I want to be more like Ananias! OK, let me clarify. There is the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira told in Acts chapter 5. They both lied to the apostles (and the Holy Spirit) and dropped dead. I don’t want to be THAT guy! There is another man named Ananias. His story is found in Acts chapter 9. This is right after Paul has his dramatic encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. We pick up his story there.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. (Acts 9: 10-19)
The funniest part of this story is when Ananias is telling Jesus all about Paul and telling Him all the bad stuff Paul was doing. As if the Lord didn’t know. You could almost see the wheels turning in Ananias’ head thinking, “are we talking about the same guy Paul? Nah, it couldn’t be.” But the Lord responds with, “Yep, he’s my guy.” But that isn’t why I want to be like Ananias.
So here is what impressed me about Ananias and why I would want to be more like him. First of all, it is clear to me that Ananias had a deep and genuine relationship with Christ. He could recognize His voice when He spoke to him and, it seems, it wasn’t unusual for Ananias to hear from the Lord often. It was normal. I want that to be normal in my life as well. God had a plan for Paul, but He needed a faithful disciple to cooperate with Him in the working out of that plan. And He chose Ananias because He knew he was listening. I want to be in a position to hear Christ’s word to me. I want to be the kind of disciple that the Lord can trust with His plans, just like Ananias was.
But even more impressive is the way Ananias responded. After his initial, “Are you sure, Lord?” he got up and went, even when it didn’t make human sense. He simply responded completely and immediately to Christ. It is so easy to overthink what we think God is saying. We throw up road blocks and questions and reasons why we should wait or why “it will never work” or “what if I get it wrong,” ad infinitum, until we find ourselves doing nothing at all. Ananias took a risk. But that he took the risk based on what he understood Christ was telling him. He obeyed, he acted, he stepped out. I want to be more like Ananias, willing to risk in order to obey Christ. Ok, so maybe sometimes I’ll get it wrong, but I’d rather be wrong in trying to follow Christ, that sit in paralyzed fear and never risk anything. I want to be more like Ananias and get up and go even when His plan doesn’t quite make sense to me.
The thing about this story is that, too often, we focus on what is happening to Paul. But here is a normal, run-of-the-mill disciple whose obedience to Christ launched great ministry. We may not always be in the spotlight. We may not have the great crowds or name recognition. We may not be Paul, but we can be Ananias – Christians who are always listening and responding to the voice of Christ in our lives. I can do that and so can you.