Today’s Author: Scott Tunseth

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

A road. A flash of light. A car carrying Ukrainian refugees riddled with shrapnel.

A road. A flash of lightning. A young law student named Martin Luther falls to his knees and prays. 

A road. A blinding flash of light from heaven. A voice. A new direction for a Pharisee named Saul.

Things happen on the road. Dangerous things. Life-changing things. Ask those fleeing the terror and carnage of war. Ask the lawyer turned monk Martin Luther whose encounter with the storm propelled him to lead a Reformation of the church. Ask the Pharisee Saul who was struck down on the road to Damascus while looking to arrest anyone who belonged to the Way, an early name for those who followed Jesus, who called himself “the way” (John 14:6). Traditionally, Saul’s experience on the road is referred to as a conversion. But that term for his experience is debated. After all, Saul did not stop being Jewish. His name didn’t change on the spot. He heard a voice and had a change of heart. His life changed. It may be more correct to say that he had a “call” experience

And according Acts 9:19-22, as soon as he regained his sight, Saul began proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues of Damascus. In his letter to the Philippians, he declared this about himself and his new path:

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (3:4-8)

And in his letter to the Galatians, he reveals the purpose of his call: “But God who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the gentiles” (1:15-16). Because Paul’s work was mostly among gentiles, he used his Greek name Paul. 

Things happen on the way to the people of the Way. Hard things. Loving things. Costly things. Merciful things. New things. Always new things. Because Christ is Lord, we keep moving. That doesn’t mean the path is always easy. Far from it. But it is the way.

Gracious God, be with us on the road through the twists and turns, the ups and the downs, the potholes and the detours. We plead for the safety for those who face the uncertainty and horror of war, who live with the ache of hunger and poverty, and who live with loneliness and loss. Open our eyes to the light of your presence and open our hearts to the needs of our neighbors.

Mid-week devotions are authored by members of our community.  If you are interested in creating a trio of reflections to be shared on an upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, contact Pastor Peter.