When we were children, how often did our parents tell us to do something, and we didn’t obey—because we didn’t consider it necessary or important? A teacher might have asked us to accomplish a particular task, but we reluctantly dragged our feet instead, and, ultimately, never completed it. Later on in our life, an employer may have given us an assignment, and, after much analyzing, we quickly concluded that it was really just a waste of time and did nothing. We were too concerned over what might happen to us if we did follow through on it. Yet, our neglectfulness may have caused the company to suffer significant financial or other losses.
We might get by in life by exercising our own will, and what we consider to be our better judgment in what we choose to obey. But when it comes to the things of God, this kind of thinking will put us on dangerous ground. If we assume the attitude that we know more about the situation than He does, and then choose to disobey based on that assumption, it could result in unfavorable and long lasting consequences. Take a look at this example from God’s Word to better explain this:
“…there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”Acts 9:10-12
God specifically told Ananias here to “arise and go,” along with an explanation for His command. It was a simple request, but Ananias was very much aware of how vile and dangerous Saul of Tarsus was, and he felt it would be safer for him to not follow through. “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name” (Acts 9:13-14).
Saul was not someone to argue with concerning religious matters, since he knew the Jewish Law inside and out. When it came to dealing with those who continued to believe in Jesus Christ, he had basically appointed himself as ‘lead man’ of the Pharisees (one group of ruling religious leaders of that day) according to his view of what he felt was right. He fervently sought out those of ‘The Way’ (the Christians) in his religious zeal, in order to have them exterminated ultimately. He honestly believed that he was doing God a great service in his efforts. Therefore, in his own mind, Ananias had a very good reason for hesitating and questioning God concerning this matter.
But that didn’t excuse him from being part of God’s plan for Saul. “…the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16 emphasis added). Once again, God told Ananias to go. Note that the more God must state something, the greater its importance. This time, God bluntly stated to Ananias to do as He had told him to do, and to leave Saul to Him, because He saw great value in him.
What happened next? “…Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized” (Acts 9:17-18). When Ananias did just what God told him to do, the Lord then moved mightily on Saul.
If Ananias had done what he thought was best for that situation instead, he would have listened to his fears, disobeyed God’s command, and Saul would have been left wandering in blindness. Ananias would have missed out on being an integral part of God’s conversion of Saul, and on his own blessing from God as well. The Lord would have had to pass him by and use someone else to speak to Saul. Then Ananias’ name might have been forever recorded in history as the one who refused to obey God and hindered Saul’s conversion.
Ananias provided an important example for believers in Christ to follow. When God speaks, we need to listen carefully and obey, regardless of the circumstances surrounding what He commands us to do. Fear, doubt, unbelief, uncertainty, and numerous other obstacles will often spring up in front of us, obscuring the path of obedience—just as they’ve done throughout the course of history. But we should never let ourself reach the point where He must repeat what He said to us.
Yet Ananias pushed all of his fears, doubts and uncertainties aside, trusted in God, and “went his way”—doing just what the Lord told him to do. Even though Saul had plans to go after the Christians and remove them, that meant nothing to God as He looked past all of this and saw the completely changed vessel Saul would become.
Today, when God calls out to us, are we willing and prepared to do what He asks? Is our trust in Him, or do we let our own fears and concerns keep us from helping to fulfill His plans? The Lord is patient and kind, but do we have to make it necessary for Him to repeat Himself to us when He says, “Go thy way”? Let’s make sure that we turn our ears and hearts toward Him, ready and willing to obey whenever He comes to us and says, “Arise and go.”
[Image credits: Featured image (when applicable) Chetan Menaria/unsplash; Mohamed Hassan/pixabay; flickr photo by Gandalf’s Gallery shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license; (last two images) Sweet Publishing/CC-BY-SA-3.0