I love the story of Saul in Acts 9 when he is on the road to Damascus. We think we know the story but how well do we know it? It is very challenging and disturbing.
Saul becomes aware of the divine presence. A light from heaven flashed around him, he heard a voice (the Voice). He is blind for three days, a symbolic representation of his death to his old self as the Bible calls it (Ephesians 4:22). Some Christian psychologists call this a false self. We are to replace it/God replaces it with our new self (Ephesians 4:24). We could call this our true self.
What happened to Saul in those three days? He began the day in certainty. He had power and control – in his hand he had a letter from the high priest that gave him the authority to arrest Christians? (By the way was he right to do this?)
He began the day with security and with his survival assured: he was on the side of those with power. He began the day with the esteem and affection of his religious friends.
Our false self is like a submerged triangular iceberg with three points: our desires for power and control, for security and survival, for esteem and affection. At any one time, one of these points will be the most visible one sticking above the surface of our life (icebergs are mostly below the surface).
During those three days of blindness Saul sees these three certainties of his false self crumbling. He will no longer have power and control as a new untrusted follower of Jesus. He will no longer enjoy the esteem and affection that used to be his. His security and survival is under threat (there is a plot to kill him within days).
Of course each of us try to ensure that we protect these three needs, but this is an impossible task, and one that takes up most of our energy. What we need to do is let go of trying to ensure these three things, and instead put our trust in the Voice. He is the new centre, and we are not.
It is not surprising that many people say conversions like Saul’s just don’t happen any more. The truth is they need to but we avoid this true conversion, dying to our old self and rising to our new self; letting go our false self and embracing our true self.
Can you become aware of this false self, and how you protect these needs?