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Thursday, December 2, 2021

The collision on Damascus Road

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“One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’ ‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness.’” Acts 26:12-16 NLT

In the book “Rethinking the Successful Church: Finding Serenity in God’s Sovereignty,” Samuel D. Rima writes to help ministry leaders along their journey of service to God to be fully aware of and accept God’s sovereignty over the ministry and to find serenity and success in God’s sovereignty, especially when desired results may not materialize.

This perspective is applicable to us as individuals in our pursuit for personal success in life. A stark reality in life is that what we want and our way to achieve it can clash and be at odds with God’s sovereign purpose and providential guidance in our lives.

Since God’s plans do not always coincide with our plans, our plans thusly can collide with God’s sovereignty. We therefore must come to grips with this tension, but more importantly, its implication for our lives.

A collision occurs when objects collide, or when competing philosophies, opinions and cultures clash.

The most familiar type of collision is vehicles colliding on the street. In similitude, when our plans clash with God’s plans, a collision has occurred at the intersection of My Plans Street and God’s Sovereign Way. This is a collision of wills — ours verses God’s, which can result in us becoming frustrated because things are not going as we envisioned. It is here where the rubber really meets the road, testing the integrity of our relationship with God and the sincerity of our “yes Lord, to your will; yes Lord, to your way.”

This clash can create a brick wall that, if we cling to our plans to maintain control of our lives, we will find ourselves continually pounding our heads against it to no avail. Whenever at this point, it is crucial to understand that God is more concerned that his name is honored and glorified by us fulfilling his sovereign purpose and good pleasure than satisfying our selfish desires and demands for what we want (Romans 9:17; Galatians 1:15-16; Revelation 4:11).

Saul, also known as Paul, had planned a career path leading to a resume profile of prestige and power, which he had achieved substantial success. But his life path was turned upside down at the collision on Damascus Road — the place of his transformational encounter with Jesus Christ (Acts 9:1-6; 26:9-18). At this collision, God interrupted Saul’s well-laid out plans for personal success. A part of Saul’s profile of success was being the champion persecutor of Christians, and opposer of the name of Jesus. Yet God’s sovereign success profile for Saul was the reverse, to become the persecuted and a prominent proclaimer of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

You must come to grips with “what I see as success for me may not be what God sees as success for me.” This became Saul’s piercing reality in the words of our Lord, “it is useless (hard) for you to fight against my will.”

Whenever you experience a clash between your desire and God’s purpose, the least costly yet most rewarding decision is to compromise your plan and come into agreement with God. Just acquiesce as Saul did — step back, seek and search out God’s purpose and direction for your life (Acts 9:6a). Why? Because anything against God’s sovereign purpose will not stand (Proverbs 19:21) but surely fail and come to nothing (Acts 5:38-39).

Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at jabeaven@gmail.com or Twitter @jbeaven.

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