«Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD» (Proverbs 8:34, 35).
One day, as he was on his way to Damascus with the intention of capturing Christians, Saul of Tarsus saw a strange light whose power threw him to the ground. Then he heard a voice: «Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?» «Who are you, Lord?» Saul answered.
«I am Jesus, whom you persecute. Get up and go into the city, and there you will be told what to do.»
No other member of the caravan managed to see or hear what was happening. The truth is that Saul was blind for three days and, in fact, many Bible scholars believe that he suffered from vision problems for the rest of his life. At that moment, he felt vulnerable and left his pride behind. Little by little he began to assimilate the great truths of Scripture and to eliminate his prejudices. He discovered that Jesus Christ was the Messiah predicted in Isaiah 53, and he began to see Him throughout the sacred text. Finally, Saul had a second encounter with Jesus, but this time at the level of his conscience. He accepted Him as his personal Savior and begged forgiveness for his sins. He acknowledged that he had been mistaken. He also decided to dedicate his life to preaching the gospel.
From that day on, his life began to change. As a transformed man, he decided to use a new name: Paul—a Roman name that means «small.» Paul traveled through Asia Minor preaching Jesus Christ in the midst of great dangers. He was cruelly whipped three times and miraculously endured; on one occasion they stoned him and left him half dead; in addition, he survived three shipwrecks (2 Corinthians 11:24). His life was suddenly full of many dangers: many people put a price on his head, starting with his countrymen; but he was also pursued by bandits, soldiers, and false brethren. He suffered hunger, thirst, cold, and nakedness. Within the same church that he helped build, he suffered criticism, accusations, and contempt. They accused him of being liberal, disrupting the church, and an enemy of the Hebrew norms and rites.
Paul was captured in Jerusalem, but as a Roman cozen, he appealed to Caesar and was taken to Rome where he did not receive any great favors. According to tradition, he was confined to the Mamertine Prison in the Roman forum and was chained as a common criminal.
What about you? Have you had an encounter with Jesus? It could be that, if you allow Heaven to lead your life, you are a chosen instrument to preach the gospel in the hands of God. The decision is yours.