May 6, 2006

Conversion and Clarity

Sometimes we have the idea that conversion implies clarity. When we see someone who, because they have discerned a call from God, changes their mind on purpose and commits themselves to a new course of action, we imagine that they are able to do so because they are sure of what they are doing.

We wonder where they get the strength and conviction to risk the commitment, and we figure that they have deliberated within themselves and are secure and convinced of what they are doing. We guess that they have access to a level of clarity which is, unfortunately, denied to us.

Yesterday we read the account of the conversion of Saul from the Acts of the Apostles, and it shows that the opposite is the case. The immediate effect of God's intervention in Saul's life is that he goes blind. After this converting event, he has to be led by the hand. He doesn't recover his sight until he received the care and ministry of another disciple, Ananais.

Saul's conversion put him in a place where he lost his clarity, and it was a while before he recovered it and re-emerged as Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.

The genuine experience of God that will lead to conversion if we allow it does not necessarily produce clarity. It may rob us of the clarity we thought we had and lead us to doubts that are more agonizing than the ones we had before.

If conversion gave us clarity, there would be no risk and vulnerability. And without these there can be no true love. The leap of faith is a leap into vulnerability. It is just this kind of risky love. The light of God is so bright that our little hearts and minds experience it as darkness. To believe it is light nonetheless is the un-clarity of faith. To accept it in love is to be converted.

p.s. Special thanks to SFO mom for giving us a link on her site!

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