My friend recently reminded me of Paul’s conversion on the Road to Damascus. But it was how she posed a question that made me return to dwell on Paul’s experience once again. She asked this: “ If it took Paul three years to deal with forgiving himself then why should I think I am any different?”
I’m sure that you’ve heard the story of my earlier life when I lived in the Jewish way. In those days I went all out in persecuting God’s church. I was systematically destroying it. I was so enthusiastic about the traditions of my ancestors that I advanced head and shoulders above my peers in my career. Even then God had designs on me. Why, when I was still in my mother’s womb he chose and called me out of sheer generosity! Now he has intervened and revealed his Son to me so that I might joyfully tell non-Jews about him.
Immediately after my calling—without consulting anyone around me and without going up to Jerusalem to confer with those who were apostles long before I was—I got away to Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus, but it was three years before I went up to Jerusalem to compare stories with Peter. I was there only fifteen days—but what days they were! Except for our Master’s brother James, I saw no other apostles. (I’m telling you the absolute truth in this.) Galatians 1:13-20 MSG*
What struck my friend was that after this traumatic and life altering event of being struck blind and having Christ call him out, Paul took three years to get his act together before going onto Jerusalem to meet with Peter.
Three years to forgive himself. Three years to begin the process of loving himself through God’s eyes. Three years to learn. Three years to prepare. Three years to consult with God, not man. Three years.
Have you been through a life-altering event – a trauma – a time when Jesus called you out? If so, it may be that you need to learn to forgive yourself and learn to see yourself through God’s eyes. It may be that you need to take time to learn what God has for you in this new season – to take time to learn to rely on Him and not on human counsel. It may be that you need to sit in His Word in order to understand the need to sit in His Presence.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV