“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
Never was there a man who up to that moment felt less need of asking such a question. Never was there a man whose path was plainer before him. Never a man more sure of his purpose and his goal in life or more determined to reach it. And yet this man asked the question: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
From his youth up he had been devoted to the study and the maintenance of the religion of Israel. In the Christian Gospel he saw only a blasphemous assault on the faith of the fathers, and in Jesus a wicked impostor. But now came the great question and the great change. As he drew near to the city of Damascus, suddenly a bright light shone from heaven, a light so bright that it blinded him, and the fierce persecutor fell helpless to the ground.
As he lay there he heard a voice which said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4). The astonished Saul replied, “Who art Thou, Lord?” (Acts 9:5). Then the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” To this Saul answered, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” Then he was told what he was to do.
He had been chosen to know the just One, to be a chosen vessel unto Christ and witness to His name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel, to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God that they might receive forgiveness of sins. He was also told that he was to suffer great things for the sake of the name of Jesus.
All this was the direct opposite of what he had been doing. Never was a man turned more completely around. He was told to preach as the Son of God and Messiah the very Jesus whom he had reviled; to build up the church he had tried to destroy; to spread the Gospel that he detested; to plead with men to come to Christ, instead of imprisoning and slaying them for believing on Him. That was what Saul was now commanded to do. By the grace of God he did it.
Wisdom For Life’s Purpose
“What wilt Thou have me to do?” This is an appropriate question for every Christian to ask. In our best moments all of us, I think, would like to do the will of God That is man’s highest achievement. Even Jesus said that it was His “meat … to do the will of Him that sent Me” (John 4:34).
Whatever work in life is chosen, and whatever calling someone follows, in that calling he or she can honor God and do good to his fellow man. For every one of us there is a particular work to do. On the front of the house on a hilltop in Pittsburgh, where astronomer John Brashear made his first telescopes, is this inscription: “Somewhere beneath the stars is a work which you alone were meant to do. Never rest until you have found it.”
Direction in Life’s Choices
“Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” This is often asked by an earnest soul when facing some important choice or decision. No moral issue is involved, and yet it will have a profound influence upon the life. Take the question of marriage. With regard to this step in life the question is ever timely, and especially so today, when so many marriages falter and fail. One of the reasons why they turn out that way is because the couples have not asked, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
Strength in Life’s Troubles
When confronted by some denial or frustration in life, the soul will sometimes say, “You have closed this door against me. Why is it so? What is it that Thou wilt have me to do?”
Paul must have asked this frequently. He had that thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7), perhaps a disease of the eyes, or some other painful and humiliating and hindering affliction. Three times he earnestly asked God to take this thorn from him. No doubt he wondered why God permitted such an affliction when he was so anxious to preach the Gospel. The prayer was not granted; the thorn was not plucked. But Paul learned that this thorn was God’s final will for him, and it became to him a source of strength. “When I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
The supreme illustration of doing God’s will is that of Jesus Himself. He not only taught us to pray, “Thy will be done,” but in the Garden of Gethsemane, in His sore agony when He knelt before His cup and prayed, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me,” He concluded His prayer by saying, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39). So for you, too, it is possible to serve and glorify God by submitting to His will.
Correction in the Wrong Path
Before he was converted, Paul was on the wrong path and doing the wrong thing. The moment he knew he was wrong, Paul turned about, asked God which way to go, and when the way was made plain, took it immediately. When you find yourself on a wrong path and God has made plain His way and His will to you, then there is only one thing to do, and that is to take that way and to take it at once.
Paul said that when he heard the voice of God, when he asked the question, “What wilt Thou have me to do?” and got the answer, he was “not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). But how many there are to whom God speaks His warning and shows His way, yet who are not obedient to that heaven-sent vision. Instead, they go on in the wrong path, a path which can only lead to sorrow and shame and misery.
There is one thing that stands out in all this record of Paul’s conversion, and that is how God earnestly wanted him to come to Christ. This was God’s will for Paul. It is God’s will for you and me, too. For God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). That is the will of God for you. Have you done that? Have you repented? Have you come to Christ?
Take this as your motto: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” This will free you from the only thing in the future we have to fear—which is the fruit of not doing the will of God.
—Condensed from The Greatest Questions of the Bible and of Life by Clarence E. Macartney.