Sunday, March 17, 2019

arabia

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1:15-17)

So after Paul had his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he went immediately into Arabia.  What’s up with that?  You would think that he would hit the streets, telling anyone and everyone about the incredible encounter he’d just had with the Living Christ.  But that’s not what he did at all.  Instead, he went immediately into Arabia.  An interesting move to say the least.  After all, what was in Arabia?  The answer—absolutely nothing.  That was the whole point.  He went into the desert, the wilderness, which is exactly what the name Arabia really means.  He went into a place where it was just him and God.  He went into a place where the encounter he’d just had with Jesus could continue to grow and to blossom into all that it was intended to be.  He went into the silence and solitude of the desert to reflect and to prepare and to pray and to listen and to prepare.

You see, the first movement of the spiritual life must always be toward Jesus.  And Arabia is where that takes place.  Arabia is not merely a physical space—although that is definitely part of it—it is a space where we come face to face with Jesus over time.  It is the place where he can get his hands on us and strip us bare of all that is not him in order to make us into all that he desires us to be.  The solitude of Arabia is where we are transformed, equipped, and empowered to be all that God intended us to be and in order to do all that God called us to do.  The doing can’t properly or powerfully take place without the being.  Yes, Paul would go on and preach to the Gentiles, but not before he met Jesus in the extended solitude of Arabia.

The problem is that most of us, unlike Paul, are simply not willing to go there.  But going into Arabia is not a luxury, it is a necessity.  If we ever desire to have ministries that are fruitful and authentic and empowered, we must first spend time in Arabia.  Otherwise, the fullness of what God desires to do in and then through us will never happen.  For if we refuse to go there, our lives and our ministries will always be far less that what God desires them to be.  So let us follow Paul’s example and let the first movement of our lives always be toward Jesus—into Arabia.  It will make all the difference in the world.

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