“suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him:
and he fell to the ground …” Acts 9:3b,4a
“Normal sinus rhythm.”
These words have a nice ring to them, especially if you are a physician or nurse. They mean the heart is beating at a normal rate and rhythm, and they could mean that your patient who a few minutes ago was close to death is now going to live.
Every third year medical student knows what a “code” is, what it means when the paddles of a defibrillator are placed on the chest of a moribund patient, and what the words “all clear!” mean just before the electrical jolt is administered. (Probably every regular viewer of medical shows on TV is familiar with the situation as well.) The patient is usually in an abnormal heart rhythm which is not compatible with life. The paddles deliver a calculated dosage of electrical current, the patient jumps with the applied voltage, and the heart is shocked, hopefully, into normal sinus rhythm. Cardioversion (cardiac conversion) has occurred. The heart has been converted to normal rhythm and the patient will live.
You and I need spiritual cardioversion. Our hearts are not beating normally; we are naturally out of sync with God, and we have an abnormal rhythm to our inner beings and lives. We need for our hearts to be converted, to beat in unison with the heart of God, and then we will be happy; then we will really live. This is what we were made for.
The apostle Paul experienced cardioversion in Acts 9. He had no idea he needed it; in fact, he thought he was fine with God, and was even doing God a favor by persecuting Christians. Paul was proud and arrogant; he was religious, dutiful, and performance- oriented. He was brilliant and well educated. He thought he was serving God. He was even sincere and well intentioned. He thought he was OK. But, he did not realize that he had a major problem: his heart was not beating in unison with that of God, and was not in normal sinus rhythm. He had an abnormal rhythm (dysrhythmia) that would kill him and he did not even realize it. Many patients with dysrhythmias have no idea of their desperate need because they are comatose. Paul was in a spiritual coma, as all of us are. He was blind to his own need, and did not realize either his need or his blindness.
God converted Paul in dramatic fashion. God defibrillated Paul, and he fell to the ground with the shock. Jesus, who appeared to him here, told him that it was hard to “kick against the goads.” Goads were sharp instruments or sticks used to keep livestock in check. When they refused to obey their keeper’s bidding, the goad was applied to get their attention; it hurt, but the more obstinate animals kept kicking against the sharp objects anyway in an effort to get their way. Jesus is asking Paul here, “aren’t you tired of beating your head against the wall? Doesn’t it hurt? Isn’t it futile?” The point here is that despite all of Paul’s learning, zeal, religiosity, and sincerity, his heart was .not beating with God’s heart, the benchmark of all normal hearts in the universe. And, because of this, Paul was miserable and self-destructing, eventually to the point of spiritual death.
When God converted Paul, he had a sudden, remarkable change. He was truly alive for the first time in his life. He asked what Jesus wanted him to do, and he obeyed. His life changed and he became a man of love, freedom, humility, gentleness, and joy. He no longer trusted in his own efforts to try to win God’s favor, but trusted in the free gift of God given through Jesus Christ to give him life. His motivation changed: he no longer tried to impress God, but now his desire for God and his delight in God resulted in his wanting to carry out what delighted God. His changed heart resulted in freely offered obedience because he wanted to obey. His heart now was beating in normal sinus rhythm. He was alive.
How about you? Do you need divine defibrillation? Do you realize that without Jesus, you are in a spiritual coma and barely alive? Without Jesus to convert our hearts, we will die. This is urgent, and it is an emergency.
God will convert your fatal heart rhythm into a normal one as defined by him. He will change you and give you life. Your conversion may not be as dramatic as Paul’s; most are not But, God will change us if we ask him to, and when this occurs, we will find our hearts beating normally for the first time in our lives. God always receives us as we run to him for healing in Jesus, and he will never turn us away. If God converts you, you will find you are alive, and that the joy, love, security, peace of mind and freedom you experience in Jesus Christ will amaze you. Your desires, delights, and motivations will change, and the result will be a new you.
Normal sinus rhythm. It has a nice sound.
See “The Ultimate Solution” for an explanation of how to ask God to change you.