“Palitha, you may have difficulty in continuing with the choir”. Something similar to those words, were spoken to me by our Choir Director; one of my closest mentors. I had always loved music and one of the first ministries I signed up for, after accepting Jesus, was the choir. But now, my Choir Director had to break the unpleasant news to me. I apparently had a problem with correctly pitching musical notes.
As I look back upon that encounter, what I remember most is the grace and love with which the Choir Director handled what was obviously an unpleasant task. I might have otherwise given up on ministry altogether.
Many times in our Christian service, we have to handle what may seem like unpleasant tasks. These could include encouraging a terminally ill patient, breaking the news of a death to a family, conducting the funeral of a child, responding to a harsh critic, sharing the Gospel with someone who is antagonist towards Christianity, or correcting someone in love. But, when God assigns us to such a task, it is vital that we obey him.
Ananias’ Unpleasant Assignment:
In the Book of Acts, we come across a respected Disciple whose name is not often recorded in scripture. Yet, what he was called to do, though an unpleasant task for him, would impact Christianity forever. The Disciple was Ananias and he was directed by God to minister to Saul, the deadliest enemy of the Christian faith. Saul had just arrived in his town, Damascus, with a clear agenda. It was to arrest and chain all Christians, including Ananias, and to deport them forcibly to Jerusalem.
When Ananias was therefore commissioned by God to go and pray for Saul, who was now blinded, it would have been a task that he wouldn’t want to touch. He probably would have been in hiding when the Lord spoke to him in a vision. Ananias argued the matter with God, since his knowledge of how the Lord had met Saul on the Damascus road would have been hazy. I can only imagine the tension he went through! However, he handled this unpleasant assignment with incredible grace. He fearlessly approaches Saul, and calls him by the loving term ‘Brother’. He lays hands on Saul, praying for his sight to be restored and for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ananias then begins mentoring this arch-enemy of the faith, eventually baptizing him. As a result, Saul immediately began preaching about Jesus!
What a testimony for a man whose ministry is recorded in just two passages in the Bible! Many years later, Saul, now known as Paul, speaks endearingly of how Ananias ministered to him on that eventful day (Acts 22:12-16). He remembered Ananias’ role in his now powerful ministry.
What difficult task is before you today? Is it to share the Gospel with someone who hates Jesus? Is it to bring counsel to a wayward relative? To bring reconciliation between two estranged families? Is there anything else? Are you willing to step out, trusting God? As with Ananias’ story, God will be honored and the results may well be powerful.
Coming back to my choir story, the Director and a few others worked tirelessly with me to help me overcome my singing difficulties. The end result was that I graduated to singing harmony in the choir, leading worship at church services, and serving for many years as Worship Pastor!
Ananias, handled an unpleasant task with grace. May God help us to do likewise?
Prayer – Lord help me to be willing to obey you in every assignment you give me. Thank you. Amen