Saul of Tarsus on the Road to Damascus
St. Paul‘s conversion to being an Apostle of Jesus Christ has all hallmarks of an internal experience. (The Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9, is where you can read about the ‘event’:)
The impact on Saul’s life was ‘blind-siding’. And, in this day and age, we would understand that his lack of sight must have been psychosomatic. The stress of his work, hunting down the Apostles, plus the heat of the day, would have been the initial cause. But what Jesus said to him was like a ‘bolt out of the blue’. His conscience was pricked, for sure. (Surprising, Jesus used that term, himself, at least in the King James Version.)
The guilt must have been overwhelming.
For Saul, this was totally unexpected. Had he been wrong, all his life, up to this point? But what if he had just been avoiding what his life’s plan was? The ‘crisis’ needed to wake him up to the truth of the situation: he was working for the wrong side.
A Reluctant Christ Bearer
People who take a specific path in life (a road to Damascus…) are sometimes shocked into changing course because of an accident or illness. Near death experiences are a case in point. Coming back from the dead can be a life changer.
Saul, also known as Paul, may have experienced an NDE. At any rate, he changed his life. But the people around him couldn’t see the reason why. Even the Apostles, and especially Peter, didn’t believe it was possible for a former prosecutor of the new “Christian” believers to completely convert to their side. Was this a trick? they thought.
I guess Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. His flock needed to include Gentiles, but Peter had a hard time reconciling this idea with his Jewish faith. So Paul (a Roman Jew) was needed to be the keeper of Jesus’ “other” flocks.
Turns out, he was right.
“Hollywood favorite John Travolta stars in this acclaimed, uplifting story of an ordinary man transformed by extraordinary events! On the night of his 37th birthday, George Malley (Travolta) is knocked to the ground by a mysterious, blinding light and suddenly develops amazing mental abilities! With his newfound knowledge, George astounds everyone in town. But when his incredible powers cause even his oldest friends to turn away, George comes to realize that his wondrous experience has changed him and the lives of everyone around him forever.” (YouTube Movies blurb)
See, it can happen to anyone!