God still radically changes people.
Remember the conversion of Saul as he rode to Damascus by horseback? My husband and I were privileged to see a fresco of this scene at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Fresco is a technique of mural painting upon wet plaster. Water and the dry-powder pigment are merged with the plaster; when the plaster sets, the mural becomes part of the wall.
The word fresco is derived from the Italian adjective fresco meaning “fresh” and differs from Italian Renaissance fresco-secco or secco mural painting techniques, which are applied to dried plaster.
Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything (Acts 9: 1-9 NIV).
Murderous threats. This man was not an ordinary guy living his life, working a job and raising a family. He was a bad dude, killing Christians who back then were known as “followers of The Way”. Yet, his behaviors did not deter or intimidate God in the least.
Verse fifteen of Acts 9 reveals Paul’s inescapable destiny. “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Seeing the colossal image stayed with me.
I’ve been thrown from a horse. The impact from seven feet is painful.
If God was determined to alter one man’s course, then He surely can change anyone. Nothing is impossible for Him. No circumstance too bleak, no heart too hard.
A second towering fresco by artist Benjamin Long, IV is also displayed in the church lobby.
After his baptism in the Holy Spirit, Paul’s renown grew for a different reason. Instead of treachery, he gained notoriety for his preaching in synagogues and writings concerning Jesus the Messiah. So much so that “Jews tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.” (Acts 9:30 NIV).
Why does this matter?
Just as Acts chapter nine and these frescoes portray before and after glimpses of who Saint Paul was, I have witnessed first-hand the softening of a human heart. I know someone who used to harbor resentment and ill-will who no longer does. Not only has their behavior changed, but their face is brighter. Their outward appearance is noticeably different. I love how Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26 read: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
This has impacted my heart to tears of joy at seeing prayer answered! I am overwhelmed at the faithfulness of God, at His POWER to intervene in our affairs. “Nothing is impossible with God” is mentioned three times in scripture. Matthew 19:26 says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” Mark 10:27 and Luke 18:27 tell us, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God”; Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Let your faith rise today. When God says that He makes us a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), He means it!
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Rather than thinking about how bad the situation looks, chew on these words of Jesus until in your mind’s eye you can see your loved one change. Don’t let your fear or unbelief shrink God’s ability. He is massively able and willing! Our God IS an awesome, Almighty God!
Christian inspirational writer of truth that makes darkness tremble. Author of Lion in My Garden devotional.