By Barry Wood
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, I have spent time with the Lord asking a lot of questions, mostly about me. I really want to have new direction and passion to fulfill God’s call in my life. In a recent conversation with God, I had just read my daily dose of scripture. After I finished, I told him that I wanted to know what to do. I wanted to know how to lead, how to pastor, how to help those he has called me to help.
While praying, the Holy Spirit called my attention to a verse I had just finished reading. It’s in Acts 22 and is part of a defense the Apostle Paul makes to the court that was judging him. In it, he recounts his conversion and includes a question he asked and what God’s answer was: “ ‘What shall I do, Lord,’ I asked. ‘Get up’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’”
I read that verse several times and began to ask my own questions. The one answer that came was, “Go to Damascus.” After doing some research about Damascus, I learned that is widely believed to be the oldest city in the middle east. Located in present day Syria, it is mentioned in the Bible as far back as Abraham’s time, David’s reign as king of Israel, and throughout prophetic writings of the Old Testament. But most importantly, this is where the Apostle Paul learned all that he had been assigned to do.
Damascus is a place of beginnings. It’s a place to return to when life has separated us from what is really important. For me, that means that I need to go back to my first days with Jesus. I’ve been thinking about my own conversion and markers along my Christian walk that have directed my path. In order to know what I have been assigned to do, I need to get back to the beginning, remove the clutter and all the rabbit trails I have followed and remember what God assigned me to do.
Many of us during this crisis time are asking God questions. What if one of those answers is, “Go to Damascus, the place of beginnings?” For Paul, Damascus was a place of healing, instruction, and commissioning. Sometimes to move forward effectively, we have to go back and rediscover who we are. We may find healing and answers just like he did. What a great question to ask of God, “What is my assignment?” Ask it and see what happens. I think the clutter and confusion of life will fall away and we will see who we are and how God wants to use us.
Go back to your Damascus by looking back at your early days with Jesus. What kind of wild, crazy, outlandish, adventurous things did he plant in you? Looking at the past may well guide you into an exciting and adventure-filled future!