9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“’I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Just this past summer we visited a butterfly conservatory in Cambridge while coming back from our trip to St. Jacob’s Market in Waterloo. That was an enthralling experience! My wife and I had as much fun (if not more) than our kids! When I was a young student of science, I remember how fascinated I was with the transformation of an otherwise itchy-looking, unattractive caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. I recall how awestruck I was when I first saw an actual butterfly escaping slowly from the confines of its cocoon and blossoming with vibrant colors as it spreads its wings for the first time. And there at that butterfly conservatory, we saw several of them emerging marvellously from their cocoons! They don’t fly right away but somehow flap their wings as a way of getting used to their new-found identity.
I remember the apostle Paul and his own dramatic transformation from an abrasive, angry young persecutor of God’s children into a powerful preacher of the gospel. Several times he was given opportunity to give an account of how the Lord changed him; remembering vividly his ugly and violent past. He recounts how through one miraculous encounter with the Saviour his entire life was thrown upside-down. Christ even blinded him momentarily so that when he had regained his sight he would see his own life and the world in an entirely new perspective that would forever change who he is.
In Paul’s life, Jesus Christ shows that He has power to change such a man – unruly, unjust, and filled with exacting hatred towards people into a passionate, evocative servant of the Living God. Most of all, Jesus gave Paul purpose in life. Believe it; He still has that power to perform a spiritual metamorphosis in the lives of people.
Are you losing patience and hope in praying for a loved one whom you are desperately wishing to change their ways? Are you getting increasingly frustrated in seeing that even though your loved one is already a believer that somehow he/she is not demonstrating their new identity in Christ? Or maybe you’re discouraged by your own personal spiritual makeover? Take heed! As God was patiently looking after Paul, His eyes and heart are equally fixated on you and your loved ones to transform them at His own pace and with His own purpose in mind.
Some of God’s children are much like caterpillars who don’t know that they are really destined to be butterflies, so decide to stay longer in the cocoon.