“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, “he replied. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do. (Acts 9:5-6, NIV)
When we are young, we begin to formulate ideas of who we want to be when we grow up. These ideas are usually influenced by our environment, hobbies, and/or desires. I have wanted to become a lot of things growing up but never would I thought in a million years that I would be sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through seminars, workshops, blogs, messages, missions, etc. I never wrote any of this stuff in my 1, 5 or 10 year plan! I didn’t write this in my papers growing up when they asked me to describe my career. In fact, I wanted to become a Physical Therapist! That idea was quickly abandoned after I almost threw up in my college Biology class because they wanted me to dissect a fetal pig. Nonetheless, as my relationship with God began to develop in my mid 20’s so did my direction and purpose in life.
I love the story of Saul’s conversion. Saul was a straight “killer!” He hated Christians with a passion! He enjoyed persecuting them and many people feared him because of that. As he was traveling on the road to a city called Damascus and putting out murderous treats against the Lord’s disciples something life changing happened! Saul experienced an encounter with Christ that forced him to change directions! (Acts 9:3-6) He was on his Own personal mission and now that mission was to be submitted to the mission of Christ! Saul the former murderer of Christians became the one God used as His chosen instrument to carry His name before the Gentiles and their kings, and before the people of Israel.
When Saul changed those directions and started obeying God, everyone around him was shocked! Could you imagine? The man who was going around killing Christians, now is telling people to follow Christ, “All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name…?” (Acts 9:21) Understand this, when it is time to change directions in your life there will be some people who question what you are doing! Some may question your authenticity because they have seen you on a different path, doing a different thing, and singing a different song for so long. They may even take what you are doing as a joke! And if you allow what “people” say or think to govern your actions you will have a miserable life due to your own disobedience. Imagine if Saul’s encounter with Christ meant nothing to him. Imagine if he allowed his current reputation to affect whether or not he obeyed God. When people tried to remind Saul of who he used to be he answered in this manner, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Saul understood that he had “changed directions” and he walked in it no matter what others thought of him!
Saul, whose name later became “Paul” was used by God to bring many to Christ and introduced many people to the gospel!
Your obedience to God’s directions is not just for you! Others are always tied to your obedience. There are people out there waiting for your impact and yet your disobedience will hinder the process. And for what? To continue walking out “YOUR” five year plan? Plans are great! We all should be wise stewards over our time and plan things out. Nonetheless, we are to plan with the ability to be flexible to whatever it is that God wants us to do. So with that being said, I would like to leave you with some practical things to do once you are led to “Change Directions.”
1. Fast and Pray- When we fast and pray to God our sensitivity to His voice is heightened. Take a break from the music and television and purpose yourself to hear God’s voice even clearer.
2. Write Down the Directions- Whatever it is that God spoke to you, write it down in a journal so that you won’t forget those things.
3. Share it with the “Exclusive”- Everyone doesn’t need to know your business and better yet, everyone does not need to know the direction God is telling you to move in. However, there should be someone that you trust (that “exclusive” individual) that speaks the wisdom of God to you that can hold you accountable to the directions God has given you. Husbands talk to your wives, wives talk with your husbands, or share with a Pastor, a mentor, or friend. Make sure the person that you share this information with has a history of giving you wise counsel.
4. Execute- Now is the time to walk it out no matter what! Develop a plan. Those who fail to plan often “plan to fail.” Nonetheless, always be open to God’s direction as the plan is developed. Consistently pray throughout your execution phase to receive His guidance.
If you knew me several years ago, this photo of me preaching may shock you! It wouldn’t have seemed possible, that is, until I “Changed Directions”…