I’ve never met Billy Graham.
I don’t have one of the Stanley’s numbers in my phone.
But I know an awful lot of people who are just as important to the kingdom of God. They may never get a chance to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast. The biggest crowd they’ll ever speak to is that collection of runny-nosed four-year-olds they teach a Sunday School lesson to every week.
The mark of someone who belongs to Jesus is not a ton of Twitter followers or a large platform. The mark of a true disciple is obedience. Sometimes obedience will carry you to a war zone to tell people about Jesus. Sometimes it will have you speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast. More than likely, obedience will have you telling a few people about Jesus in that war zone otherwise known as the children’s Sunday School class.
Wherever your devotion to Christ lands you, there is no better place for you to be than in that place.
Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” Acts 9:10-12 (ESV)
Ananias was eager to hear what God had to say. That might be because he didn’t yet know what God was going to say. When God told Ananias to visit a man named Saul, it was comparable to him telling us today to take a trip over to ISIS headquarters to lead a quick Bible study.
Like Moses before him, Ananias tried to talk God out of the idea.
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” Acts 9:13-14 (ESV)
Verse 15 does not say, “Suddenly the Lord realized that Ananias had a point and reconsidered his plan. After all, the Lord wouldn’t want his people doing anything uncomfortable.”
Here’s what verse 15 does say.
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:15 (ESV)
Not, “Nothing bad will happen to you, Ananias.”
Just one word, followed by a little explanation.
There was no promise of safety or even worldly success. Just a command. Go.
And Ananias did just that. He didn’t buy a ticket to Tarshish. There’s no giant fish in this story. Just a simple servant of Christ who didn’t allow his fears to overshadow his obedience. Ananias obeyed. Even if obedience to Christ takes you to the home of an anti-Christian terrorist, there is no better place for you to be.
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized. Acts 9:17-18 (ESV)
Saul would later become Paul. He would preach before many. He would suffer much for the kingdom of Christ. Thirteen of his letters are in our New Testament. Paul is a big deal. But so is Ananias.
I never got to meet Billy Graham. He’s a big deal.
But so is Gene Hancock. Before he died, he spent his free time sharing the gospel at a truck stop. I’m glad that I got to know him.
Turk Holt is a big deal too. He has spent most of his life pouring the gospel into young people. I’m glad that I got to learn from him.
When we die, Jesus will not ask us how big our platform was or if we had enough Twitter followers. He’s more concerned with our obedience. Here on earth, there’s no telling where our obedience will take us. But when our time here is done, this much is certain. By grace, our obedience will take us the the welcoming embrace of an accepting Savior.
So no matter how frustrated you are or how unappreciated you feel, don’t quit. Sometimes obedience to Christ and worldly success go together. But when they do not, always remember that there is no better place to be than the place where obedience takes you.
And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:22-23 (ESV)