God found Simon, later called Peter, beside the Sea of Galilee. An uneducated fisherman, he smelled like fish!
God chased Jonah, a disobedient prophet, half-way to Tarshish at the farthest end of the earth.
God found Moses, the eighty-year-old murderer, on the back side of the Midianite desert where he was tending his father-in-law’s sheep.
And God pursued Saul of Tarsus down the road leading to Damascus. The capital of Syria was almost two hundred miles from Jerusalem, but God tracked Saul down.
“Now Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He went to the high priest and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ” (Acts 9:1–4).
Saul was the “chief” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15, NKJV), “the worst of them” (1 Timothy 1:15). His heart was filled with a toxic mixture of self-righteousness and a vicious rage against anyone who followed “the Way” of Jesus. He held in his hands the official documents authorizing him to harass, imprison, or even kill anyone whose theology was different than his own.
Be honest. If you were God, would you have met Saul with glorious light, or would you have rained pitch forks and hammer handles? Would you have illuminated the landscape, or might you have chosen an electrocuting bolt of lightning? Would you have called his name, or would you have called his number?
Saul had done nothing to deserve God’s grace. He’d done everything deserving of separation from God, everlasting punishment, unending condemnation, and eternal death. He’d earned a ticket to hell. Do not pass go... do not collect two hundred...
While “Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord ... (and) as he traveled and was nearing Damascus” (Acts 9:1-3), God intervened. At “about noon an intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around”(Acts 22:6). The “light from heaven (was) brighter than the sun” (Acts 26:13) and left the pharisaical thug blinded. “Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul!’ ” (Acts 9:4).
God intervenes! Indeed, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). God actively and intentionally pursues. He calls. He invites. He woos and persuades. We’re just as wretched and wrong and Saul had been, but God still intervenes. Mike, Mike! Sally, Sally! John, John! Is Jesus calling?
No matter who you are, how far you’ve run, or what you’ve done, God’s grace is amazing.