Perhaps most of us have had them. They started with such creative anticipation that we could not wait to get started. We see the under appreciated specimen that simply begs to be lovingly cajoled back into a state of notability – reclaimed from the refuse pile to once again serve as an exemplar of what ‘it’ was originally designed to be. In some instances, we even dream of improvising on the original product with modern stylistic or technological improvements.
I am sure basket cases have been around for thousands of years. We finally get the motorcycle, truck, house, clock, rocking chair, or quilt at a price that makes restoration possible. We dismantle the various pieces with care. Each step gets archived with cell phone snapshots as we discover the inner workings of the object. If videoing the process, then we would also capture the occasional groan as we uncover unanticipated strata of wear as well as gleeful shouts of joy that escape when you find the delightful inner workings left behind by a long-forgotten craftsman. Fortunately cell phones have not evolved to the place where they also capture the musty smells of tired yesterdays.
Acts 9 powerfully records varying layers of God’s basket case project – He is restoring all of creation. In fact, this basket case occupies all of His power and authority. He so loved the basket case that He gave His only begotten Son. The resurrected Son revealed His strategic choice to commission, empower, and send His followers into the basket restoration work of making disciples.
I stand in awe at God’s ability to use unlikely situations for His reconstruction project. Zealots who thought they had God figured out can actually hear from God, be blinded to stop their running, and receive a godly commission through the hands of a normal disciple. The zealot did not receive a word about going to heaven. God had a much larger plan than that. Nations, kings, and his kinsmen would hear of God’s grace through Saul. Suffering would be a normal part of the process rather than something to be avoided in a prayer meeting.
Normal disciples would learn to answer, “Here am I,” as did the lad Samuel many centuries before. Normal disciples would experience and express their fear when God chose to expand His body to do His work. Expansion always presents new anxieties. The Remodeler, however, is always present in His spirit to replace fear with open hospitality. Such work far exceeds a mere “salvation experience”. Being saved changed the zealots and mobilized the fearful.
The Gospel spread.
After the wicker elevator got Saul out of one trap, he found himself facing another doubting part of the church. Barnabas served as Ananias had in previous days of tension. Testimony become the key resource for pulling the believers together. Barnabas and Saul told the story. Anxieties reduced within the body so they could face the doubts outside of the body. The gospel spread. New threats came. Basket case Saul still had revelations to receive and maturity to experience. Many miles lay in front of him. He would die, but not that day.
The fear-filled church experienced some maturation. This one church spread from Judea and Galilee and on to Samaria. Peace and growth came as they feared the Lord, learned to be comforted by the Holy Spirit, and incorporated new believers – all normal stuff for the Basket Case Remodeler!
Acts 9 does not end with this preface to world evangelism. More remodeling needed to be done. The church needed to see some paralytics raised, deceased caregivers valued, and dead brought back to life. The Basket Case Remodeler could be seen in the minds, hands, and hearts of His people.
His plan for reclamation of the world remains the same today.
I think I need to pray.
Remodeling always requires deconstruction, purifying, and reassembling with purpose. I celebrate all of the wonderful evidence of Your basket case work that I have seen over my lifetime. You have blessed my path with evidence of Your reclamation work that parallels Acts 9.
When I read of the violence and fear in this single chapter, I realize so little has changed in the process. Do You ever grow weary of confronting Your church as you call us to live out Your mission? Do You grow weary of resistance when You bring in ex-zealots to do worldwide transformation? Could You heal all of our eyes and ears so we can receive those who once hated us rather than hide in fear and self-defensiveness? How many Sauls set in blind confusion waiting for normal disciples to bring a commission rather than “just” the opportunity to be saved?
Help me to say, “Here I am” to Your call and commission today.
In Jesus’ Name,