Paul had an amazing conversion experience in which Jesus Christ personally came to Paul, telling him He is in fact the very Son of God. Paul wasn’t seeking out Jesus. In fact, Paul was seeking to murder anyone who followed Jesus. In his mind, and as far as his extensive study persuaded him, Jesus was not the promised Savior…this was one thing Paul was convinced of.
On his journey to persecute other Christians for believing in Christ, Christ Himself shows up to Paul and tells him who He is. Paul puts his faith in Christ, is saved, and then gets put on a mission to preach the message of Christ. Amazing.
But first, before he writes all those awesome letters we read in our Bibles, he goes to Arabia for 3 years.
We don’t know what he did there. We can only speculate. But in my humble opinion, I think he went there to rest in Jesus. To learn about Him. To make sense of everything. To study and pray and seek and think. To discover who he is in Christ. To renew his mind and be transformed from Christian-hater-persecutor, to Jesus-lover-preacher. And I think he needed a desert experience to do this. Paul, alone in the desert with God, spending a very long time figuring things out.
I think that this desert experience was extremely valuable for Paul. I think it must have been painful at times as he probably spent hours in anguish reliving his persecution of Christians. Hours replaying God’s appearance to him on that road. Hours thinking about what God’s purpose was for him and how he was going to accomplish it.
But I imagine that during this time he rested in Jesus and communed with Him, learning so much about the One who he used to despise. This desert experience was probably a time of pain and anxiety yet also a time of joy and discovery.
I only speculate on the above, but if this happened the way I think it did, I truly feel like I am in my own “desert experience”.
After I experienced my own dramatic encounter with Jesus, I was never the same. My life drastically changed and I spent the next 3 years studying at a Bible college, working at Christian camps, and getting married. I don’t think I could have added any more change. It makes my head spin just to think of it all.
It all happened so fast, I never really got to slow down and take it all in. I never got the chance to sit and breathe. But I definitely am getting that now. Getting it more than I ever would have asked for.
I’m waiting for my green card to arrive, waiting to see if we’re going to make a big move, waiting to discover God’s will for us. It’s been almost 3 months now, and I’m not sure I like waiting.
However, no matter how much or how little I like this desert experience, I am gaining so much.
I actually almost feel like I’m starting my walk with God from scratch. I’m not sure if that sounds bad or not, but I am learning things about myself and about God faster than I know what to do with.
But, because I’ve slowed down and allowed God to minister to me as I wait, I’m processing my past in a way that I have never been able to do before.
I’m working through things I didn’t know I needed to work through.
I’m discovering who God is in a way I never have before.
And truly, I can say…in my weakness He is strong. I believe that in the darkest times you can experience a great deal of hope and joy.
He has purpose in my desert experience. He is teaching me things I should have learnt a long time ago, just didn’t have the time to learn them.
God has pressed the “pause” button on my life to slow me down and teach me who He is and who I am in Him.
I have joy in knowing that the lessons He is teaching me now will be more valuable than anything I’ve had to give up in this time. I may not feel that way right now, but I know it to be true.
So in this desert experience I have hope in the pain. I have joy in the waiting. I know there is purpose in it.
If God could do with Paul what He did after his desert experience, He most certainly can bring purpose out of my desert experience. Not like I’m comparing myself to Paul or anything.
If you’re waiting and it’s painful beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before, just try to see it as something God is allowing to teach you more about Him.
I haven’t got to the end of my desert experience yet, so I can’t tell you how it all turned out, but our God is so good and so loving that I know that even in these desert times, He holds my hand.