“Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, ‘Ananias!’ ‘Yes, Lord!’ he replied. The Lord said, ‘Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.’” – Acts 9:10-12 (NLT)
Sometimes God calls us to go be a help to someone we’d rather not get involved with. Such was the story for Ananias of Damascus. God spoke to him in a vision and told him to lay hands on a man by the name of Saul. Saul had lost his sight and Ananias was to restore it. The only problem was that Saul had a reputation for being a wicked persecutor of Christians. Ananias didn’t know Saul had been converted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, and God didn’t give Ananias this information in the vision. Sometimes God leaves out information because he wants to see if we’ll go as he’s commanded even when we can’t add up all the pieces of information in our minds. He wants to know we trust him at his word.
Our perceptions and preconceived notions of people can really get in the way of what God wants to do through us for others. When we put ourselves in the judgment seat we can begin to second guess what we think we hear God saying. We might hear him perfectly well but then reason ourselves right out of what we heard. “Of course he didn’t say to ask that person to help on this particular project because of what they did last year on that other thing.” Or how about, “They are such a young Christian. There’s no way God would be asking them to do something that requires so much responsibility and spiritual weight.” We become “experts” based on what we’ve experienced with people over time.
But here’s the thing – while some humans may think they’ve reduced determining trustworthiness down to a science, only the heart can tell whether a person is truly trustworthy. And only God can know what the heart contains. He is the one who made our hearts and he knows what we are capable of. He knows when real change has occurred. He knows with perfect precision how much weight and responsibility we can bear for him.
Ananias decided to trust God despite his own preconceived notions and he went to Saul and restored Saul’s sight. Because of his obedience, Ananias gained a pivotal place in the story of one of the most influential people of all time. Saul, who later became Paul, needed his sight to do almost everything God commanded him to do for the remainder of his life. He regained his sight because an ordinary believer decided to trust God at his word and give a not so trustworthy (up to this point) character a chance.
Is there anyone you’ve passed “final” judgment on, thinking there was no hope for them? Anyone you’ve counted out of doing anything meaningful for Jesus because they simply could not get their act together? God hasn’t counted anyone out of the game of life; neither should we. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says love is ever ready to believe the best in every person. God is always ready to believe the best in every person and we should be, too. Is there anyone you need to give another chance to? Any preconceived notions that need to be challenged or looked at again? God just might be calling you to go and be an agent of change.