Acts 7 describes the death of Stephen at the hands of the religious leaders of Jerusalem.  The entire chapter is taken up with the his powerful testimony of Christ as laid out before his listeners, a testimony that enraged them, and brought about his death by stoning.  Chapter 8 begins with what seems an afterthought; "Saul was one of the official witnesses of the killing of Stephen."  Saul, who after his encounter with the risen Christ on the Damascus Road, was to become the apostle Paul, the apostle of the heart as he is called by many.  Yet, there he was, an official witness, meaning he gave full approval to the murder.  Yet, something in the manner of Stephen's death had to have deeply impacted him.  Stephen, as I like to think of it, "died alive," in that they were able to kill his body, but they couldn't kill him, or the life of Christ within Him.  Paul beheld this, and though he was to redouble his efforts to stamp out the followers of Christ, he couldn't get away from what he'd witnessed, a witness of a whole other sort than what the enemy intended.  On the Damascus Road, the witness would bear life for Paul, just as such a witness can well come to bear life for you, as it most certainly did for me.
     I remember so clearly the first time I was confronted with such a witness.  I had been away from the small college I attended in northwest Pennsylvania for more than a year.  When I returned, I came across a young girl I had spent much time with, partying, getting high, or "wasted" as we called it.  Yet, before she even spoke, I knew something was different.  I saw it in her eyes.  Before, her eyes were like mine still were, dead eyes.  Yet, that was no more.  I saw in her eyes a life I couldn't account for, but knew was real.  It made an impression I couldn't get away from, and though I know she spoke to me about what had happened in her coming to know Christ, I really don't remember anything she said, but I can still see, as I continued to see, the overflowing life showing forth in those eyes.  It would be five more long years of spiritual captivity before I had encountered Him on my own Damascus Road, but the journey began by looking into those eyes, by my seeing, though I didn't understand it at the time, Christ in her eyes.
    Some years later I encountered another lady, one who professed to follow Him, yet, in her words, her actions, and yes, her eyes, I didn't see what I had seen before.  Her eyes, her spirit, seemed to be as lifeless as mine.  She spoke to me of Christ as well, but her words didn't seem to be accompanied by any real life.  I don't say that in judgement, it's just what I remember.  It's very sobering to think what kind of memory might my words and life leave upon those I encounter in my day to day interactions.  When I come across those who can only see things through dead eyes, do mine look the same to them as theirs do to me?  Do yours?
    In John 4, in the story of the woman at the well, after her encounter with Christ, the woman ran into the town and exclaimed to all, "Come meet a Man who told me everything I ever did!"  They came.  Do you think it might have been because they, like Paul did in Stephen, like I did with my college friend, saw in her eyes, life, and not the death that once reigned there, and still did in them?  They came and heard and saw Him for themselves, but not merely because of what she said, but I believe, because of what they saw in her, in her eyes.  Dead eyes no more, but eyes of light and life.  May I, we, walk, talk, and live with such eyes.  May those who encounter us, encounter Christ in us.  Today, what will they see.......in our eyes?

Blessings,
Pastor O
    
 
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