All about Saul

We read the story of Saul's conversion yesterday in church. You already know how much I'm drawn to this story because I've already written about it. I sort of have a love-hate thing going on with Saul, and here's why. Part of me loves the story of his conversion because it's so inspiring. Saul was a bad, bad man. He killed people; he persecuted the early Christians; he hated Jesus. In fact, on the very day of his conversion, on the road to Damascus, Saul was on his way to persecute more Christians. Before he got there, though, he met God, went blind (temporarily) and became a believer. Saul's story gives me hope, because I figure if terrible Saul can become a believer, anyone can.

So here's the part of the story that irritates me. Saul's conversion takes a measly three days -- he doesn't even have to work at it, for crying out loud; it just happens. I feel like Saul got an easy conversion. Sure he went blind, but it was only for three days. And when it was all over, he was a believer, one hundred percent. My conversion, on the other hand, seems to be tracking at about the same pace my children move every morning when it's about time to leave for school: slooooooowly. At this rate, I say I'll be officially converted in about 84 years or so.

I was reminded yesterday, though, that I may be defining conversion a bit narrowly. When I think about it, the Bible may not be telling me all of Saul's story. The Bible does sort of have a way of glossing over the details, of covering just the major highlights. So sure, we know Saul met God on the road to Damascus, and then went on, as Paul, to become one of the great leaders of the early Christian church. But what happened during all the days in between those monumental acts? Who's to say Paul's true conversion didn't in fact take much longer? Who's to say that perhaps Paul didn't have his doubts? Who's to say Paul's conversion wasn't more a two-steps-forward-one-step back process, rather than a single instant?

We get a glimpse of this possibility in 2 Corinthians, when Paul refers to a "thorn in his side."

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' (12: 8-9)

This passage gives me at least a glimpse of Paul's struggle -- the fact that he implores God to take away this burden is a sign to me that Paul's conversion wasn't a simple lightening strike, but more of an ongoing process. That perhaps he had set-backs, days when he didn't really feel like putting one foot in front of the other.

I'm beginning to realize that conversion, even one involving dramatic, "lightening strikes," is still just the beginning, the "turning around," as the word's root suggests. It's in the looking back and in the looking ahead, in the slow but steady process of turning around, that the true converting begins.

Lara –   – (August 31, 2009 at 8:19 PM)  

This one hit home Michelle! I am really enjoying your postings. Keep up the awesome work!

Michelle –   – (August 31, 2009 at 9:13 PM)  

Thanks for reading, Lara! I saw you are an official follower and was so thrilled! Hope the kids are doing well...

Anonymous –   – (September 1, 2009 at 8:36 AM)  

Michelle I think your on the right track. It's not a one time lightning strike. It's a process. Often conversion is referred to as "born again". Spiritual birth. You become a child of God. And as children we must grow up into the fullness of what God wants us to be. Babies must eat to grow up. What should we feed our spirit if it is to grow?

Lara –   – (April 27, 2011 at 10:51 AM)  

This one hit home Michelle! I am really enjoying your postings. Keep up the awesome work!

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