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October 10, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.”—Galatians 1:17–20 (NIV)
If you examine the timeline of Paul’s ministry, you’ll notice something interesting that falls in line with the way God works in the hearts and lives of those He calls to accomplish His purposes.
So, here’s how it goes: Paul gets saved, does a little ministry, and almost immediately goes to Arabia for three years. What’s Arabia? It’s a barren wasteland in the Sinai Peninsula.
But here’s the thing: Paul wasn’t there to preach powerfully but to be pruned purposefully, to be shaped into a tool God would use mightily for the gospel.
In my study of Scripture, in my observation of friends and mentors, and in my own life, I’ve come to realize that God often gets extraordinary destinies out of difficult seasons in the wilderness. Sometimes God gives us a dream and then sends us off into the wilderness to prepare us for it.
It happened to Moses, who after escaping Egypt, wandered with the people of Israel for forty years in the same Sinai Peninsula Paul was sent to.
It happened to Joseph, who was given dreams, and then sold as a slave to Egypt before rising to prime minister of Egypt.
It happened to Elijah, who proclaimed drought to King Ahab, then was sent to the wasteland, part of the time in the exact place as Moses and Paul.
It happened to David, who was anointed king and then spent years living in the wilderness, running from King Saul.
It happened to Jesus, who was baptized and had the Spirit come upon Him before being sent to the wilderness for forty days.
God is preparing us so we can be trusted to steward the dream well. Can you avoid the wilderness? Sure, but then you’ll never be who were born to be. If you try to avoid the pain, you’ll never experience the gain. Why? Because if you don’t take the right route, you won’t be ready to handle the fruit.
God knows that what He has for you to give the world will be stunted if you’re first not broken and remolded. Like Jacob, each and every one of us must first learn to limp a little in order to rely fully on God and experience the fullness of His power, which is made perfect in our weakness. Like Paul and so many others, we must walk with the Lord through the desert. And, friends, I promise you the Lord has something amazing waiting for you on the other side of the desert.
DIG: Why did God send Paul to the desert for three years?
DISCOVER: What has God taught you in your wilderness seasons?
DO: Thank the Lord today for the wilderness, for the desert, and all the amazing work He does when you’re there! If you’re there now, ask the Lord to reveal what He wants to do in your heart.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.