“Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’
The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’
But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’
But the Lord said to him, ‘Go…’”
It has been said that there are no small parts, only small actors. Some of my favorite characters from the Bible have only a few verses. Ananias is a great example of a lot of faith packed into a few moments.
This is the first time we are hearing of this disciple named Ananias. Right off the bat, we learn that Ananias stands in the tradition of people with great faith. When God speaks to Ananias, his simple response, “Here I am Lord” echoes saints from the past. Jacob the patriarch, Samuel the prophet, Mary the mother of Christ, all responded to God’s call with a simple statement of presence. “Here I am Lord” says, “I am available and willing to respond to your call.” These four words are a power declaration of faith. From that moment God calls him to a difficult and dangerous task, go visit and heal Saul.
Ananias was not only faithful, he was also well informed. Ananias responds to God’s call with, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints…” Ananias hesitates. His hesitation demonstrates that he takes the word of God seriously. His hesitation shows us that he is real and allows us to connect with him. Who among us hasn’t had a moment of doubt or disbelief? And yet, even in his hesitation, he is demonstrating that he stands within a lineage of the faithful. Moses before the burning bush, Gideon the second-guessing judge, and even Christ in the garden who prayed let this cup pass from me, but not my will but yours be done, all wrestled with their calling.
And so will we.
Recently, a friend came to visit me. As we spoke about the faith and the scripture he remarked, “Christianity is not easy.” It’s true, that following Christ is not easy. Christ himself says this several times in several different ways. The challenge of following Christ should give us pause. In the early church, the church would not baptize a person until they knew that the individual had sufficient time and mentorship in thinking through the commitment they were making. Following Christ will mean difficult decisions about love, forgiveness, and compassion. And yet, what other way can bring such life and bring it in abundance? As Peter says in the Gospel of John, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
After voicing his concern Ananias went to Saul. He prayed over him and welcomed him into the community. Because of his obedience, Ananias saw God do something that was more than anyone could have asked or imagined. Ananias had a testimony that rings throughout the centuries.
Friend, when God comes to you with a calling to something that seems next to impossible know that the heroes of our faith hesitated for a minute. Trust that if God called you to it then God will see you through it. And look forward with hope to the powerful testimony God will give you.