From Saul to Paul

“Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.” ~Acts 13:9


Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna

God is in the transformation business. Your beginning does not have to be your end. We see this made manifest in the life of Paul. Paul began his life as a persecutor of Christians. He was known as Saul of Tarsus before he was handpicked by God to be His apostle. At this time in his life, he had no regard, reverence or love for Christians. Saul watched the stoning death of the martyr Stephen and held the garments of the ones hurling stones. 

He was a devout Jew who had permission from the High Priest to persecute anyone professing that Jesus was the Chosen One. Saul says:

“I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.”Acts 22:3-5

It wasn’t until that faithful day on Damascus Road that Saul encountered the Prince of peace in a personal way. The bright light and the voice of the Savior caused him to fall to his feet, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me? ~Acts 9:4 

Persecution of His people was persecution of Him. Saul answered humbly and submitted himself and asked what he should do. He was told to rise and go into the city. This act of obedience left him blind. There he met Ananais who was rightfully afraid as Saul’s reputation preceded him. Also instructed by the Lord, he too obeyed and healed Saul of his temporary blindness. 

Although Saul was well versed in the Bible, he did not believe that Jesus was the anointed Messiah. After the fateful encounter, he dedicated his life to the Great Commission and  traveled to synagogues all across the region to deliver the Good News. Because he was a Hebrew who held Roman citizenship, he was able to speak  with confidence to both the Jews and Greeks and therefore was able to reach more people.  

Throughout his life Paul suffered many trials but continued to press on and fight the good fight of faith despite being imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, faced death a myriad of times, battled his own flesh, was often hungry, thirsty and cold-yet he never allowed any of it to prevent him from serving the Lord. Even when the Lord elected not to remove the thorn from his side, he continued on. He felt it an honor to be weak as it showed the strength of the Lord. “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 1 Corinthians 12:9

At the end of his life Paul was content knowing his reward. He spent the remainder of his life working tirelessly for the Kingdom. He had written 14 of the 27 epistles in the New Testsment, lead an innumerable amount of people to Christ, enlisted others to teach about Christ, created the theological framework of justification by faith and lead an exemplary life of faith. He had done all he was called to do and knew his time of death was at hand. “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”~2 Timothy 4-6 

Through his life we learn that God can use anyone. Each and every one of us matter to God. We are never beyond redemption. We also learn that anyone can be a witness for Christ if they are willing to be transformed and made anew. 

Paul was willing and even counted his sufferings all joy. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” ~Philippians 1:12-14). His transformation was complete. Can you say the same? 

After Winter

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1

After winter, must come spring. Change comes eventually” ~Lauryn Hill.

For the last 12 years or so I have been in a winter season. Despite being born during a major blizzard, I do not readily embrace it.

Even though I know that winter is a time for hibernating, renewing, strengthening, and preparing, it can be difficult to see better days ahead. Although David was anointed king at the tender age of 16, he spent the 14 years following his anointing running from Saul. It was during this time that the Psalms were birthed. Reading David’s laments, we know how unbearable winter seasons can be.  “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice,” he says in Psalm 55:17. But we also know that trouble doesn’t last.”He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:2).


Take heart. The hoary head of snow soon melts. The grass morphs from brown to green. The birds return from the south. The sun smiles again. We have visible signs of hope that a change is on the horizon.

But how do we endure in the meanwhile when the air is still polar, the nights long, and the landscape of our lives are seemingly barren? I think the answer that has evaded me my entire life is a simple one. We are to HOPE. This revelation has only come to me in the past year. Prior to this, I spent the time waiting being afraid, disillusioned, angry, and bitter. I didn’t have enough faith to BELIEVE God would get me through. I was fearful that He wouldn’t do for me what He has done for countless others. I concentrated more on the problem instead of focusing on He who is greater than any problem known to man. He’s seen it all. Nothing that we go through is a surprise to Him. He only wants to see how we handle that challenges that bombard our lives. Will we ask for His new morning mercies daily? Will we lean not to our own understanding? Will we be still? Will we wait on Him? Or will we succumb to the desire to do it our way? Will we resist the thorn that adorns the beautiful rose? Will we decline the growth that is sure to come if we just hold on?

I now know that this winter is not in vein. He is not punishing or refusing to help me. He is growing me for something greater later. God is using it to build my character. When He is ready, deliverance will come.

Patience is not my best quality and I  constantly wonder when my relief come. Some days I feel like the speaker in the Kanye West song Stronger “I need you to hurry up now/Cause I can’t wait much longer/I know I got to be right now/Cause I can’t get much wronger./” I want to plead my case for deliverance to the Highest Judge in life’s earthly court.  I need Him to know that I am not righteous like Job, steadfast as David, dedicated like Ruth, or obedient like Noah. Some days I beg or bargain for relief. I am not as strong as You think, I want to scream.

So what’s a girl to do? Here are a few things that keep me going:

1. Seeking God: I do this by reading the Bible, listening to sermons while I am doing chores, attending church, reading Christian books and devotionals, and listening to praise music.

2. Connecting With Positive People: I have cut out many negative people out of my life. I interact with those who will not judge and will keep me uplifted. Though they may admonish me, I know it  out of agape love.

3. Focusing On The Good: The Bible says “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

4. Encouraging Others: I truly love encouraging others. It makes me realize that I am not the only one with problems. And it makes me feel good to be good to others as God has called us to do.

5. Recalling Past Victories: I’ve survived many things and I can only attribute it to the grace of God. It certainly wasn’t by my hand or strength. If He’s done it once, He’ll do it again as long as I continue to fight and faint not.

I would love to hear how you wait in the comment section below.