"SAUL, still breathing threats & MURDER against the disciples of the LORD, went to the high priest & 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. [...] But the LORD said, "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." (Acts 9:1-2, 15-16)
Saul killed Christians simply because they were Christians. He hated Jesus and everything Jesus stood for and everyone who called on His name. And yet, Jesus said that Saul was one of God's chosen instruments. Who would have ever guessed that this wicked man who hated Jesus would—with the help of the Holy Spirit—write so much of the Holy Bible that has led us and continues to lead billions to believe in Jesus as LORD? Jesus did. Saul was renamed Paul, and he repented and became a good man, as good as any of us at least, as well as a Christian, but why would God call such an evil man to do His work in the first place?
We can't know all God's reasons for doing anything, but we do know that from that day on, Paul loved God more than his own life, and that through his work, he has helped to lead billions of people to eternal life through Christ. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance,” Paul writes in his first letter to Timothy. “That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
Paul's passion is personal when he tells us through Scripture that Jesus loves us all in spite of that one huge thing we've done wrong and those hundred little things we continue to do wrong each day. Paul knows better than any of us that Jesus’ mercy is limitless, that Jesus has already made up for all those horrible, terrible things we think no one can possibly forgive. In fact, Paul tells us that’s exactly what Jesus died for. And Paul, wicked though he began and imperfect though he remained, is in heaven right now, still loved completely by the same Jesus he at one time hated, the same Jesus whom he knew died for his sin of hate.
There is a Saul inside each of us, that's true, but there is an instrument of God, too. Because the work of God through Paul, you and I today know who God is without all the pomp and circumstance of being struck blind on the road. We simply require one baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And after that baptism, we still choose to make some mistakes, and we still make some we can’t help but make (Romans 7:15), and there are some we choose to avoid altogether. Each day is filled with new opportunities do the right thing. It’s never too late to become a Paul because God will speak to you each and every day no matter what you did wrong yesterday.
So today, if You hear Jesus telling you to change your ways, if God knocks you off your metaphorical mule, if you see His bright light or even just a dim one, take that cue and let Him change your heart. Say a prayer, go to church, be kind to a neighbor, confess that sin that plagues you and believe in that absolution, forgive that one who has wronged you, tell your friend about what Jesus has done. Repent and turn again, not for the sake of your salvation which is already won for you by Christ, but for the love of Jesus who died for each time you were Saul.
Suggested verse to repeat when you're a little more Saul than Paul is from Acts 3:19a
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"Repent therefore,-------> 5 count inhale
and turn again." -------> 5 count exhale