Acts 9:7, “And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.”
The presence of Christ in any given environment changes the attitude and perception of those who are present. This truth is one that remains a constant, from age to age and generation to generation. The presence of a burning fire in a dark and cold room changes the character of the edifice, bringing light and warmth where once there was darkness and cold.
It is inevitable that once the light of Christ shines in a soul, those who journey with him or her, those who are close and know this individual on a personal level, will witness the change and transformation. Some will stand speechless unable to perceive what is happening, while others will inquire as to the origin of the power that was so able to transform and make whole. What do those who journey with us, see in us? Is Christ daily evident in our actions, conduct, speech and walk?
If we have encountered the Christ, and He has revealed Himself to us, such an experience cannot be hidden from those closest to us. The encounter and the subsequent changes in one’s life can’t help but be noticed, even by the most undiscerning among us. Even if they don’t understand the specifics of what has occurred in your life, they must see or hear something different, perhaps to them even unusual in your countenance and conduct. An encounter with the Savior, transforms the life of an individual from its very foundation, and such a drastic change cannot go unnoticed.
A true Christian is an individual who having had an encounter with the Christ, has been transformed and has become a new creation, no longer shackled to the darkness, no longer subject to the desires of the old flesh, no longer fearful and wandering. Our encounter with Christ is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives, what is old, that which was, is wiped away and cast into the sea of forgetfulness, and what is before us is revealed in a new and clear light.
The men who journeyed with Saul saw no one, yet they heard the voice. May the prayer of our hearts always be to hear the voice of God, even if we do not see with our physical eyes. Spiritual acuity is necessary for every believer in times such as these, for it encourages them to lean not on the things they can see, or on the things they can touch, but to step out in faith, and obey the voice of the heavenly Father. By trusting in our physical senses, and stifling our spiritual ones, we often find ourselves in confusing and uncertain situations, not knowing what our next step should be, or what course of action we ought to undertake.
There is something I learned through over two decades of ministry, and that is what seems as the right course of action for the senses, for the physical mind, and the understanding of man, will often conflict with the spiritual mind, and the instruction and direction of God. The physical mind can only perceive and come to a conclusion based on the information at hand, while the spiritual mind, inspired by the power of God comes to a conclusion based on the situation as a whole, from start to finish seeing beyond the capacity of the physical mind. What may seem perfectly right to the physical mind today, might have tragic consequences tomorrow or the day after, while what seems counterintuitive to the physical mind might turn out to be a blessing and a means by which God can manifest His power and authority.
There is one example that springs to mind, that of the orphanage our ministry built in Romania. To the human mind, to the physical senses and the analytical and deductive parts of the brain, breaking ground on a mammoth building, when you only had a few dollars in the bank would seem foolish and ill conceived. Yet by faith, we obeyed the voice of God, countermanding the obvious setbacks of what our physical mind perceived as an impossible endeavor, and as such saw the hand of God perform miracle upon miracle, until the building was complete. Because we chose to step out in faith, to operate by faith and not by sight, there are now around one hundred children that are being fed, clothed, offered a place to sleep, and being taught the Word of God in that orphanage.
When God commands us to do something, we cannot begin the endeavor by pointing out all the reasons the flesh thinks it is going to fail, but by perpetually reminding ourselves that nothing is impossible to our God. It matters not if what I am doing seems foolish and impossible in the eyes of the world, all that matters is that God commissioned it, and commanded it. If it is God’s will, He will make a way.
There are countless examples in the Word, wherein faith and obedience accomplished, what many perceived as impossible. From Noah building the Ark, to Gideon and his small band of warriors vanquishing an overwhelming enemy force, to young David vanquishing Goliath, to the walls of Jericho falling, and countless other examples, all it took was faith and obedience.
Acts 9:8, “Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.”
One encounter with Christ was more than enough to fell Saul to the ground, only to arise a new man, ready for a new work. Everything he had believed had been shattered; from his opinions on Christ and His followers to the way he viewed the world. Even though he was felled to the ground, Saul did not remain there. Even if one’s encounter with Christ first produces such felling of the flesh, which it always does, he or she soon arises from the ground, and begins to walk the path the Savior commanded.
Arise from everything that is of this earth. Arise from everything that keeps your heart tethered to this plain, even if you do not perceive all of God’s truths, even if you do not see, arise and follow. After you arise, you will be told what you must do, but fist you must arise.
It is not the place where you encountered Christ that is of significance, but the fact that you encountered him, and the transformation that took place in your heart as a result of this encounter. After Saul of Tarsus had his encounter with the Savior, he was sent to Damascus, and from Damascus into the entire world. His heart was not tied to that spot on the road to Damascus where he encountered Jesus, nor to Damascus itself where he was sent. His heart was tethered to eternity and to his beloved Savior, the One who saved him from sin, and blinding him opened his eyes.
If we encountered Christ in a certain denomination, may we be cautious that are hearts not become tethered to that denomination, or to any man in particular. Christ’s desire is not for us to bind our hearts to places, or to men, but to Him, ready and willing to hear His word, and obey His commands.
Anything that takes the pace of Christ in our hearts, anything that acts as a surrogate or replacement for the person and essence of Jesus, becomes an idol, even if it happens to be the work of Christ, rather than the person of Christ. First the person of our Lord Jesus must be preeminent in our hearts, then His work, whenever He so chooses to send us. This is a truth that even the most seasoned of servants tend to overlook in their desire to do the work of God. We cannot neglect our personal relationships with Christ, in lieu of laboring on His behalf, because if the relationship is neglected, soon the spirit grows weak, the cup runs dry, and we are relying on our on strength rather than His strength, on our own wisdom, rather than His wisdom.
Saul’s physical sight was taken from him. He could see no one, he was by all accounts blind, but in return he had received a new and spiritual sight, a light that shone in his heart, one, which he had not possessed prior to encountering Christ. One can have perfect vision, yet still be blind to spiritual things. In order to perceive spiritual things, one must possess spiritual vision, the eyes of the new creation born of faith in Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
John 1:12-13, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
When God removes sight, even if your eyes are open, you see nothing. When God gives sight however, even if your eyes are closed, you are readily able to see more clearly than those with perfect sight. When the light of God shines within a soul, it makes them blind to the earthly things, it makes them blind to the temptations of sin, and the old life they left behind.
Putting one foot in front of the other Saul nears Damascus, led by the hand, at the mercy of those journeying with him, making his entrance into the city very different than how he had fist envisioned it. Saul did not enter Damascus as one who would conquer, and vanquish, as the leader of a military contingent, not as one who would imprison and subjugate others, but as one who had been vanquished, whose pride had been shattered, blind and led by the hand as a babe barely able to stand on its own two feet.
When a man or woman begins their journey, their new life in Christ, they are often in need of aid from those who have already grown and matured in the faith. Some need to be taken by the hand and led down the path, until they are able to see it for themselves, and walk it faithfully thereafter. God always sends His servants to lead the one who has encountered Christ, to the place they must go. May we be humble and discerning enough to know when we are called to be signposts, and guides, when we are called to take the babes in Christ by the hand and lead them on the path of righteousness.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.