The Apostle Paul was a very unlikely person to impact the world. Before his conversion, he was “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” He was traveling around Israel hunting down believers in Christ. He was not to be messed with.
God struck him blind for three days just to get the stubborn man’s attention.
There was a man named Ananias who God used in Paul’s conversion. He was told by God to go to Paul and pray over him. This guy was scared to death because he knew of Paul’s reputation.
“But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” Acts 9:13-14
Even by Paul’s admission, he didn’t feel he was up to the job.
For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. ~1 Corinthians 15:9
He also said..
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners…. ~1 Timothy 1:15-16a
God used Ananias to open Paul’s eyes both physically and spiritually. I find it amazing how God uses the unlikely and unknown to accomplish his will.
When he was finally able to see he took to the gospel like a fish to water. He immediately started preaching in the synagogues. He was also responsible for taking many missionary trips to spread the word to the gentiles. This is amazing since Paul was a Pharisees who strictly followed the law. For someone like him, this would be unthinkable since entering a non-Jewish person’s house would make him ceremonially unclean.
He was an advocate for allowing the gentiles to be believers on equal footing with the Jewish believers. He started as many as 14 churches and wrote most of the new testament letters and died for his belief in Christ.
And to think, God used Paul while he was in prison (about five to six years worth). With help with the people around him, notably Ananias, Timothy, Apollos, Titus, Philemon, and others, he was fundamental in building the early Christian Church.
Helen Keller seemed to have an impact on those around her from a very early age. People could see both her potential and her tenacity. If it wasn’t for her tenacity we would never have know who she was.
Most people probably only know of the obstacles she overcame to communicate and obviously are moved by this. But she was so much more. She was the first deaf woman to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree, at a time when it was unheard-of for someone with any sort of disability to attend college.
She changed people’s perceptions of the deaf and blind. People no longer saw the deaf as dumb. I wonder how much longer it would have taken for laws to be enacted giving the disabled access to educational establishments.
She is remembered as an advocate for the disabled, especially the deaf and blind. She spoke in 25 countries on the condition of the Deaf. She started her own foundation for research in vision, health and nutrition. She worked for women’s suffrage and was an advocate for the working class who at the time worked under deplorable conditions. She also helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union whose mission is to “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
If it wasn’t for those who helped her during her childhood and college years, she would have accomplished none of this. She may not have learned to speak. In her autobiography of her early life, she speaks of how some people’s kind and encouraging words would keep her going through times of loneliness and frustration. There were others who opened up a whole world to her like Anne Sullivan and Alexander Graham Bell.
If it wasn’t for those people she wouldn’t have been able to inspire and help as many people as she has. This is true for all. We don’t know when our simply being there to give a word of encouragement to someone will cause a domino effect. You encourage them and they go on to encourage others.
At the time of her illness that left her blind and deaf, who would have guessed she would accomplish so much?
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. ~Ephesians 2:10
When you look up “God’s masterpiece”, I am not the picture you expect in the dictionary. A disabled, recovering porn addict puts me in “the least of these” category that Jesus was talking about. ( “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ ~~Matthew 25:40)
But God surrounded me with great people. People who didn’t see me how the world saw me, but how God saw me.
I starting to build a closer relationship with God, and starting speaking about it.
People tell me that they are encouraged by this blog.
People tell me that they were encouraged by my testimony.
Every once in awhile, we get a small glimpse of our effect on others. This week, I was blessed by one of those glimpses. This past weekend, our church shared the story of a young woman with a disability who found the church and got baptized. She was baptized after hearing our pastor tell the story of my baptism.
On Baptism Sunday, I watched Pastor Todd preach the importance of Baptism, and what that declaration of faith means to each one of us. He told us about a story about a man named Dwight, who’s a paraplegic and in a wheelchair just like me who finally left his house because he decided it was his time to attend a campus to be baptized. Something came over me at that moment. But I can’t explain. It was a feeling. Like I couldn’t leave church without being baptized. If Dwight could do it, why couldn’t I? ~Nahdias (on the video starting 1:30)
This story touched me to the point of tears. It is amazing to see one action affect someone else so many years later. When I got baptized, it wasn’t to inspire others. It was just out of obedience that I acted. If we all were just obedient when the spirit moved us, imagine the impact we could have on the world. It could just be a kind or uplifting word that could change the course of someone’s life.
I would have thought you crazy if you would have told me at the time that my getting baptized would have any effect on anyone.
What do Paul, Helen, and I have in common? Faith. None of us were looking to be great. That’s why God chose us.
To look at us by the world’s standards, we are the last people that would affect anyone else. But look at what God did.
I encourage all of you to be faithful in whatever you do. No matter how insignificant it may seem. You may be encouraging the next Billy Graham or the scientist who will one day cure cancer. You just may be increasing the kingdom.