Last night I spent some time over dinner with a good friend here in Italy who is trying to understand what it is to give his life to Jesus Christ! Over some food and chat about the various traditions of our 2 countries we talked about many things which interest us and often I struggled to understand what he was saying/meaning with my limited Italian. He struggled to understand my badly pronounced Italian and yet we communicated over about 3hours and discussed some profound spiritual subjects. I was able to (badly) share how when I first encountered Christ it was an experience which was extremely profound.
As I struggled to give a response to his many questions it struck me how it is that the Lord works in very strange ways to do His work! Here was a protestant Glaswegian, who emigrated to Edinburgh brought here to Italy to stay in a tiny little place which even many italians don’t know to talk with a catholic man from Puglia (Southern Italy) who emigrated north for work and ends up in this same tiny place – and here we are sitting round a table talking about (among other things) how Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus and how for me this shows that nobody is beyond the love of God demonstrated on the cross. The man who attended the martyrdom of Stephen (possibly ordered it) who persecuted hundreds of the first followers of Jesus is stopped in his tracks as he goes to persecute more of them. This is an amazing story but one which my friend did not appreciate and which I believe speaks to us of how far-reaching the love of God is on the cross.
God does not wait until we are all well-equipped to do the work – He uses us as we are when we make ourselves available to Him. From a human perspective this is just like trying to eat cream with a fork but in God’s perspective it is when we are available in our weakness that He uses us.
Thank good ness for Paul – he was a biblical scholar (in our terms) and he had a great heritage in his religion – but God did not use that to find him – his intelligence was useful after that but only when it was harnessed to God’s service and operated from a dependence on Jesus. What a lesson for me!!
For those who are really bugged by working out the paradox above here is the solution –