I grew up on the other side of Dallas, in an area known as Oak Cliff. Literally two minutes from downtown Dallas. Every day I would get up, and I would see the Dallas skyline. I knew it very well. I lived my entire life in its shadow. I knew where every building was. I could draw it exactly the way that I saw it. It was familiar. It was comfortable.
It was the first week of my freshman year. I probably prayed more that first week of college than I had ever prayed in my life. Walking around campus, literally for hours and hours, trying to figure out what I was doing at Bible college. I am surprised I did not wear out a path from all the pacing I did in the soccer fields.
One day I was driving on 635 with a friend, and something very unsettling happened. I caught a glimpse of downtown Dallas. The thing that I new forward and backward. That familiar, comfortable thing. But when I looked at it, it was all wrong. All the buildings were out of order. It looked completely different. In my mind I knew it was the same place, but it was all wrong. It terrified me.
So I got back to the college, and I was disturbed, so I went to the soccer fields and started pacing them again. I was praying about all of this, about being at Dallas Christian College, and then it dawned on me. I didn’t live in Oak Cliff anymore. The buildings were different because I was in a different place. In that moment I knew that everything about was about to change. My whole world was about to be turned upside down.
In the book of Acts, Saul encounters Jesus in ch 9. And at the end of that encounter, not only was his life completely different, but Paul was completely blind.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind and did not eat or drink anything.
— Acts 9:4–9
And while God was doing this to Saul with his right hand, he was doing something else with his left. God told a man named Anninias to heal Paul, and that Paul was his chosen instrument (Acts 9:10–16).
I think it is significant that Paul began his ministry blind. If Paul could’ve seen what was ahead of him, I do not think that he would have had the courage to be obedient (2 Corinthians 11:23–28). If any of us knew what it was that God really had in store for us, I think that we would probably be so overcome with fear and wonder that we would never move.
This is your story. This is my story. Right here, right now. The Lord has called you with his right hand, and with his left, he is ordering the world around you because he has a plan for your life.
I look around our world today and I know that the battle for the kingdom of God is not a fight for the faint-hearted, the weak, the cowardly or the ill-prepared. I know that if you are truly going to follow Jesus in this world, you are going to have to give it everything that you have got.
I know that right now you are blind, and you are not sure what God has in store for you. None of us know, and thank God for that. But I also know that he has brought you here. Make the most of it, even though it may hurt sometimes. One day you will be able to say like Paul:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness
— 2 Timothy 4:7-8