Despite growing up in the church, there were many stories in the Bible that I either didn’t know at all or I didn’t fully understand. I recently realized that the "before and after story" of how Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus was among one of those.
So, apparently, there was some guy named Saul who was on a mission to destroy Christianity and everyone who followed Jesus. He got an order from the high priest to go to the city of Damascus to find all the Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem where they’d all be placed in prison. But on his way there, Saul had an encounter with Jesus and he would never be the same! (Acts 9:1-17)
Saul’s name was later changed to Paul and Paul would go on to preach the gospel to nearly everyone he encountered. He never missed an opportunity to use his life and circumstances to show people how amazing God’s grace is and to tell them how much God had changed him. He wanted to share his story so that others might know, regardless of their past, God still loved them and He could use them in a big way.
Okay, I must be honest and admit that before I knew this road to Damascus story, the words of Paul that I would read throughout practically the whole the New Testament ¹ always rubbed me the wrong way. He came across as obnoxious and a bit conceited so I tended to ignore much of what he wrote. But after learning about this story, I started to see Paul and his words very differently.
Now, when I look at Paul’s words, I realize that he wasn't making these bold claims and proclamations because He had a big ego problem or because of some sort of serious pride issue. I just see a guy who’s excited and passionate about telling his “before and after” story and who wants to tell everyone how God miraculously and completely changed his life so they might know and believe He wants to do the same thing for them!
And guess what? That very same God is still changing lives and He’s still writing “before and after” stories for people today! The question is, “Are you going to tell yours?”
¹ Paul wrote thirteen books in the New Testament and that number is now believed to possibly be fourteen.