Whenever I read Acts 8 and 9, I wonder if Saul felt the Lord’s eyes on Him. In my Bible, the ESV translation, the title of chapter 8 of Acts is “Saul Ravages the Church,” and I can’t help but think about the Lord waiting patiently to ravage the heart of this man determined to dismantle the church. And as I consider all of this, I replace my own story with Saul’s. I am not out ravaging churches and persecuting Christians, but are all my words and actions always in line with the Lord’s will?
The easy answer: no.
Yet, I feel confident that the Lord’s eyes never waver from me – or from you. He looks at the long history of my story and, while He may feel sadness over decisions I’ve made or lies I’ve believed, I trust that He smirks and thinks, “Yep, she’s still my girl.”
Saul is literally uttering threats of murder against God’s disciples (Acts 9:1) when Jesus approaches him. I don’t know about you, but I struggle to wrap my head around this most days: even as we are fighting against the Lord’s will, He is always in pursuit of our hearts. And He’s not just taking our hearts for His own – even though He certainly could (He’s the King of Creation). He stops to ask questions before He goes about the work of dazzling us into a love story.
He comes for His kids and transforms their stories, breaks new ground in the Kingdom through them, and reminds each of us what a best friend really is.
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4) In Jesus’ question to Saul, I hear tenderness, an acute desire to understand His children, even as they are breaking His heart, and the ability to both ask the hard questions and love without restraint. While Saul’s eventual conversion is both miraculous and awe-inspiring, I also think it is in this space of the story where we can see ourselves and our own conversion stories.
The Jesus who pursued Saul on that road and began to write a love story Saul couldn’t have seen coming is the same Jesus who waits patiently when we hit the snooze button and opt for sleep over time with Him. He is the same Jesus who has more clarity than anyone about the proverbial stains on our manuscripts, yet He still offers His arms when we call to Him. He is the same today as He was then.
He is the only constant in a world filled with people who are constantly changing. He knows the changes coming down the road, He anticipates when we might consider turning away, He knows when we prioritize Him below other things and when the ugliness of humanity will try to get the best of us.
But He does not stop.
He asks the tough questions, He cradles the weak, He comes for His kids. He comes for His kids and transforms their stories, breaks new ground in the Kingdom through them, and reminds each of us what a best friend really is.
So, in this season of life where I’m thinking a lot about pursuit and what it all means for healthy relationships, I’m grateful to Saul, for allowing the Lord to use him as a tangible example of just how feverishly the Lord comes after me. And after you. Hallelujah.
Steph Duff wants to live in a world where every human, whether small or regular-sized, learns to use their voice and is seen and known. When she's not traveling and story telling with Back2Back Ministries, you'll likely find her drinking excessive cups of coffee, with her nose in a book, or daydreaming about India. Her favorite scripture is Habakkuk 1:5, and she prays for a world in which Jesus is the name on every lip. Learn a little more about her love for semi-colons, what stirs her blood, and the yearnings of her heart over at www.stephaniduff.wordpress.com.