And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.
Paul was going to Damascus to persecute Christians, to punish people for following and serving Jesus Christ. He was a man zealous for God, for Judaism, for the defense of his faith. But it is in the midst of those duties of seeking to hurt some people that Jesus comes to Paul and saves him. Jesus steps into Paul’s life at one of his worst moments—not while he is in the temple or in prayer or studying Scripture, but when he is on a mission of evil.
We don’t have to get right with God before we can get right with God. He comes to us where we are, sometimes in the midst of our worst sins, when we’re the worst possible version of ourselves, and intervenes then with His great mercy. He doesn’t always wait for us to be seeking Him to step into our lives. And He takes us from that place and starts to mold us and shape us and change us into something else. But it’s always after we’ve come to know and understand who Jesus is that we really start to become who we are supposed to be.
Where we are right now is always God’s starting point to work in our lives, whether it’s for salvation first or a stage of growth after we’re saved. When we’re willing to surrender to Him and trust Him fully, He starts doing His transformative work. When we’re willing to leave behind an old path, He’ll take us somewhere new. When we’re willing to let go of one thing, He’ll add something else in its place.
Paul never sugarcoats his past. He owns up to who he was and the things he’d done. And it was never because he was proud of those things or to boast about them, but to expose the grace, power, and love of Christ, to magnify and glorify Him even more. We all have a past. We all have that version of ourselves that we used to be before God got ahold of us and made some real and lasting difference in our lives. And we can use those experiences to show others the amazing power God has to change lives. And these changes don’t come from our own efforts, but only from the work of Christ in us.