Paul was testifying to King Agrippa when he makes this statement, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” in Acts 26:19. In my finite mind I think Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit could have just said, ‘I was obedient to the heavenly vision’ and the King would have got the basic idea. But, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, so those seemingly redundant negatives meant something. I believe he was communicating that he had a choice in the matter. Not just the sovereignty of God compelling him to fulfill his divine purpose and calling, thrusting him forward contrary to his will!
No, he had to exercise his will to stay obedient to the heavenly vision.
This passionate, relentless, untiring mover and shaker probably would have been a world-renowned tent maker in his time, as he stated several times in the epistles to do whatever you do (heartily) as unto the Lord. Most likely he could have developed an international tent making company, with the latest designs and modifications, fabrics and quality and become a wealthy, successful entrepreneur. If he had devoted most of his passion and focus on tent making, rather than his calling…or being obedient to the heavenly vision. What if he had developed a speaking itinerary on ‘How Yahweh blessed and promoted me in business’ on the side? Like a hobby as opposed to a calling.
If he had we most likely wouldn’t have had approximately half of the New Testament, to which I refer to as my traveling companion. Paul’s epistles I mean.
A few times we see Paul’s conversion detailed in the book of Acts, twice from his own lips. I’m positive he must have recounted this over and over in his preaching and testimonies to the multitudes he shared with. I dare say his own recounting keep the vision before him. His initial encounter with Jesus was confirmed by a disciple, Ananias by name who possibly gave him further instructions not recorded before. The three people groups Paul would be assigned to: the Gentiles, a people group he most likely avoided as a Jew; kings, not your average assignment; and the children of Israel, his own people group with whom he had no small contention with as a Jew and as a Christian.
This was counter intuitive, counter cultural, habit, lifestyle, dietary and possibly personality wise depending on your view of environment vs. heredity. This was a serious assignment, the heavenly vision, or vision dwelling in heaven as one translation puts it. Against the grain of who he was! Every reason to run, hide and just live the status quo…two kids, house with a white picket fence, possibly early retirement from all his successful endeavors. Be a good Christian and not rock the boat or step out of the boat. I could go on and on.
Instead he was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision’ and his Holy Spirit inspired works, walk and adventures continue to influence multitudes today. How about you? Do you have a hold of the heavenly vision God has for you? Or is it still dwelling in heaven with your name and resources and challenges and faith opportunities and people groups waiting for you. Or does it not seem to be tailored to your specific desires so you are waiting for the right fit?
Wouldn’t you rather say with Paul, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision?