Written by Steven Liechty
"Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank." - Acts 9:7-9
A dazed Paul is laid up after being knocked from his horse to the ground. But he's laid up only for a while. It won't be long before he hits the ground again—this time, running. He's going to find out, once he can see and starts taking nourishment, why the early Christian church called itself "The Way." Life in Jesus is not a stationary affair.
Pretty soon it'll be hard to keep track of him, whether on land or sea; harder still to keep up with him as he knocks other people off their horses and off their courses, announcing a Messiah who himself threw everything off balance.
He'll be called a fanatic by some folks in later generations, and there's a reason or two for that; but mostly he was just restless. Charged up, you might say. Hit out of the blue by a bolt from heaven, as another writer put it, "forever after he had the jitters for Christ."
It'd be tough on everyone if our churches were filled only with people who share Paul's agitated temperament! We need some quiet, calm ones to keep the ship steady in the water. But we'll surely be sunk if there's no one who's been struck with the urgent compulsion to be up and running; if this whole religion and church thing is just a really interesting idea to be considered at arm's length from overstuffed chairs; if our journey of faith starts and ends with studying the map, and we never set foot on The Way.
Give us a holy restlessness, O God of mission. Make us eager to be on the Way with Jesus, impelled by love, alive with joy, and bent on mercy.
Mary Luti is Visiting Professor of Christian History and Worship at Andover Newton Theological School, Newton, Massachusetts.