Two Simple Questions…

Two simple questions.

Who are you? When the light hit Saul as he rode his donkey towards Damascus and Jesus spoke to him, that was his first question.

What do you want me to do? That was Saul’s second question in response to the answer he received. Two simple questions. But by asking them, accepting the answer and moving on it, Saul became Paul and we were gifted most of the New Testament.

Simple faith. Trust. Paul recognized the Truth when he heard it. God Himself spoke out of blinding light and changed him in an instant. As Saul, he was zealous for what he understood. After encountering Jesus on the road he became zealous for what God understood.

And he changed the world.

Just by two simple questions.

Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve already asked the first and recognized the truth of Jesus Christ. But the second question is harder to ask, and harder still to act on. It requires us to look beyond ourselves and out into the world. It may involve discomfort. It may involve travel.

It may involve death. Or at least being prepared to die if necessary.

And the second question is one we must keep asking. Saul in Acts 9 is instructed through Ananias about what he is to do next. At any time if he had stopped asking that simple question over and again we would have thinner Bibles. Becoming Paul meant surrendering his sense of self to God’s definition of him. We don’t have to necessarily change our names, but the same is true for us.

God has a plan for our lives. Intricately crafted and woven together, designed perfectly for our joy to be complete in Him, He drew up this master-plan as we were formed in the womb. Then He gave us free will.

Oh dear…

So now we have the task of coming back to God and saying “what next?” just as Paul did. And like Paul, we have the choice of following it or not. In Acts 21:11, Paul is warned he will be arrested and bound if he goes to Jerusalem and that he will be handed over to the Romans. Paul is given a choice. The warning is given to him through believers and he has to choose. Paul’s desire has become God’s desire for his life, the same that was placed in his heart when he recognized Jesus – to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. So Paul chooses to go to Jerusalem. His letters to Timothy were written from prison. He was never free from custody again. It is likely he was executed by beheading as he was a Roman Citizen and was therefore “spared” crucifixion, but his last years were spent under guard – albeit some of that time in Rome in a house he rented himself according to Acts 28:30. The New Testament may have been a very different shape had Paul chosen to not go to Jerusalem when he did.

In any case, Paul chose to go to Jerusalem because God had put going to Rome into his heart, and as a Roman Citizen on trial he could demand an audience with Caesar himself. Warned by the Spirit that this was his time, Paul comforted his companions, reminding them he was willing to die for the sake of Jesus. Ananias had been told by God in Acts 9:16 “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” before he went to baptize Saul. Paul saw the time was due for him to go, and God had shown him what was coming years before – all he was waiting for was the time.

It was the answer to the second question.

How many of us have the courage to do what Paul did and completely release the control of our lives to God’s direction and purpose?

I have fallen horribly short many times. The best example I can give from my own life would be writing. God put a desire to write for Him in my heart when I was still a teenager – 25 years ago. It has only been four years since I began to move in that direction. Twenty-one years where I knew what God wanted me to do but didn’t have the courage to do it. It took me until the age of 39 to have the courage to do what He asked me to do at 18.

The most frustrating thing for me has been that in those 21 years I repeatedly asked God what He wanted me to do – and got the same answer. Call it whatever you want. Procrastination, fear, or disobedience. My doctor told me two years ago I had “Attention Deficit Disorder.” Whatever label I put to it, I still don’t get those 21 years back. So now I have a choice. I can listen and obey or I can listen and do my own thing. I’ve come to realize through the churches I’ve been involved in that if I don’t step up when He calls me to do something, then God will get it done through someone else.

“Getting it done” isn’t actually the point. The point is finding God’s best path for your life. Jesus makes that clear when the leaders tell Him to rebuke those praising Him in Luke 19:40 “…He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.'”

One way or another the Praises due Him will be given. But He wants us to do what’s best for us as well as what’s right for Him.

So I try to keep asking question two and I try to do what He asks of me.

We all should. Paul recognized that the answer to the second question was the key to living the life Jesus had planned out for him all along. He recognized that he couldn’t do a better job and it would be a waste not to do what He was called to.

So try it.

It’s only two simple questions after all.