Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle
and set apart for the gospel of God
Now look back to Acts 8:1: And Saul was there giving approval to his death. Stephen had just been stoned to death. Acts 8:3 says, But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. At this point who would have ever imagined Roman 1:1 would ever be a thing. Paul, then known as Saul was anything but a follower of Christ. Now listen to his testimony:
For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 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…
Do you see what made the difference? God set Paul apart from birth and then called him by His grace and revealed Jesus to him. Saul wasn’t looking for Jesus. Saul wasn’t seeking God. He was opposing God. God then used Paul’s zealousness to accomplish the plan he had for Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Would we think of such a plan? Probably not. But God sometimes uses the most unlikely people to fulfill His plans. Think of your prodigal(s). Do you believe God can take them from the life they now live and transform them to a life lived for Him? It’s not over yet! Paul became as passionate about serving Christ as he had been about opposing Him years earlier.
I take great comfort in knowing that although I didn’t totally walk away from my faith, I didn’t really know God until I was in my mid-forties. I knew a lot about Him, but a relationship? No, I didn’t. Now I serve and worship from a place of love and gratitude. But it didn’t happen until God revealed His love to me. Why did it take until I was in my mid-forties? I don’t really know, but I can’t get hung up on it. If ever God wants me to know, He will tell me. I’m just grateful He did. I once tried to explain this to Nathan and encouraged Him not to give up on God revealing Himself, but at that time he couldn’t accept this as a reason. I pray someday he will know. Even if it takes awhile.
I read an analogy that I think is worth sharing. God gave this picture to Elaine Tavolacci to share with her readers.
Two distinct seeds were planted in the same field and at the same time. The first seed was a cherry blossom tree seed and the other was a sequoia tree seed. Each seed had the same care as they were both provided the same sunlight and water. The cherry blossom tree grew quickly and flourished beautifully with brilliant pink flowers and bright green leaves, but the seed of the sequoia tree seemed to be taking a long time to show any signs of growth.
As time went on, the cherry blossom tree continued to grow and flourish but the sequoia tree seed didn’t appear as if it was going to amount to anything. After some time the sequoia tree began to grow, towering over the cherry blossom tree and multiplied in size, surpassing the cherry blossom tree in height, width and overall proportion.
The reason why the sequoia tree took longer to grow was because it required stronger and deeper roots to support its tremendous size. Neither tree was insignificant, for each one served their purpose.
This was written in relation to prophetic words we have been given and why some take longer to come to pass as others but as I was writing this devotion, I felt like this was a good analogy for our prodigals as well. For whatever reason, it is taking longer for our children to return than we have hoped. We know we are in it for the duration…as long as it takes! But still we want a cherry blossom return as opposed to a sequoia return. But imagine the return it will be and what plans God has purposed for them that require what they are going through now. Consider the ministry they may someday have because of what they have gone through now. The people they may reach that someone who has never walked away would be able to reach. And always, always remember, it’s not over yet! The Lord isn’t finished yet!