“Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem…” – Galatians 1:17-18a
I learn the best theology in recovery meetings. Something about sitting in a circle and sharing my soul leads to receiving God’s truths in a profound way. I communicate with God primarily through Bible study with others and through writing. He also allows me to communicate with Him in circles. Intimate discussions with other men in those meetings allow me to directly witness His work in my life and the lives of others.
A brother shared something about Paul that I didn’t know. More accurately, I never bothered to investigate. In Galatians, Paul reviewed the beginning of his ministry. He reminded everyone that his ministry didn’t begin instantaneously. He spent three years in Arabia, allowing God to make him ready for the work God had for him. It was another thirteen (more or less) years before Paul made his first missionary journey.
God’s revelation to Paul on the road to Damascus was life changing. That experience began his ministry and reshaped the church and the spread of the Gospel message. Paul didn’t instantly began spreading the Gospel all over the known world. He allowed God to prepare him for the work to come.
Most of my life, I couldn’t understand why God didn’t instantly heal me from the sex and relationship addictions dominating my life. Why couldn’t I touch His robe or dip into the river or experience a “Damascus road” transformation? I believed that was the only healing God did…instant healing.
Paul’s story reminded me again of my lack of understanding of how God works. He can heal instantly. He chooses in me to prepare in His time, not mine. Paul learned something I am learning now. He learned to operate on God’s timing and urging, not his own.
Paul could have sought out Peter and James and the other disciples and leaders of the church at the time to jump start what he believed God had for him. He didn’t do that. He spent three years in Arabia. He didn’t consult others for direction. He first looked to God’s instruction and guidance. He trusted God to lead him.
I identify strategic planning as one of my greatest strengths. Throughout most of my adult life, I haven’t felt at ease unless I have a long term plan and am taking action to reach some goal or another. My goals. Not God’s. Mine. To be rigorously honest, I didn’t feel at ease. I felt uneasy and believed that was because I hadn’t reached my goal yet.
God has revealed to me my uneasiness didn’t come from a lack of achievement of personal goals. It came from seeking my own goals. My plan. Not His. Mine. Paul reminded me to follow God’s plan in God’s timing to achieve God’s goals for my life. My ministry. My ministry springs from His plan and in His timing.
Recognizing my life depends solely on His direction results in something I haven’t ever known before. I experience peace. I am not comfortable with peace yet. I am learning peace in His timing.