By Chuck Swindol
The ninth chapter of Acts begins abruptly. Saul’s blood is boiling. He’s on a murderous rampage toward Damascus. He charged north out of Jerusalem with the fury of Alexander the Great sweeping across Persia and the determined resolve of William Tecumseh Sherman in his scorching march across Georgia. Saul was borderline out of control. His fury had intensified almost to the point of no return. Such bloodthirsty determination and blind hatred for the followers of Christ drove him hard toward his distant destination: Damascus. If you were a follower of Jesus living anywhere near Jerusalem, you wouldn’t have wanted to hear Saul’s knock at your door.
We read this: “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ ” (Acts 9:3–4). You can almost hear the screeching of brakes. At that moment, Saul’s murderous journey was brought to a divine halt.
Suddenly. Isn’t that just like the Lord? No announcement ahead of time. No heavenly calligraphy scrolled across the skies with the warning, “Watch out tomorrow, Saul, God’s gonna getcha.” God remained silent and restrained as Saul proceeded with his murderous plan to invade Damascus. Surely he discussed the details with his companions. God didn’t interrupt . . . until. At the hour it would have its greatest impact, God stepped in. Without warning, the course of Saul’s life changed dramatically.
That still happens, even in our day. Without warning, life takes its sudden turns. Maybe it’s a tragic auto accident that claims the life of your mate. Suddenly, God steps onto the scene and arrests your attention. Or it may come through the death of a child. In the hour of deepest grief, your life and the lives of your family are impacted forever. Occasionally, life’s unexpected turns come in the horrible crash of an airplane, causing a calamity that wipes out half a neighborhood. Or in the halting words of your physician as she admits, “You have cancer.” Like a rogue wave, adversity crashes onto the peaceful shores of our lives and knocks us flat. Amazingly, the jolt awakens our senses, and we suddenly remember that God is in control, no matter what.