This the first of three messages in a series called “Undoing.” Have you ever gone too far? Have you ever been caught in a problem that you now can’t quite ever get out of? The solution is found in a Person, not a program!
Bushnell Basin flood of October 29, 1974: A crew was building a sewer tunnel under the canal in Bushnell’s Basin on a beautiful late October day. The work was progressing nicely and they were toward the end of the project when the unthinkable happened.
The floor of the canal just collapsed into the tunnel. And in minutes millions of gallons of water from the canal flooded the immediate area with 4 – 6’ of water. It was like Niagara Falls, said one observer. Some houses were washed away, many flooded. Canal operators rushed to close the floodgates on either side of the break, but it was 20 minutes before they could complete that. Amazingly, no one was killed or even seriously injured. But it was traumatic. People were climbing telephone poles, trees, getting up on roofs. Famously, one lady was doing her laundry in her basement when the basement wall collapsed and she was carried up and out of her basement, landing in a tree, found there in only her underwear.
Now picture being the foreman, the engineer, the project manager on that crew. Oh snap. I’ve gone too far. This incredible disaster. It can’t be undone.
Things like that happen in human lives. We go too far, believing we’re right or distracted from the truth enough that once we realize where we are it’s too late. Now it’s one thing to have a physical disaster. Those can be bad enough. But what about personal life disasters?
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
1 Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
And in later references we find that some of those people died as a result of Saul’s actions.
Now that is what we call, “committed.” Saul was a Jew, a Pharisee and one who for some length of time, after travelling to Jerusalem from his home town of Tarsus, was discipled by the famous teacher, rabbi, Gamaliel. He was brilliant. He was a real Zealot. Along the way, he became not just aware of, but focused on a relatively new sect of Judaism, that is, Christians, people who followed “The Way.”
His determination was to forcibly rub out this impurity, as he saw it. He helped initiate a first, great persecution of Christians. And he made a havoc of the church. He ferreted out every believer he could find, dragged them off and placed many in prison. Later we read that there were deaths that occurred because of his actions, his promotion of violence against Christians. And as we just saw, he was consenting to and encouraging Stephen’s death by stoning. He was powerfully focused. He was very effective. But absolutely wrong.
Did he go too far? So far that there was no way to retrieve the situation? What would it take to undo what Saul had done?
1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Saul did have one thing going for him. He did all the wrong he did in relative ignorance. So here he is. Fuming, speaking under his breath, angry, self righteous, with an armed party of enforcers.
And then there’s God.
God is sovereign. He can do anything. And He can undo anything.
He has a way of designing the perfect solution, even in the face of human determination. Or ignorance.
Who are you, Lord? Excuse me sir, to whom am I speaking?
God had put Saul on the ground. Blinded. Incredibly impressed. And in a moment, changed his entire mindset.
I am Jesus. You are actually persecuting Me. No wonder you’re having a hard time, eh?
God can undo the wrong in your life. He can undo the addiction, the disaster, the crazy upbringing, the career path that took so much from you that your family is now teetering on the edge, the effects of the divorce and the loss of a loved one. He can undo your bad habits and your bad attitudes. We’re going to follow the life of Saul for a few weeks, who becomes Paul, and see how that works. But for today, let’s stay with the point. Only God can undo.
Oh, you can join a twelve step group and do well. You can set goals and priorities and meet them. But you’ll never undo what’s been done, unless God is on the case.
The power, the Person of God Himself can undo everything that’s been done that brings disaster, decline and deterioration. And the good news? He has made Himself available to you.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink..
Could it be any plainer? You need a Person, not a program. It may take time. But when God is involved, He can restore. And when He restores, He makes the end result better than things were beforehand.
Man made physical disasters can be fixed. Fender benders to canal floods. The canal at Bushnell’s Basin is just fine now, the houses repaired. But your life? It needs God personally.