How God Rescues Us from the Wrong Road

Frank Santora

Updated Jun 07, 2024
How God Rescues Us from the Wrong Road

Saul was determined to arrest anyone who dared profess that Jesus was the promised, risen Messiah. Clearly, he was not a great target for street evangelism. In fact, there is no indication he would have even entertained a conversation about conversion to Christ. That is, until Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks. 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Have you ever found yourself traveling down the wrong road? 

Unfortunately, this happens to me a lot because I am as they say, directionally challenged. I can drive to the same location many times, and yet still forget how to get there, which means I am hopelessly bound to the GPS! Of course, if my wife is with me when I’m traveling, I don’t get lost as much because she is my helper in the car. She also tells me when the light changes colors, when I exceed the speed limit, and when cars are braking in front of me. I’m so thankful for her!

All joking aside, when it comes to driving, the truth is I do miss turns and have to take the long way around. I waste gas and time, get delayed and positively annoyed.

When it comes to our “life journey,” traveling down the wrong road is far more than just annoying; it can have real and detrimental consequences. More importantly, if we travel long enough on the wrong road, we can experience eternal, destructive consequences. 

The Path to Destruction

One of the things that makes the wrong road particularly deadly is even though we are good at seeing when other people are on the wrong road, and we even act as their “little helpers,” we are often blind to the fact that we ourselves are on the wrong road!

King Solomon, filled with the wisdom of God, wrote warnings in the Book of Proverbs about how our poor choices eventually lead us to destruction.  

“At the window of my house, I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent” (Proverbs 7:6-10).

For the young man, it was a dream come true. He was just walking down the street and a beautiful woman casually invites him home for a bit of romance. But Solomon knew that there was nothing good ahead for that young man; he was on a road that leads to destruction.

“With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life” (Proverbs 7:21-23).

When it comes to taking a wrong turn in the car, it’s just time lost. But when it comes to life, the price of going down the wrong road is usually so much more. It can result in a lost spouse, disaffected kids, ruined careers, anxiety, depression and financial distress. There is so much at stake when we are headed down the wrong road and don’t know it.

Taking the Wrong Road to Damascus

“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’” (Acts 9:1-4).

Saul of Tarsus was traveling down a very wrong road. He was a devout pharisee trying his best to serve God by tracking down, arresting and persecuting Christians. Later, when Saul was transformed into the Apostle Paul, he described himself, pre-conversion, as a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious (1 Timothy 1:13).

Saul’s behavior might be seen as that of a madman. But I think Saul would be better described as a religious zealot. 

He was a leading member of the Sanhedrin, a select group of 71 men who were appointed judges over religious matters. They took an oath to protect the orthodoxy of the Jewish law in anticipation of the promised coming Messiah. Saul was completely sold out.

According to accepted Jewish theology, a sign of God’s Messiah was that the Spirit of the Lord, or God’s blessing, would rest upon him. The scholars had concluded this Jesus of Nazareth could not be the promised Messiah because they deemed Him disqualified. They believed the law taught that anyone crucified on a tree is not blessed, but cursed by God. Therefore they argued Jesus could not be the Messiah. 

A crucified Savior made no sense to the Jewish mind, and it was heresy of the highest order, worthy of death. As Paul later wrote:

“…we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness…” (1 Corinthians 1:23).

Saul of Tarsus, not yet converted, travelled in good faith down this same wrong road toward Damascus, in order to capture, torture and kill those who spoke and taught such scandalous doctrine. As an appointed protector of the “true” Messianic message, he was filled with hatred and righteous indignation. He believed that everything the Christians said threatened his way of life. 

He was traveling down a very wrong road, yet he was convinced it was a very right road. It’s a common error for all of us. And when we are convinced that we are on the right road, it’s hard for anyone to help us.

We won’t listen because we think we know more, or that they are just old and out of touch, maybe even they are religiously brainwashed. We ignore clear truth, begin to reason in warped ways, and stumble headlong toward destruction – but we just can’t see it. 

Thankfully, even if loved ones have tried in vain to reach us and have given up hope, our faithful Father God will never give up! Remember, He is the One who will leave the ninety-nine sheep to pursue the one who was lost. He has the resources, wisdom, power and patience to rescue us from our wrong road. Just look at how God rescued Saul and set him on the right road toward his destiny – because He can do the same for us!

God Can Stop Us Dead in Our Tracks

Saul was determined to arrest anyone who dared profess that Jesus was the promised, risen Messiah. He even obtained official authority from the chief priests in Jerusalem to do just that. Clearly, he was not a great target for street evangelism. In fact, there is no indication he would have even entertained a conversation about conversion to Christ.

That is, until Jesus stopped him dead in his tracks. 

“And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’” (Acts 9:5-6).

God was not intimated by Saul’s anger, bravado, or threats. When we are on the wrong road, we may be able to run people off with our pushback, but God is not stopped. He is not afraid of our insults or behavior, or swayed by our intellectually absurd arguments that masquerade as enlightenment.

We can try to dodge God, but He still shows up on our doorsteps uninvited! He will stop us in our tracks, confront us in our sin, our hate, our confusion, despite our best defenses. Because of His great love, we just can’t drive Him away. As King David noted,

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there” (Psalm 139:7-8).

God knows how and where to reach us, to stop us from going any further. He desires to rescue us, so that we can get on the right road that leads to becoming what He has created us to be.

God Develops Us in Darkness

“Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:8-9).

Saul’s world had gone dark.

This is often the result of traveling down the wrong road; at first it looks bright, but then it suddenly goes dark. It initially looks promising, with a clear direction, but before long we somehow lose our way. We can no longer see a way forward, or even an escape to an earlier road. It can be very unsettling. Even scary. But be encouraged; God does some of His best work in the dark!

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

The devil does not own the dark. Yes, the devil can lead us off-course in an attempt to destroy us, but God redeems our bad decisions for good, and uses the life experience to develop His image in us (Romans 8:28).

As Saul of Tarsus arose from the ground, without his sight, God began developing the Apostle Paul in the darkness. God began to teach him how to walk by faith and not by sight, to trust insight rather than eyesight. 

Many times, the darkness of a situation we have created has blinded us from seeing any hope for the future. We can’t see our way out of financial disaster, marital breakdown, or disability. We can’t see any way back to a life of peace and joy. The darkness has surrounded us and blinded us to hope. But like Saul, it is often in our darkness where God develops us to walk by faith and experience our destiny.

He Changes Us by His Light

“…suddenly a light shone around him from heaven” (Acts 9:3).

The light of God surrounding Saul was so strong it put him on his knees and turned his world upside down. Jesus’ glorious light is so brilliant, John 1:1-5 says darkness could not overcome or extinguish it. And with this unexpected, abrupt confrontation, Saul’s entire life began to be transformed.

Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, and a pharisee. Concerning the law, zealous. But in one moment, everything Saul thought he knew and believed about himself was changed. The light of God had exposed the spiritual darkness in his heart: pride, malice, ambition, ignorance and wrong motives, and shed light on the truth of the Gospel message.

It only takes one encounter with Jesus on our own Damascus Road to revolutionize our lives. Like Saul, He stops us, develops character in darkness, and floods us with the light of His truth and power. In one moment, He can rescue us from being casual, fence-straddling Christians, to people willing to give up everything, pick up our own cross and follow Him. 

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Juan Camilo Bernal

Frank SantoraFrank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit Photo by Michele Roman.