From Loss to Gain | Lessons from Acts 9

I’ve been drawn again to the story in Acts 9 where we read about Paul’s conversion, or rather what I like to call Paul’s convergence—his past and present and future meeting with God’s great past, present, and future.

You and I have been swept up in the legacy of what happened on that great Convergence Day.

I’ll just remind us of the story by sharing Acts 9:1,3-6.

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

In Acts 9 we catch Paul as a spiritual leader mid-mission, mid-purpose, mid-stride, mid-leader-in-motion, mid-making-things-happen, mid-getting-things-done—and he’s blinded and knocked off of his horse into the dust.

This is the story of a leader bewildered, unseated, of a leader seemingly downed from a horse when in actuality he’s being lifted into wholeness and fullness and love. He is experiencing, quite literally, an awakening.

Paul is a leader, like us, who believes he is doing what God has given him to do. And in the middle of it, he is arrested, stopped, halted, shocked, taken off-guard, pulled off the field, blinded.

And the experience will become the most seminal moment in his life and leadership—his greatest loss will become his greatest gain.

There are 3 simple principles in this story I think we can lay ahold of as followers of Jesus and as leaders, if we’ll have ears to hear.

1. Sometimes we have to lose our sight to gain a vision

Paul trusted in his capacities and his skills, but sometimes we’re blinded by our circumstances, our pain, our unpredictable situations, and we simply cannot see, we can’t trust what we trusted in before.

In those moments, we are given the opportunity to gain a fresh vision of God. We lose our sight, we gain a vision of God we would never have chosen on our own, and we learn to walk by faith in that vision and not by our own senses, capacities, or experience.

We have to lose our sight to gain a vision.

2. Sometimes we have to lose our time to gain eternity

After Paul’s encounter and some initial ministry, according to Galatians 1, he disappears from the scene for 3 years to learn from the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we’re locked into our own time frames, for all the right reasons, and we quietly demand God follow them. Sometimes we’re in a rush, or more accurately, the rush is in us, and then we’re delayed, slowed, resisted. We fight and rail against it.

In those moments, God puts a different timepiece in our spirits. We begin to measure in long-time, in trust-time, in wait-time, in hope-time, in believe-time, in life-time.

We have to lose our time to gain eternity.

3. Sometimes we have to lose our job to gain a mission

Sometimes we have to lose what we know we were engaged to do, in order to gain the fresh mission of God increasingly growing in our hearts. Or, as a friend once said, for a mission to gain us.

Paul thought he knew who he was, what he was about, what he was for. And in a moment his job, his task, his business card, his metrics for success and achievement, perhaps even value, is removed from him.

Sometimes we have to lose our job to gain a mission.

The moral of this story? Sometimes it takes a crisis to transform us—through suffering—readying us the next season of God’s will being done through us.

Paul must reset in belovedness, in trust. So must you and I. We know the results of his reset. We have yet to know ours.

I believe Love knocked him off the horse, because to change such a soul into someone who writes about love like Paul does in his letters—with such an expansive vision of the all-surpassing affection of God—he must have encountered the Love his soul was longing for in that fresh moment of awakening.

He’s been blinded less by light and more by Love. He’s been unseated less by force and more by Love. He’s been stopped in his tracks less by the hand of God and more by the heart of God.

So maybe you are coming to this moment feeling as though you’ve lost your sight. God is pleased to give you a fresh vision of Himself even within the darkness.

Or perhaps you feel like you’ve lost time, or in some way you’ve been paused or delayed. God is putting eternity in your heart.

Or maybe you feel like you’ve lost your job, or may need to lose your job, or your way, or your task, or your platform, or your direction, or your validation, or your role. God is inviting you deeper into his mission. He is moving you from you having a mission, to a mission having you.

However you come today, let’s give that God, and let’s trust him for our transformation today.

Prayer

Father, we came to this moment in thankfulness that our perceived losses of sight, of time, of purpose as we knew it, they are unfolding in your hands into the gaining of fresh vision, an increased perception of eternity, and an enlistment in your mission to bring awakening to the human heart.

I say, “Yes, Lord. Let Your will be done in me, here on earth as it is being done in heaven.”

And all God’s people said, “Amen.”

::

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RELEASES Jan. 24, 2023 | Brazos press

Endless Grace helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation. It is the awaited companion volume to Sheltering Mercy (Ps. 1-75).

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 76-150, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

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