THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL
Some people are born with good sense and the instinct to do what is right. Then there are others who basically need to be hit up the side of the head with a two-by-four. Our man who brought Jesus to the Gentiles, St. Paul, was of the latter variety. Never happier then when he could clap irons on a poor, benighted Christian and drag him or her back to Jerusalem to be tortured into recanted their faith, Paul had to be ejected from his horse and temporarily blinded so that God could get his attention. "How do you like me now, Paul??" God said. Well, not really. More like "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
Then as quick as he lost it, Saul regains his sight and is converted from an enemy of Christ to Christ's chief supporter. Without Paul, Christianity would still be just another Jewish sect. His dramatic conversion recalls the line from the hymn, Amazing Grace: "I once was blind but now I see." John Newton, the Anglican priest who wrote these words, had his own amazing story of conversion. Once the captain of a slave ship, God spoke to him during a terrible storm at sea. Leaving the slave trade behind him, Newton was ordained a priest in a humble, country parish and devoted the remainder of his days to serving Christ. The movie "Amazing Grace," is about William Wilberforce, who spent 40 years introducing legislation to end slavery in the British Parliament before it passed. John Newton is also a character in that movie.
The opportunity to "turn over a new leaf" and return to God is open to all. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, God waits for each one of us with open arms: Even running out to meet us. Is God trying to meet you today??