Sunday’s Scripture ~ Acts 9:1-20
I grew up in a household where my mother always left a light on if she knew we were coming home after dark. That way we could unlock the door, make our way safely into house, and unload whatever we were carrying without stepping on a feline friend or catching our feet on a piece of furniture.
Thanks Mom! I appreciated that!
Sadly, I have yet to apply that practice to my own life. If I arrive home and it’s already dark the front room of my house – which is so pleasant and inviting during daytime hours – becomes a void of doom! I have to walk to the center of the house to find a light to turn on because our house was built in the 1950’s and there isn’t a central ceiling fixture in the front room. Some days I traverse this expanse with ease. Other days…it’s a wonder I am not caught up in traction in a local hospital with a broken arm, leg, or neck!
Everything changes when I come in contact with a light source. I know with certainty the where the furniture is, where our four-legged children are, what my relation is to everything else. I don’t have to guess. I don’t have to wonder.
Until the time of Saul’s conversion he presented himself as one walking with sure and certain footing, but in reality he was stumbling and fumbling through life like me in my living room. And then he experienced and came into contact with the light – the light of Christ. He was illuminated. His surroundings were illuminated. He saw – truly saw.
God revealing Godself in a visible way is known in theological parlance as a theophany. As we read Scripture we see many instances of theophany:
1. God walking with Adam and Eve in Eden
2. Jacob wrestling with God
3. Moses and the Burning Bush
4. The Incarnation of Christ
5. Jesus’ resurrection appearances
When God shows up in each of these stories, God shows up in a very dramatic way! But that’s not God’s sole modus operandi. We read in I Kings 19 that the prophet Elijah experienced all sorts of drama – a whirlwind, earthquake, and fire! But God wasn’t found in any of these. God was found in the still, small voice.
The learnings this offers:
1. Our God is uncontainable. Our God can show up and reveal Godself however God determines. When we attempt to limit how God reveals Godself or determine the time when God reveals Godself, we too narrowly focus our own vision and may miss what God is doing right before our eyes.
2. Theophanies, encounters with God, how persons come into relationship with God are not one-size-fits-all! Yes, you may have a very dramatic story along the lines of Saul or Moses where God took your breath away…or knocked the breath out of you. “I was headed for destruction. God intervened in a mighty way and saved my life!” Or your experience may be more intimate and measured and steady. “I was raised in the faith; this is the life I have always known and I am thankful for it.” Neither experience is better than the other. Neither experience is more valid than the other. Both are expressions of how our God meets us, heals us, claims us, transforms us.
God invites each and everyone of us into the light so that we can cease stumbling through life. In God’s light there is purpose and direction. In God’s light we can share in the clear vision of Saul, the vision that Christ gave to us in the Greatest Commandment and Great Commission. In God’s light we can identify the moment of our initial theophany and then train our eyes to seek other places that God is revealing Godself in our lives to lead us further.
Prayer: “Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me; place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free. Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!”* Amen.
* “Open My Eyes, That I May See,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 454.