He was a brilliant young man with a promising career. He spoke several languages. At an early age people recognized his intelligence, skill and passion. He was driven. The force of his will alone enough to get him noticed. He studied under the very best teachers. But there was even more to Saul’s story. It’s like he was born for this. He had just the right pedigree. He was related to all the right people.
A brilliant mind plus passionate skill plus family, academic & political connections became a formula for Saul’s stratospheric rise to success. He climbed rapidly through the ranks outshining all of his colleagues. He gained special privileges and became known as the go to man for any job, no matter how difficult. He was well on his way to becoming one of the most recognized, well-respected and influential men in his field.
But something happened. His life was interrupted.
This once rising star that burned so brightly exploded then faded into anonymity. For three years there was silence. When Saul finally returned he was still brilliant and passionate. But something significant had changed. No longer would he tow the party line. Gone were the days he would sit idly by as his colleagues and superiors clawed their way to the top of a system that had become corrupt to the core and abusive to people. He began to teach and organize, gather and train a new generation of people.
It offended the establishment.
On many occasions Saul was arrested. He was beaten for his new found belief. Several times the abuse was so bad he was left for dead. His journey’s were perilous. Three different times the ship he was on sank. On one of these trips, after the shipwreck, he spent a night and a day in the water waiting for rescue. He left home and family behind. He became a ‘wanted’ man – but not for his brilliance. He was wanted for rebelling against the system that raised him.
His last days spent in prison. His last breath taken just before his head.
What kind of interruption can cause this kind of transformation? What causes a man to leave behind a promising future for a life filled with struggle and difficulty? We know the answer. Saul wrote it down.
He says, “If anyone thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I many know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one think I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“
Saul met Jesus. His life was interrupted. His name was changed to Paul and nothing since has been the same.
Has knowing Jesus interrupted your life? I wonder what it means if it hasn’t.