As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 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. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
The Bible contains many accounts of people encountering the Lord in one form or another, but few are quite as compelling as the story of Saul of Tarsus. Full of misguided zeal, he thought that he was serving God by persecuting those who followed the man who claimed to be God’s Son. At the time of this very encounter, Saul was a man on a mission looking for followers of “the way” so that he could take them captive. I try to imagine what was going through his mind at that moment and how suddenly every one of those thoughts must have stopped. A bright light, a loud voice, a tumble to the ground and utter darkness. Saul even stopped eating and drinking for three days.
It is easy to gloss over the fact that Saul neither ate nor drank for three whole days. Without receiving specific details on why this was the case, we must speculate to try to make sense of this. Perhaps either shock or fear gripped him so greatly that he just shut down for a time. Perhaps he was engaged in an intense time of spiritual reflection or inner prayer. Whatever the case, we can see that his introduction to the Lord stopped his world. He abandoned his journey of seeking believers to punish. In his physical state, he was rendered completely helpless and dependent on others for everything. Whatever power and authority he had as that persecutor was now gone.
Many of us have endured experiences that we would say have stopped the world for us because of their extreme nature. Yet, I doubt that most of us have been through an experience such as Saul’s. In a moment and without notice he completely changed the trajectory of his life, the people with whom he would associate, the work he would do and the reputation he would have. The day his vision was restored would be the day that he would live in a whole new world, seeing clearly for the first time. Father, thank You for doing whatever it takes to draw us near, even bringing our world to a screeching halt so that we can experience a new one.