When I suffered my brain injury, I was struggling to see why a loving God who is supposed to be in control of everything, would allow something like this to happen. How in the world could something good come from it? After months of questioning His motives, God started to show me what His plan and purpose was in this seemingly unfair and meaningless situation and I soon began to see myself walking my very own road to Damascus.
As the son of Pharisees, Saul was taught the law of Moses at a very young age. He was instructed to adhere strictly to the law with absolutely no compromise. He was told to avoid Gentiles, or the non-religious, at all costs so that he wouldn't be "contaminated." He didn't believe Jesus was God and hated those who did. So when Christianity started to flourish, Saul became a religious zealot, and was on a mission to destroy it and it's followers.
After getting permission from the high priest, Saul set off on the road to Damascus with the intentions of bringing all the Christians back to Jerusalem to imprison them and kill them. But something happened on his way there. Saul had a face to face encounter with Jesus and his life was turned upside-down. He was forever changed. After meeting Jesus, Saul became Paul, who went on to become one of history's greatest church planters, missionaries, and spreaders of the Gospel.
I have to admit that before knowing of this glorious and miraculous transformation, I was turned off by the words of Paul that I read in his New Testament books. I found him obnoxiously cocky and a bit conceited. But after learning of it, I realized Paul wasn't making these bold claims and proclamations because he was proud of himself. He was proud of the God who had transformed him.
Paul was amazed at what God had done in him and how God wanted to use him, despite all the things he stood for when he was Saul. Following this radical change, Paul made it his life's mission to share the gospel and show everyone that regardless of their past, God still wanted to use them and had big plans for their life.
Now, I am clearly not the same person as either Saul, not even close (nor Paul for that matter). I never had plans to destroy Christianity or its followers. In fact, I was one of these followers and a self-proclaimed pretty good one at that. But, herein lies the problem. I had slowly and unknowingly become proud of myself! I'd always felt I deserved the credit for all the good things in my life, and all the bad things were due to someone else's wrongdoing.
But after I suffered my brain injury, my thinking began to change. I started taking the perspective that maybe God was "hurting my pride" by taking away some of the gifts He had graciously given me. These were gifts that I had wrongly started to believe were owed to me, and ones that had sneakingly become more important than the giver. It was as if God was using my brain injury to erase some of my self-pride and I started to become aware of where my pride truly belonged, in the finished work of Jesus.
Now, like I said, I know my story isn't nearly as dramatic as Paul's road to Damascus story, but it is a story of God's supernatural ability to change someone's heart. My heart change certainly wasn't a one-time event. I liken it to be more of a journey, a journey that I am still on and one that isn't even close to being finished.
I tell you this part of my story not because my issue with "self-pride" is something I'm "proud" of. I do so with the hope that it will encourage the people who hear it or read it.
You see, we mustn't believe the lie that we can't change. Because regardless of our pasts, we all can! And to believe this, all we have to do is look at the story of Saul, a religious zealot who wanted to kill Christians. He met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus and became Paul, the man known for his undying love for Jesus and who wrote much of the New Testament.
Each of our road to Damascus stories will look different, but I think we all need one. We all need to meet the real Jesus and let him into our hearts. And if and when this happens, we'll never be the same again!
"We serve a God who works in ways that are far beyond any of our wildest imaginations. He is the great orchestrator who can take an apparent mess and turn it into a beautiful masterpiece."