Acts 26:16 – Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. (NIV)
When I was growing up, I had a great friend called Gus, who used to fall all of the time. He was one of the last people in my generation to suffer from polio, which meant that one of his legs was very weak, and it would give way every now and then, causing Gus to fall flat on his face.
He was given a stabilizer for his leg, which was supposed to support him, but he refused to wear it. He walked with an exaggerated limp that must have been painful at times, and he was forever tripping up. But every time he fell, Gus would pick himself up, dust himself off, and laugh.
Gus and I played soccer together. He was a great goalie. Because he fell so many times, he had no fear of crashing to the deck. I could kick the ball as hard as I could, and Gus would dive through the air, catch the ball, and come tumbling to the ground. I was amazed at his fearlessness, and when it came to picking sides for our street team, Gus was always chosen to be goalkeeper. He and I practiced for hours, day after day, which built up his strength and muscles. In later years, when he and his family moved away, he still had the limp, but he stopped falling. I guess all those practice times helped him to find his confidence and balance, which made him a stronger and sturdier person.
When Saul falls flat on his face on the road to Damascus, he doesn't want to get up. He is terrified of the dazzling vision and is totally helpless because he is blind. In his bewilderment, he cries out, "Who are you, Lord?" because he knows he is being confronted by something more powerful than himself. At that moment of fear and despair, Christ beckons Saul to stand up to receive a special calling that will eventually change the world. He is lifted up out of the dust of deception and carried by Christ onto the road of redemption. He is made sturdier in faith and stronger in his convictions because, from that moment on, Saul becomes Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.
Sometimes God's greatest work begins just after we have fallen. He is willing to come to us and lift us up, to carry on His work and ministry through the gifts, talents, and calling that Christ wants us to accept, embrace, and accomplish.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, come into our lives, especially when we have been brought low by despair or deception, denial or depression. Reach down and lift us up, so that we may be restored to Your service and returned to Your kingdom. In Your holy name, we reach out and pray. Amen.
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