Let’s take a step back. To Paul’s BC (before Christ) days. Paul was a fanatical Jew who blindly persecuted the church of that time and who defended it with everything he had. He would’ve done anything to anyone who said anything different from his church.
He believed in the law of God and nothing else. Although he had not met Jesus, he made it his responsibility to eliminate Jesus’ followers from the face of the earth. He took it upon himself to eradicate this sect and not in a pretty way. On the contrary.
According to Acts 9:1 he was like a man possessed and threatened to kill Jesus’ followers. He was involved in killing the first martyr, Stephen, who was stoned to death.
He slandered Jesus and persecuted and insulted his followers: 13The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance.
This man who teaches us so much, the one we go to in order to learn about Jesus and how we should live today, this is what his past looks like. Not a pretty picture.
If we look at this picture, Paul does not look like the best candidate for writing Jesus’ story and the coming centuries’ manual for Jesus’ followers. I am convinced there were many other people much better qualified to do the work. Maybe a few university professors, who understood the original text better, knew the history, and who were even cleverer than the philosophers of that time.
But God chose to meet Saul on the road to Damascus and to shower him with love. So much so that God even changed his name and that he was unable to speak for a few days.
That is what happens when you meet God.
Paul witnessed further: 13But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Paul thought he was doing the right thing. He was fighting for the church. He was trying to keep the church free of sects. Do you see how easily we support the wrong thing?
Fortunately, God helped Paul. He felt sorry for him and met him on the road to life. Despite what he had done in the past, God met Paul, 13 trusting me with this ministry. God enables incapable people. God uses people who are on a different road to come and work for Him on his road. God uses people despite what they had done in the past to make a difference for Him in the world, an enormous difference.
And when we look back on Paul’s life, we realise he was actually the best man for the job. He knew the dusty streets and he knew the people. He knew their way of thinking. He knew where they went wrong. He knew their language and their way of living. When he spoke, they heard, because he was one of them.
God can also use you where you live, work and play, because that is where you are the best woman or man for the job. You know those dusty streets and you know the people. You know how they think. You know where they go wrong. Just like you might have done. You know their language and way of life. When you speak, they hear, because you are one of them.
God calls you, despite your past and despite what you think. God wants to use you right where you are.
What does your past look like?
What does your present look like?
Where does God want to use you?
Lord, thank you that You can use my past to make a difference in other people’s lives today. I know You are calling me, like You called Paul, to make a difference by using my own experience to better understand and to better help others. Amen.