then i went into the regions of syria and cilicia. and i was still unknown in person to the churches of judea that are in Christ. they only were hearing it said, “he who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” [galatians 1:21-23]
first, paul experienced a life before Jesus. then, paul, and the two other men with him, encountered God on their way to damascus. from an encounter with God, paul then was able to deny himself and plead the case of Christ- a tenacious process. paul had to know that there would be people against him. paul had to know his new life would contradict his old life. paul had to know his life would be on the line. however, the suffering he would face could not come close to the joy and peace that comes from the Lord. Jesus followed this pattern as well. the last night of Jesus’s life when he was in the garden of gethsemane, he knew what he would experience the following day. despite what was to come, he made a point to interact with his, and our, Father. he knew judas would betray him. he knew he would be arrested. he knew he was to be crucified. yet, he goes through with it because he knows that God is in control and that his suffering would further God’s kingdom.
paul’s testimony is proof that God is in control. the God that transformed paul is the same God that lives in us. we do not have to have an interaction with God like paul to know that he is there for us. we do not have to persecute people like paul to know God’s grace is beyond our comprehension. we do not have to evangelize exactly how paul did. what we do know is: God gives us experiences so that we may interact with him, lean on him, call to him, acknowledge his provision and be in his presence. interactions with God fuel us to live for him no matter what trials come!
and he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. he said, “in a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘give me justice against my adversary.’ for a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘though i neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, i will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’ and the Lord said, “hear what the unrighteous judge says. and will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? will he delay long over them? i tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. nevertheless, when the son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” [luke 18:1-8]
~ angela younger