"Saul, is that you? my father inquired, opening the door and seeing me wearing a plain brown tunic and sandals.
"Don't you recognize me?"
"Well, no--I mean, yes. You look different. Come in."
Mother came up and hugged me warmly, and then pulled away to study the face of a son she hardly recognized. I was no longer the boy who left Tarsus in his early twenties, but now a man forty years old with a beard. My letters as a young Pharisee in Jerusalem, once filled with news of achievements, had become less frequent in recent months.
"What have you been doing?" my father said, interrupting my mother's tender welcome.
I loved my parents and knew they lived each day trying to keep the Law the best they could. My father had taught me from the Scriptures, and in synagogue school I studied the words of Moses and the prophets in Greek. He later sent me to Jerusalem to drink in Judaism at its source and try to insulate me against pagan cults. I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my people. I was a Hebrew of Hebrews.
But I was no longer a Pharisee. This won't be easy, Lord, I prayed silently. Give me the right words to say to them.
"I know I haven't written much," I confessed, trying to gain their understanding.
"We heard that you went to Damascus," Father broke in. "Tell us about it."
"Yes, I met the living Messiah."
"Living, you say? You talked to him?"
"And he talked to me, but there is much more."
"You're telling us it actually happened? I don't believe it. I can't believe it. You had a dream, that's all." Father paced the floor, waving his arms in frustration.
"My son, listen to me," he went on. "The Messiah has not come yet." He finally slumped in his favorite chair like a tired old general beaten on the battlefield. "You can't know how disappointed I am. You have ruined your career."
I tried to show reason and respect. "I believe Jesus the Nazarene is the one who was to come and has fulfilled the Law," I said. "My mission is to carry this message to both Jews and Gentiles."
"What are you saying?" Father said.
"This is what God wants for me. I will no longer dress as a Pharisee."
"You disgrace us!"
Mother cried and turned away.
"I only ask that you listen to me," I said, doing my best to be a good son.
They couldn't listen, at first. There were difficult days of shouting and then silence. But to my surprise, my parents eventually seemed resigned to the fact that I was no longer a Pharisee but a believer in Christ, the Messiah.
I wandered the streets of Tarsus, praying to the Lord. I think it's best that I don't flaunt my new life. I will tell people about you but also respect the ways of my family and friends. To the Jews I will be like a Jew. To win Gentiles, I will be like them.