Like a kinked garden hose that allows precious little water through, the zealous Pharisee, Saul, had very little openness to, or esteem for, anyone but his fellow Jews and Judaism, the strict, and strictly, Jewish religion. That is, until his blinding encounter with Jesus which, with sickening speed, began the herculean task of dismantling his worldview. Can you imagine the horror upon hearing the response to his question, “Who are you, Lord?” Up until that moment, Saul was 150% certain his mission was righteous, sanctioned by the High Priest in Jerusalem and certified by the sealed letter he carried with him. And he had traveled 190 miles NE of Jerusalem on foot to carry out his holy mission! Upon hearing that unmistakable voice of authority say: “I am Jesus, the Victorious, the one you are persecuting.” I wonder if there was suddenly downloaded into his soul an undeniable seed of truth. He immediately embarked on 72 hours of dreadful darkness in the home of Judas on Straight Street (Abundance Street, as translated from the Aramaic), where he observed a total fast in recognition of the sacred thing that was happening in him. The torment of those days, the shredding of his overweening pride, the humiliation of being so brusquely confronted by his colossal misunderstanding, especially when surrounded by his peers, and likely his own disciples who revered him, had to have been the worst eternity of days he had ever lived. This three-day trial was brought to a close by the prayers of a follower of Jesus (the Victorious one he had been persecuting), the return of his sight, his baptism and a meal to end the fast. It would be more than fascinating to hear Paul (as we most commonly refer to him today) relate details of that experience!
But, for all the intensity of those first 72 hours, nearly 3 decades later Paul will be led to confess that the work being done in him was far from complete, that he continued to press toward that completion, that goal, that prize, that he passionately desired the churches he had planted to do the same. The removal of the blinders of the old worldview was only one part of the overall process. The establishing of the new, kingdom worldview required ‘a long obedience in the same direction.’ That’s so encouraging because it’s been almost 6 decades, for me, of knowing Jesus (and y’all know that ‘work’ remains unfinished!). In Philippians 1:6 TPT, Paul writes these amazingly comforting words: “I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Wow! Wow! And Wow! PD