his Youtube channel).
And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing.
So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
¶ Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias.
The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight.
Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.
¶ For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
LET’S BE BEHIND ‘THE BOOM’
We can each be among the unnamed believers behind the Holy Spirit ‘booms’ that could take place right around Tasmania among those who currently give no thought to God, His Word, His Church, His Cause. As we pray and intercede on behalf of these hardened, indifferent, pre-believers, that Holy Spirit continues to do what He does often in a way that we cannot see. But when the boom takes place it was as Jesus told Nicodemus-
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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