This short story might be the most personal stories I’ve ever written. I wrote this back in 2019 out of a personal encounter I had with God. I felt like I had a moment like Paul did where I met Jesus suddenly while I was on my way to somewhere else. And just like Paul, it changed my life. Even going back to this story now moves me to tears as I reflect on my own personal moment of salvation, how I experienced those scales in heaven weighing out my guilt and then falling away—of being declared innocent. It changed my life. And I pray that it changes yours as well. 

Approx. 10 min read

Paul’s Conversion

“Saul, should we stop and rest?” Demetrius called out. Simeon and Ananias stopped their debating to look up and hear Saul’s response. 

Saul looked back and thought for a second. They probably should stop and rest, especially if they wanted to keep their donkey from falling ill from exhaustion. But no! They couldn’t rest. Not while such traitors where getting away with tricking so many Jews away from the true faith. At this very moment, they could be leading more astray.

“No, we need to keep going, at any cost. We all know what is at stake here.” Saul replied. Saul turned around and began walking again, at an even brisker pace.

Demetrius seemed to swallow his response and followed Saul. Simeon and Anasis did the same.

Good. Saul thought. They trust my leadership and will follow me. That will prove helpful when they get to Damascus and begin arresting these Followers of the Way. It was never easy business taking men and women as prisoners and Saul hoped he chose his companions well enough to help him make those hard decisions. 

The road Saul was following made a sharp turn on an already rocky and steep part of their journey. Saul knew that the next few miles would continue to lead uphill before finally evening out. It was going to be hard part of the journey and Saul started to feel the urgency again and picked up the pace. He had to get to Damascus to see out his mission. These Followers of the Way needed to be caught and delivered justice for what they were doing. 

Suddenly, a brightness surrounded Saul. Everything illuminated around him in white light, to the point where he could see nothing ahead of him other than the light. He fell down, shocked and confused at what he was experiencing. It was as if the sun had appeared next to him and had lit up the world around him. 

Was there someone in front of him, or was the intensity of the light making it appear so? The light became brighter and more beautiful and at the same time, Saul began to feel exposed. The anger he was feeling a moment before seemed to dissipate out of him as other deep seated thoughts and emotions bubbled up and then drained out. 

Overcome, Saul closed his eyes and covered them. The light was beginning to permeate deep into his inner being. Just when Saul thought he could not take another second of the light burning into him, he heard a voice calling out his name. 


It was faint at first, but it got louder. 


As Saul heard his name called out, a sense safety washed over him. It sounded like a long lost friend was calling him, beckoning him to a home he didn’t know was so near. 

“Why are you persecuting me?” 

Saul was shocked at the question. Who was speaking to him? Was it the figure in the light?

“Who are you?” Saul asked. He paused for a moment. “Lord?” He asked.

“I am Jesus.” The voice replied. 

As the words were spoken, everything the light was invoking inside of him increased. The anger and darkness raged inside of him as the light and the words of Jesus penetrated deep inside into his spirit. At the same time, the sense of home that Saul first felt as his name was called, increased. It was like Saul had a found a home he never knew he was missing, like a part of him that somehow he knew was empty his whole life was finally filled. At that moment, Saul found himself, the real him. And when he looked up, he looked into the face of the only one who ever really mattered. Jesus, a man, but so much more than a man. His glory shone around him and he stood beckoning Paul in. His eyes burned like coals of fire and inside them, Paul saw overflowing love and compassion. Jesus stooped down and looked Paul face to face and touched his heart. Inside, his heart began to burn, almost unbearably. And what felt like eternity but also in a moment, it stopped.

“Now get up.” Jesus called out. “Go into the city, and you will be told what to do.”

Immediately the light disappeared, the voice was gone and darkness overcame Saul. How bright the light was, great still was the darkness that surrounded him. Paul stood up and realized the darkness wasn’t leaving him. He tried to open his eyes and realized his eyes were already open! Saul blinked and shook his head. It couldn’t be. He was blind. There was silence around him. 

“Saul!” It sounded like Simeon. “Saul, are you okay?”

Saul heard the footsteps of Simeon, Demetrius and Ananais come up. 

“We heard what sounded like a thundering voice and saw a bright light appear. We’re not sure what happened, were you speaking to an angel?” Simeon asked.

Saul didn’t know what to say. What just happened? And how was he blind? All he could remember was the white light he saw everywhere. And the voice, the voice of Jesus. Remembering the words of the voice, Saul knew what he had to do next.

“You need to take me into the city. You need to help me get to Damascus.”

“Yes,” Demetrius agreed, but sounding confused. “That’s where we’re going. We’re a few days journey from there.”

“No,” Saul exclaimed, “You don’t understand, I don’t care about our mission anymore, I need to get to Damascus to find out next what He wants from me.”

“What who wants from you?” Simeon jumped in and asked. “Who were you speaking to?”

All of a sudden, the weight of revelation of the moment Saul just had hit him. He met Jesus. Jesus the Nazarene. The one they said died and was resurrected. The one that the Followers of the Way believed was the Messiah. And Saul knew it was all true. The very thing he made his life’s mission to end was the truth of this world. Jesus was the Messiah. He took a step forward as if reaching out to the Jesus who wasn’t there, but tripped and fell again. 

Simeon reached down to grab him, “Are you okay?” Saul felt Simeon squat down next to him. “Saul, can you see?” Simeon asked quietly as he most likely inspected Saul’s face and eyes.

“I can’t, I don’t know what happened.” Paul replied. “I think I’m blind.” 

Paul felt Demetrius and Ananais squat down next to him as well.

“Who was it who spoke to you?” Demetrius asked again, this time with a hint of fear in his voice. 

“You need to help me get to the city, at any cost, you need to help me get there.” Saul simply replied. 

There was a silence and Saul felt they were all exchanging looks. 

“Help me up” Saul asked.

Everyone stood up and Demetrius grabbed Saul’s hands and pulled him up. “Can you walk?” He asked. 

Saul tried taking another step and hit a rock and almost fell again. “I’m not sure” he replied.

Simeon took his hand and led him around the large rock that Saul almost tripped on. 

“We’re going to have to lead you down this road,” Simeon observed. 

Each of the men took turns helping Saul navigate the road to Damascus, guiding him over rocks and around ditches and warning him of turns in the road. Saul was utterly helpless, he couldn’t do anything without his sight. 

After what felt like hours, Ananasis announced that they should set up camp for the night. Saul had no idea what time it was or if it was dark. As the men set up camp, Saul sat off the road. All he could think about was the voice that he heard earlier. And the light, the marvelous light. Inside, Saul felt different, changed. All of a sudden, a wave of nausea hit Saul, he leaned over the side of the rock he was sitting on and heaved. Anger flashed in his mind and dissipated. He heaved again, this time relinquishing the meager contents of his stomach. Saul groaned, what was happening to him?

“Saul!” Simeon called, rushing over. “Are you okay?” Saul didn’t have a response. His entire world was turning upside down. 

“I think I just need to lay down.” Saul replied. Simeon helped him stand up and led him over to the fire they had built. Saul laid down on his mat and closed his eyes. The act felt so weird and unnatural, to close his already unseeing eyes. 

Saul let his mind drift away, to dreams of light and darkness, to images of Jesus of Nazarene. The Messiah, the Christ. In his dreams, Saul saw the Followers of the Way that he persecuted, saw the people he had imprisoned and killed. He felt their pain and sorrow and the felt the overwhelming guilt of all that he had done. He had killed, killed out of a sense of justice, out of what he thought was right. But he was wrong. So wrong. 

Saul and his companions continued on the difficult journey for another two days. Saul relied on his friends to guide him along the rocky road. He couldn’t eat or drink and occasionally experienced similar symptoms of nausea as emotions of anger and bitterness flared up uncontrollably. Every time he threw up, he saw more and more of the people he persecuted, of the lives he ended. And at night, Saul would dream of the light. As he felt darkness surround more and more of him in his blindness, Saul held on more desperately to the light he knew existed. Of the last thing he truly saw. 

Relief washed over Saul as he heard the bustling of a city get louder. They must be arriving in Damascus. It felt like a lifetime ago that Saul rushed to Damascus with letters in hand to imprison Followers of the Way. Saul couldn’t even remember what caused so much urgency in him.

Saul’s companions led him to the house of Judas, one of the leaders of the local synagogue, who Saul had known for years. As Saul continued to deteriorate from exhaustion, they led him to a small secluded room and left him to rest. 

Saul remained sitting on the bed, hopeless. He had made it here and now didn’t know what was next. Was he to remain blind the rest of his life? Immediately, Saul saw a vision of a man, older than him, walk into the very room Saul was in. That man kneeled down, put his hands on Saul’s eyes and restore his sight. Jesus wasn’t finished yet. 

But Saul felt the weight of the darkness press in more and more. The depth of his guilt clung to him, whispered in his ears all that he had done. He was guilty of so much. The murder in his heart, the death his words brought. Saul thought he knew God, thought he acted on behalf of God. But he was wrong, so wrong. Saul didn’t know God, didn’t know the first thing about who Yahweh was. How could a great God like that allow someone like him to live? After all that he had done, motivated out of his own selfishness and anger?

Saul feel to his knees, tears covering his face. For so long, Saul thought of himself as righteous, as better than others who didn’t fervently serve Yahweh and held others to the standard of His law. But he had it all wrong. He had murder in his heart and death on his lips. He lived in darkness and long before he couldn’t see, he was blind. 

Saul began to sob harder, all strength leaving his body as he lay on the floor. The guilt of his sin began to come to the surface, it was as if all of his wrongs were piling onto the scales of the Lord’s judgement. Saul knew with full certainty he deserved death for his guilt. All the things he had did for the sake of what he thought was right. But it was really his own sin. Saul cried out, calling out Jesus’ name as he lamented over his decisions. 

“Forgive me,” he cried, “forgive me.”

Saul needed a savior.

With open, unseeing eyes, Saul looked up. “I need a savior!” he cried. “Jesus, I need you to save me, save me.”

It was as if Jesus stepped back into the room. The scales of the Lord’s judgement, those scales he knew were his, emptied. Innocent. Like a stamp on his forehead, Paul felt cleaned. Forgiven. Innocent. The scales evened out. 

Saul lay on the floor, unmoving. Was it really that easy? Was he really forgiven? He laid there in shock but feeling the weight and the darkness that was on him this whole time, lift off. And after what seemed like hours, Saul heard a knock on the door. Lacking the energy and strength to pull himself onto the bed, Saul remained on the floor. 

A pair of footsteps entered the room. There was just one person who had walked in. Why couldn’t everyone just leave him alone? But the voice who spoke was unfamiliar and gentle. “Saul? Are you Saul?” the man asked. The man came up and put his hand in Saul’s shoulder. 

Saul stayed silent, not sure of why this man was here. “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

At those words, almost as if a command, a mighty power entered into the room. Saul felt something like a rushing wind blow through him, as he felt power, incomprehensible power, enter into him. Starting in his heart, and spreading all the way to his hands and feet, Saul felt the presence spread through him. And something like fish scales that covered his eyes fell off. Saul touched his face, sure that something physically had been covering his eyes. But he felt nothing. 

And then Saul blinked. And blinked again as the world began to come into focus. In front of him was the man from his vision and around him was the very room that he saw. 

It was as if he was seeing for the first time, the world around him was alive in brilliant colors, sharper and clearer than he had ever seen before. And the light that came through the window behind him illuminated all that he was seeing. Saul could see, could really see. He saw and understood the grace which Jesus gave, that Jesus was the Light to this world, that through him, all things were created and existed and all things are held together in Him. 

And Saul saw his purpose. He saw what he must commit his life to. That there was no call greater than to follow Jesus. Saul excitedly turned to the man next to him. “I don’t even know who you are, but thank you. God showed me that you were coming to restore my sight,” 

The old man smiled. “The Lord has special plans for you, he has chosen to use you for great deeds.” The man acted as if he was going to stay more but stopped. “I will leave it at that.” 

Saul knew there was more that was revealed to this man about Saul, but he decided to leave it until it was the right time. 

“Come,” the man said, “Let’s take you to join your traveling companions. I think they would benefit from seeing that your sight has been restored.”

Saul thought of Simeon and Demetrius and Ananasis. Of his friends who carried him so far in his blindness. He had to tell them of what he found, of the good news of grace. The words burned inside of him, ready to burst and overflow. 

“Take me to the local synagogue, I need to tell more than just my friends this,” Saul replied. “I need to share to all who Jesus really is.”

The old man smiled, “You will go to far more places than just the local synagogues with that message.”

Saul felt that deep within him. Saul knew what he must do, he knew what was next. It was to preach this to as many as who would listen. And he knew where to start.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s