Right now I’m staring down situations that might cause me to make decisions in ways I never thought I would. Decisions regarding marriage, career, family, and making some choices that look a whole lot like things I’ve advised friends not to do. When I look back on myself even just a few years ago, I never imagined I would be in this place, in this season of life. And there’s a big part of me that really fears what my closest friends and family think of me, will they see me as hypocritical if I change my mind?
I’ve been considering this question just a little bit these days, somewhere in the back of my mind. But it jumped to the foreground the morning I was reading about Saul’s conversion in the book of Acts.
This man, Saul, was known and feared for arresting and imprisoning followers of Jesus. He was present and approving of the death of the first martyr, (Acts 8:1), and threatened to kill them himself (9:1) He was on his way to Damascus where he would get paperwork to further help him in arresting Christians the day his whole world was shaken. He heard the voice of Jesus in a light shining from heaven. And this voice called him by name. He fell to the ground and was blinded for three days. And who came along to heal him but a timid follower of Jesus, leading him to give his life over to the cause he had just been devoting himself to fighting against.
After Saul gave his life to Christ and began preaching, people were skeptical of him, questioning, “Isn’t this the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” (9:21)
People remembered who he was before. Maybe even those same people he threw in prison were sitting in the very cells he put them in, remembering his heartless demeanor as he persecuted them for this faith he is now claiming. This man was now preaching exactly what they had been arrested for believing. I bet you they were all confused and maybe even angry.
And his fellow Jewish pharisees were probably saying, “How could you turn your back on us? After all we’ve been through. Our people worked together to kill this Jesus guy, and now you say you believe He is the Son of God?” They saw him as a traitor.
But only Saul knew what happened that day Jesus spoke through light on that road to Damascus. Some men traveling with him were there but only Saul knew what it was like to be blind for three days and be healed by someone he would have seen as inferior to him just a few days earlier. Only Saul felt what that change in his heart was like. That change that Jesus said would make him the “chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” (9:15)
In my life I’ve never had such a dramatic experience as a light in the form of Jesus calling my name, blinding me and making me see I was on the wrong path in life. But I’ve had my share of unexpected turns of events.
Growing up I swore I would never live alone. I thought it would be too scary to even live in an apartment by myself somewhere in Michigan. Yet here I am, living by myself in East Africa.
My whole childhood I listened to my mom say she would never leave America, too many interesting places to see in our own country, why would she go elsewhere? Then just a month into my first trip to Uganda I receive word that she’s coming—completely unprovoked by me.
In college my heart was broken and I said I would never get married before I turned 30, little did I know, within three years I would be 24 and engaged to a man I met deep in an African village.
After my first three months in Uganda I told myself and others that I didn’t have an interest in teaching music anymore, I wanted to serve the poor. Lo and behold, God called me back to Uganda through a job as a high school music teacher for some of the most privileged children in the country.
Scripture and my own life have showed me that it’s okay to change your tune. You shouldn’t fear what others will say when you turn and go the opposite way you said you would. There is a need to apologize when you realize the decision you told all of your friends not to make seems to actually be the right one.
And these things are okay only as long as God is at the heart of the change.
It’s one thing to make up your mind and change it willy-nilly, whenever you please, but I’m starting to realize it’s okay to change your mind and maybe appear hypocritical, if it’s something God has done. When your heart and mind are changed because of something GOD DID, that is not an embarrassment. That is worth sharing.
I think it’s natural for us to worry what people will think of us when we do change our minds and admit we were wrong before. Saul himself hid in a basket to escape the threats of Jews wanting to kill him after his conversion. But he never stopped preaching his testimony of what God did inside him.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” —1 Timothy 1:15-16
God is in the business of changing hearts and when he brings us from darkness to light, from wrong to right, it is a testimony to Him. It’s not something to hide or be ashamed of because He deserves to be glorified.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” —Ezekiel 36:26
“Sometimes His best work is not what he does for us but what He does inside us.”