Change and Conversion
It can easily be the case that we think that if we are a “pretty good person” than life will be ok. And perhaps on some level that is true. But in reality, we need to focus on something that is much more true, since it really is the first message of the gospel. We need to repent. Change. Turn your hearts closer to the Lord.
And so when we speak of conversion, we need to ask, “What is it I need to do to change?” “In what ways is God calling me to change?” This is a question that we should confront each day. For those who pray the liturgy of the hours each day, the Examination of our Conscience is the way we end the day, both thinking about the moments we responded to God’s grace, as well as those moments when we rejected it and sinned.
Truth be told, if we are hoping that like Saint Paul, whose conversion we celebrate today, then we need to be willing to surrender control to God. What is it that Saint Paul asks once he knows he is talking to Jesus? “What shall I do, sir?” This provides a pattern for our own change and conversion.
Step One: Know the Lord
Paul is not able to embrace change and conversion until he has encountered the Lord Jesus personally. “Who are you, sir?” While we may not encounter and meet Jesus in such a dramatic way as Saint Paul, it can very much be the case that an encounter with Jesus changes us if we let it.
So, what is it you do to place yourself in a place where you can meet the Lord Jesus? What do I mean? Well, do you spend some time in silence asking Jesus to come into your heart and soul? Do you read the Word of God, the Bible, to hear the Word of God? Do you say devotional prayers? Do you seek out other persons of faith to answer your questions or to support you in your faith?
The first step for change and conversion is to get to know Jesus. And for those who do know Jesus, an outcome for this relationship is the desire to share it with others. It is some that is an essential part of our life with Jesus.
Step Two: Ask
Paul then shows us the second step for change and conversion. “What shall I do, sir?” What is it that Jesus wants for us? What does he want us to do? Of course, as much as we can, we need to open our hearts to know to ask this of Jesus, and we need to be willing to respond to what God asks.
Like Saint Paul, change and conversion can be dramatic. It can also be the case that the change and conversion we are called to embrace is less dramatic. We know that Jesus can change even the hardest of hearts, and he loves and supports us to whatever change we need. But the first step is to ask.
Step Three: Act
What happens after Paul asks Jesus what he should do? Jesus expects him to act. ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.’ There is no time to waste. Paul is to get up, go to Damascus and being his preaching.
This causes us to ask the question, “What is it God wants us to do?” We need to be ready to recognize that our change and conversion will ask us to do something.
God gives talents and directs their use
In one way Saint Paul changed a lot. In other way, it was not so much that he changed, but the relationship to which he opened himself to have helped him to use the gifts and talents in a way that pleased God.