Knowing does make a difference.
Had the pleasure of watching a high school football game last night. It was a tale of two teams at two completely different levels of learning and progression. The visiting team, a veteran team, was big, fast, athletic, and well schooled in their playbook. The home team, a young team, was big, fast, athletic and still learning their playbook.
While the visitors would reel off three and four plays without huddling, the home team would methodically call their plays from the sidelines and carefully check the play on their wristbands. The visitors scored at will and they seemed to know what they wanted to do and executed as such. The home team seemed unsure and not certain of their assignments. Needless to say, our boys were on the short end of a lop-sided score. They never gave up, they never stopped trying! They are still learning!
In this morning's Bible reading, I noticed the difference between knowing and not knowing. When confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul, who did not know Jesus, was carefully trying to figure out what was going on and what he should do next. Check out Saul's response.
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up
and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”.... ....Saul got up from the
ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into
Damascus. (Acts 9:5, 6, 8, NIV)
When confronted by Jesus, Paul asked, "Who are you Lord?" It is truly a learning moment. It is a time of revelation, an unveiling of sorts. Jesus obliges Saul and educates Saul on the Holy presence before him. You can almost see Saul looking down at the list of plays on his wrist but his blindness does not allow clarity. He needs help. Now, take a look at a different response to the Lord. This response is from one who knows Jesus, one who has followed Jesus, and one who has learned the playbook.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision,“Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered. (Acts 9:10, NIV)
No hesitation and no reservation comes out in Ananais' response. He doesn't need to double check his wrist for the play. In fact, he has no plays written on a wristband. An intimate walk with Jesus has given Ananais confidence. It may have taken Ananais a long time of struggle to come to that place of knowing but he is there none the less. Eventually, we see Saul come to that place of learning and confidence.
I have had folks tell me they struggle with how to connect with God and receive His grace and forgiveness (How to learn the 'playbook' of faith). Understanding God's grace as a gift simplifies the learning process. It boils down to not how one goes about obtaining the gifts of God ("Who are you Lord?") but by reaching out a hand and receiving them ("Yes, Lord."). Your learning (head knowledge) needs the Holy Spirit's assistance to bring you into an intimate relationship (heart knowledge) with your Lord. (The 'playbook' is then embedded into your heart and the response is a natural, "Yes Lord!"