Jesus Meets Us in Unexpected Places

Copyright: raikhel / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: raikhel / 123RF Stock Photo

Ever had one of those life-changing, eye-opening moments? I was reminded of mine as I read the story of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

As a Pharisee, he was among the most respected and revered among his fellow Israelites. As a student of Gamaliel, he had a top-notch religious education. As a Roman citizen and son of prominent Benjamite parents, he enjoyed much more privilege than the average Jerusalem dweller.

No doubt, he was on track for High Priest someday. He had everything going for him.

Except one thing: his relationship with God centered on performance. Education, wealth,

Copyright: sedmak / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: sedmak / 123RF Stock Photo

status, and zeal for serving in the temple equated to a life lived for Jehovah, the one, true God. At least in his worldview.

Saul passionately opposed a faith-based relationship with God (with the most sincere intention to serve God) until one day a question stopped him short. “Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Saul responded like anyone might. “Who are You, Lord?”

I can so relate to Paul’s experience. I thought I could see my way to the life I’ve always wanted by creating a good, Christian home where our children were respectful and we said grace before dinner every night. I volunteered at the girls’ Christian school, served in church, and studied my Bible. I actually thought I could achieve righteousness through a performance-based faith.

If I could win the approval of others who “had it together,” those I was sure had God’s favor, then maybe it was an indication that I, too, had won God’s favor.

In reality, it was all a façade to cover up my desperate plea for significance. No matter how much I did or achieved, I could never feel significant enough.

Then I started having the flashbacks. Childhood memories of shameful things happening to me wrecked my stage-perfect Christian woman identity and helped tear down the false front. With my cover lost, I would have to admit that my identity wasn’t just a Christian wife and homeschooling mom, teacher, and writer. I was forced to finally ask Jesus for healing from neglect and abuse.

Copyright: flynt / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: flynt / 123RF Stock Photo

Though I hated going through it, now I can see it for the gift it was. And when I was ready, Jesus was waiting to rescue me.

Much like Saul’s white-light experience on the road to Damascus, God intervened with just one question.

“Will you trust me with your story, Lyneta?”

I had been trying to rewrite my own story, but I could never erase the hurtful scenes, no matter how hard I tried.

I had no idea what would happen, but from then on I started asking, “Who are You, Lord?”

Copyright: igor1105 / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: igor1105 / 123RF Stock Photo

Like Saul, I needed friends around me who could lead me by the hand. For awhile, it was okay to be broken because I could trust that God was writing the end of my story. It was a relief to put down that pen.

I came to know a Jesus who loved and accepted me just as I was, even with all my flaws and shameful past. Despite all my Bible knowledge, I had always unconsciously dismissed Jesus’ unconditional love, because that was for other people.

I can’t honestly say that I still trust perfectly. Often, I need reminding that my worth doesn’t come from external achievement but from merely being created in His image. (That’s why He’s tasked me to write on this topic!)

Page by page, God is helping me see from Scripture who Jesus is and His true character. He’s taking that Biblical head knowledge and imprinting it on my heart, remolding me into someone who can be okay with “not put together” and allow Him to work through the mess.

For now, I’m content to know that whatever Jesus does with this imperfect mess, I’m His imperfect mess. All I have to do is keep asking, “Who are You, Lord?” and He’ll keep showing me—my life will reflect whatever part He wants to reveal.

What about you? Have you had any eye-opening moments? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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