A Non-Stick Musing
New Revised Standard Version
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men, or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drank.
Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
The story above is familiar to many of you. Even non-believers are familiar with the general facts surrounding this story of the conversion of Paul.
Paul is seeking to persecute followers of Jesus. (Persecute is a polite church term for arrest, jail, torture, and even kill.) On his way to do this in Damascus he is struck blind, has an encounter with Jesus, and soon thereafter become one of the single greatest apostles for the church of Jesus Christ ever.
What is fascinating to me is Paul was on his way to do one very particular thing. He had a clear goal and objectives that is before he was made blind.
Now I know the text said he heard instructions from Jesus but let’s really think about this situation Paul was in. It had to be frightening.
Wouldn’t the wise and prudent thing to do be to choose a wiser course of action?
Like heading home to the comfort of friends, family, and the temple where a ritualistic cleaning and proper sacrifice would restore him.
What Paul might have concluded was he was having a mental breakdown full of hallucinations or perhaps the invasion of a demon was instead met with hope and faith and a change of plans.
On April 6, 1932, at DuPont’s Jackson Laboratory in Deepwater, New Jersey, Roy J. Plunkett set to work on his first assignment with the company — working with refrigerator gasses. One of those gasses was Freon, extensively used in refrigerators. Plunkett and his assistant Jack Rebok were testing the gas under various conditions when they made a mistake in their procedures. Consequently, when they opened a cylinder of the gas, it did not discharge as they expected. They set that cylinder aside, and, according to most accounts, intended to discard it with other trash.
Later however, Plunkett thought to himself that the cylinder seemed much heavier than it should be. He wondered what had happened and if it would explode. Ignoring caution and taking a chance, he opened it — and discovered a solid white substance inside. What could it be?
The more Plunkett evaluated the substance, the more surprised he was by its properties. It didn’t react with other chemicals. It retained its properties whether subjected to 500 degrees below zero or 400 above. Vacuum had no effect — which meant it would be perfect, he realized, for use in an outer–space environment. It also refused to stick to anything. It was polytetrafluorethylene (PTEE) — which you and I have come to know as Teflon. Since its discovery, over two–and–a–half billion pounds of it have been sold. It’s been used to keep the Statue of Liberty from rusting, in cardiac medicine to coat electrical wires, in light bulbs and, of course, in pots and pans because of its no–stick qualities.
Plunkett later admitted he had been lucky — the stuff could have exploded with disastrous effect. But while looking for one thing, he had discovered something else — something much better—just like the apostle Paul.
Friends, people have found Jesus by a similar means. While looking for one thing they discovered something far greater – the transformational love of God as exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth.
We too can continue to find the joy, happiness, peace, forgiveness, contentment, and love simply by looking for Jesus even in unexpected places and opportunities. In doing so we will also receive the rest and restoration promised if we only remember to look for it and move towards it in faith even if it takes us on a different journey than we planned.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Hope all are well. Please stay safe in this heat!