A Tale of Two Sauls
How to find your destiny and follow it.
I want to tell you a story. And like all good stories, this one involves some donkeys. There was a really wealthy guy whose donkeys wandered off. So he says to his nephew, Saul, “Hey take a servant and go find my donkeys.”
After searching for a bit, Saul and the servant can't find the donkeys anywhere, so one of them has this genius idea; “let's go ask the prophet where the donkeys are.”
They head into town and the first guy they meet is the prophet Samuel. The first thing Samuel says is, "I'm the prophet, and the donkeys you are looking for have been found, now go up to the worship house, we'll eat and, in the morning, I'll tell you the secrets of your heart. P.S. the hope of all of Israel lies in you". (1 Samuel 9)
How's that for random? You are looking for the prophet, you "accidentally" find him and, not only does he invite you for dinner, but he gives you this incredible prophetic word: you are the chosen one to rescue Israel. Boom!
Now pay close attention to what happens when Saul returns home. His uncle is all, "Where have you been? Where are the donkeys? Is everything okay?" and Saul says this:
“We were looking for the donkeys, but we couldn’t find them. So we went to Samuel to ask him where they were.”
“Oh? And what did he say?” his uncle asked.
“He told us that the donkeys had already been found,” Saul replied. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom.” (1Samuel 10:14-16 NLT).
Wait, what now? Did you catch that part? Saul didn't tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom. I mean, no big deal, he just got the most amazing prophetic word of his life - the chosen one of Israel - and all he tells his uncle about is the donkeys?
What’s going on here?
I think at the root of this issue is a heart that doesn’t believe God. And that's a problem.
Some time later, Samuel calls all the people of Israel together so that he can announce who the King of Israel is going to be. On what should be the most incredible day of Saul's life, he is no where to be found. No one knows where he is, so the prophet asks God, "Where is Saul?" and the Lord replies, "Pssst, he's hiding. In the luggage." It's incredible! Despite this call, despite having the call confirmed before the whole nation, Saul is found hiding from his destiny.
"If you do not come into alignment with who God says you are, you will not reach your destiny."
Later in his life we read a very interesting thing. The Lord gave Saul a very clear instruction and yet Saul didn't do it. When the Lord confronts Saul, through the prophet Samuel, he says this: “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD has anointed you king of Israel.” (1Samuel 15:17 NLT)
Did you read that?
"Although you may think little of yourself."
Saul thought little of himself... he never embraced who God said he was. As a result he wasn’t thinking or acting like a leader. He wasn’t behaving like a king. The pattern of hiding from his destiny that began right at the start would later become his downfall. If you do not come into alignment with who God says you are, you will not reach your destiny. If you do not believe what God has said about you, every other person you meet will be a threat to your identity (as we see later when Saul meets David).
Again it’s not what you think - it’s what God thinks... and you have to align your thinking with him.
Saul of Tarsus
Let's switch gears for a second, and move over to the New Testament and read about another Saul. While our first Saul started out well and ended terribly, this Saul starts out terribly but ends well.
When we meet him in Acts 9, we read that he was eager to kill Christians and was uttering threats with every breath. Nice guy huh? He's on his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and most likely torture and kill them. While on the journey he falls to the ground, hit by a bright light from heaven, hearing the audible of voice of God. He is then struck blind.
After this incredible encounter, he continues on his way to Damascus, led by the hand by his traveling companions. Meanwhile, in another part of the city, a guy by the name of Ananias has a vision and the Lord speaks to him audibly: “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He’s praying to me right now. ” (Acts 9:11 NLT) Naturally Ananias isn't too excited about his new mission. The news of Saul has reached him and he converses with the Lord about this. “But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.” (Acts 9:15 NLT)
So the Lord gives Ananias this incredible prophetic word for Saul, that's he's going to use this terrorist as an instrument to expand the Kingdom of God to the rest of the world, to kings and to the nation of Israel. So Ananias does what the Lord says; off he goes and finds Saul, lays hands on him and, in accordance with the vision, the Lord restores Saul's sight.
How's that for an experience? You are struck to the ground, blinded by light, hear the audible voice of God and then someone comes and heals you (directed by God himself) and gives you an incredible prophetic word about standing before kings! Outrageous. But in contrast to the Saul we read about earlier, there is no hiding with this Saul. On the contrary, it says that Saul took the word of the Lord seriously "... immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” (Acts 9:20 NLT)
"Both Sauls had incredible destinies. Both Sauls had incredible encounters with God. Both Sauls were told who they were... but only one of them believed God."
Saul immediately fulfilled the word. Saul believed God. He believed God about his call and about his destiny. That belief changed Saul's identity. With a new identity came a new name. Saul became Paul and then went on to write major portions of the New Testament. And in his writing, it's very clear that Paul knew who God said he was and what he was called to. Simply read the opening line of many of his letters. Here's a few that illustrate what I am pointing at:
"This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News." (Romans 1:1 NLT)
"This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus." (1 Corinthians 1:1 NLT)
"This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead." (Galatians 1:1 NLT)
After reading his letters, you could ask, "Paul, why do you teach with such authority?" To which he would simply reply, "Because I have been sent."
Both Sauls had incredible destinies. Both Sauls had incredible encounters with God. Both Sauls were told who they were... but only one of them believed God.
Not believing who you are in God is very common - it’s alarming to hear you have a destiny. But read the scriptures and you'll find you are in the company of great men and women. Moses argued with God five times about his call, Sarai laughed upon hearing her contribution to world history, Gideon was alarmed that God called him a mighty warrior, Jeremiah, upon being told he was a prophet to the nations, responded that he was just a boy and didn't even know how to talk!
"If you don’t know who you are, you will rob people of the greatness [God's] put inside you"
Let me be clear: not believing the call of God on your life is common - but continuing to disbelieve God is sin. You are calling him a liar. You will not be who you are meant to be until you agree with God about who you are. In every transition of my life, as God reveals more of my destiny, I have worked hard to overcome this. It's not easy, and in the past it's taken years, more recently months and most recently days to agree with God. One day, the Lord said to me, "Alyn, if you don’t know who you are, you will rob people of the greatness I've put inside you."
Imagine the greatest songwriters of our time, thinking they couldn’t write songs. Consider the greatest authors of our time living in denial or the greatest film makers thinking, "Nobody would want to see my movies...". It would be an empty world if we were devoid of song, literature and the arts.
God does not have an identity crisis. Neither should we. The reason you have to come into your destiny is because you are not already in it. Yet that's a basic step that so many of us miss. Transitioning into your destiny always starts with agreement with God. Ask God who you are and what you're called to. It's not enough that we know, we have to believe.
So here's some next steps:
1. Still yourself. Quiet yourself down.
2. Review your prophetic words.
3. Ask God, “What is my destiny?”
4. Think, speak and behave accordingly.
5. Arrest all contrary thoughts.
Seriously, don't delay. Set aside some time this week and be with God. Grab your journal and still yourself. Peace is the potting soil of revelation. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we've lost the art of stillness.
Secondly, go study the prophecies you have been given. It's important that you see your life as God sees it. Go dig them out, write them out, read them, pray them back to God. If you don't have any prophetic words, ask God for some.
While you're at it, ask God a very deliberate question, "What is my destiny? What have you called me to?" He loves to answer questions like that! Remind yourself that it's his good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
"Believing what God says about you is the first and last step to identity in God."
The fourth step is the hardest. You have to believe it. You have to live as though it's true. You have to train yourself to think, behave and act like someone who lives in your destiny. You have to get comfortable living at the level of your calling. Believing what God says about you is the first and last step to identity in God.
And then lastly, you really do have to arrest any thoughts that are contrary to your destiny. I can't afford to have any thoughts about myself that aren't God's thoughts. God doesn't have negative thoughts towards you. So if you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself, stop it.
Your destiny and your life is too exciting not to live well. Align yourself with God, let him excite you about what's to come and believe him. Both Sauls would agree with me.
To read this article and others by Alyn Jones, check out his blog: alynandaj.com