Doing Hard Things

February 3, 2016

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” (Acts 10:9 NRSV)

One of my “Biblical Heroes” is Ananias. Not the one who died in the fifth chapter Acts. The Ananias who is barely mentioned in the ninth chapter of the book of Acts. We have so few details in Acts about his life, so we are left with many questions. Did he know Jesus when Jesus was walking on earth? How did he come to faith in Jesus? How did he get to Damascus? Was he part of the Diaspora of the persecution of the church after the stoning of Stephen? Was he the leader of the church in Damascus?

Though we know very little about him, we know he plays a pivotal role in the spread of the Good News around the world. In words that are a direct parallel of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Ananias also has a vision. Jesus spoke his name. His response was simple and to the point, “Here I am, Lord.”

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I wonder if Ananias wanted to take back his “Here I am, Lord” when Jesus told him to go down to Straight Street and visit Saul who was in Damascus to persecute the church. Can’t you just imagine the questions that were racing through his mind. Why me? Are you sure? Is this a trap? Are you sure? Really sure? Couldn’t someone else go?

Perhaps it is just me. Maybe you are much more inclined to say “Here I am, Lord.”

What we do know about Ananias was that he was faithful and obedient. In spite of his fear and misgivings, he went to Saul and brought him back to the believers. Apparently, he vouched for Saul because Saul was baptized and immediately began to preach within the church.

As we walk this “long journey of obedience in the same direction,”[1] God often asks us to do hard things. Sometimes we are asked to speak truth to power. Sometimes we are asked to leave behind safe places. Sometimes we are asked to do things we simply cannot comprehend. Sometimes we are asked to go to the street called Straight.

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At our recent CrossWalking Movie Night, several churches gathered together to watch the movie Selma. I mentioned in my discussion group after the movie that I didn’t know if I would have had the courage to put my family at risk as Martin Luther King Jr. did by leading the Civil Rights Movement. I was reminded a saint in our group that I did not have to have courage to walk someone else’s journey, but that God would give me the courage to walk my own journey. In other words, God would give me the grace and courage to say “Here I am, Lord” when in needed that courage.

Once Ananias went to Saul, he disappears from the pages of Scripture. We don’t know what else he did or where he went? We do know that Saul took the message of Jesus across the Roman world.

I pray that God will grant me the courage and grace to say, “Here I am, Lord” not once, but throughout my life.

Lord, as we live in challenging times, give us the courage to respond to your call with those powerful words, “Here I am, Lord.” Even when you call us to do hard things, my we have the courage to respond with a mighty “YES!”

Mike 2014

Mike Oldham

Northern Front Range, Southeast Colorado & New Mexico Cluster

Ministry & Mission Coach

[1] A paraphrase of the title of Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

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