The Lonely Valley Between
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. — Acts 9:19-22
Saul's conversion is powerful, and hands down, it's one of the greatest conversion stories in all the New Testament. But we see that Saul's experience has left people a little confused. As Saul makes this transition, both his Jewish brothers and Christian brothers are now deeply perplexed about where his loyalty lies. And this is totally understandable. The text says his former Jewish allies are "confounded," and new Christian brothers are "amazed."
I cannot imagine how lonely this could have been for Saul. One moment he is traveling down one road in life (literally), and now he is traveling down another. And we discover here that he's going to have a difficult time finding support in either camp. This is a lonely place for a man to be.
This dilemma is common for many new converts—especially those who move from strongly opposing Jesus to now strongly supporting him. A fresh confession of Jesus as Savior and Lord results in radical changes in our beliefs and actions that consequently affect relationships forever. I believe this is the reason that many struggle with making a profession of faith. They are concerned about the valley between the old way of life and the new way of life and the relational tension and fallout that may result.
But notice what carries Saul through this lonely valley. It was his commitment to what he had witnessed. The text says:
And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
As we travel a new road, there will be new tensions. And in the valley between the old road and the new road, we need to hold onto one thing — our message about Jesus. If you are in this place, hold fast to your testimony. Don't give up. Over time God will provide new friendships which will support you on your new road in life.
ASK THIS: Who is that person who supported you in the valley? (Share their name below)
DO THIS: Hold fast to your testimony.
PRAY THIS: God, I feel lonely today or have a friend who is. Bring a believing friend along my path and theirs as well.
PLAY THIS: What A Friend We Have In Jesus — Steph Macleod.
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