Today we are going to look at one experience like this that is documented for us in the book of Acts.
Saul of Tarsus was a man who seemed to really enjoy his job of persecuting Christians.
We are told that he held the coats of those who stoned Stephen.
Saul was on an approximately 150-mile trip between Jerusalem and Damascus when he had a personal experience with the Lord.
"As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.This is a pretty dramatic experience for Saul, and not just because he lost his sight.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "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.
" Saul got up from the ground but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing.
So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
For three days he was blind and he did not eat or drink anything.
" (Acts 9:3-6, 8-9) (NIV)
The King James Version sheds a little more light on just how dramatic this was for him.
Verse five in the KJV reads like this...
"And he said, Who art thou, Lord?" And the Lord said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.This one little extra phrase that the Lord says to Saul tells us a lot of background information.
" (Acts 9:5) (KJV)
"Kick against the pricks" is a term that would make immediate sense to Saul, though to us it makes no sense.
This is a term that refers to herding animals.
When you want a cow or a donkey to move you would poke it with a stick, called a prick.
Kicking against the prick means resisting the motivation to move, digging your heals in.
What this phrase reveals is that the Lord was already trying to work on Saul's heart but Saul was being stubborn.
Verse six of the King James Version has one other phrase that reveals how fast Saul's heart changed on the road to Damascus.
"And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" (Acts 9:6) (KJV)Here we see that Saul's heart is already changing.
He realizes that he has done wrong and his immediate response was to ask Jesus what he must do to be in God's will.
Another interesting thing to note is Saul's actions when he gets to Damascus.
We are told that he did not eat or drink for three days.
This could be read as "he fasted for three days".
In the Bible fasting is often related to sorrow and it is easy to believe that at this point Saul is full of sorrow for his actions.
Next time we will look at the next part of the story and see how God uses common Christians to fulfill His purposes.