I live to problem solve. Most women do.
An easy problem bubbled up in preschool car line this week, my four-year-old reminded me it was his day to bring show and tell for the letter “N”.
Here’s the dialogue in my head, “I need to be better organized. My son’s preschool experience is subpar because of his mother. Solve the problem. What’s in the cup holder – water bottle. Anything in the glove box? Owner’s manual, tissues, NOTHING. Nothing, starts with “n”, he can’t take that! Solve the problem. Trunk – what’s in the trunk? Every obscure item in America is in my trunk but nothing starting with “n”. Solve the problem. Purse, what’s in my purse? Wallet, gum, lipstick, hot wheel car, half eaten granola bar, and something I can’t identify. Back to wallet – do I have one –YES—IT’S A NICKLE! “
Thirty seconds later, I announce, “Owen, look, Mommy is putting these nickels in your back pack for show and tell. Nickel starts with “n”.”
Whew – one problem down, about 4 million left to go until bedtime.
We climb over problems all the time in life. We charge ahead at full steam, quoting Bible verses and giving the devil more credit than he deserves for being in our way.
I’ve learned through experience that the enemy isn’t always the obstacle in my path – but the prick I feel is the correction of a loving Savior.
Saul felt those pricks too – and scripture tells us “he kicked against them.”
Saul was a man on a mission – he had a problem with a group of heretics that were defying Jewish religious leaders and propagating a story that Jesus Christ was the Messiah, crucified and now risen. The church was concentrated in Jerusalem and scripture tells us that, “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.” (Acts 8:3).
How effective was Saul? The church scattered, and except for the Apostles, they left Jerusalem. Saul was an intense man of intense convictions and was convinced that he was doing exactly what God has called him to. He didn’t let any obstacle stand in his way.
Once the church scattered – Saul took to the roads in their pursuit armed with letters and warrants from the Jewish religious leaders.
When we pick up his story in Acts 9, Saul is hot on the heels of a band of “heretics” in Damascus. Along this road to Damascus a blinding light and voice from heaven have knocked Saul to the ground and blinded him. The voice from heaven speaks, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And Saul 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. “ And he trembling and astonished said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:4-6)
Why was Saul’s (soon to be Paul) conversion so abrupt and jarring? It probably had something to do with the fact that Paul continued to kick against the pricks. Jesus had come to Saul in the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures he knew by heart. Jesus had spoken to Saul in the voice of Stephen’s witness while he was martyred. Again, Saul had the witness of Christ on the faces of the believers he dragged from their homes and into the prisons in Jerusalem. Prick after prick – and Saul still kicked.
Not every obstacle is at the hands of the enemy of our souls. The Father loves and corrects, his pricks always come with an invitation to change course. His pricks are laced with hope. Saul’s hope was a man named Ananias who, directed by the Lord, led, now Paul, to a confession of faith, baptized him in the Holy Spirit, and prayed for his sight to recover.
Sometimes I get so consumed with “working out the problem” that I don’t allow the problem to work something out in me. I am slowly conditioning myself to allow a prick to prompt me to pray. When the pricks don’t realign your way – but you continue to kick – you end up creating preventable causalities.
The Lord loved Saul, and each of us so much, that he’ll put an obstacle in our lives that we can’t kick past without getting on our knees and looking up to heaven and hearing his voice.
Less kicking. More seeking.
Now that’s what I call Revived Encouraged and Valued