I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I'm saved and secure. I'm on my way to heaven someday. But I still live here, and I know that my purpose is to glorify Jesus Christ in all of the life that I have left. But how?
A common plight Christians suffer is this wrestling between getting ready to do something, and doing it now.
When I surrendered to God's calling on my life to ministry, I wrestled— do I spend some years in school, doing little and learning much, or do I get involved, doing much but perhaps learning little?
I've heard both sides. You probably have too, and it's confusing, isn't it?
Paul is, perhaps, one of the greatest demonstrators of this struggle and of how to blend the two options in a life lived for God's glory and purpose.
I'm not prone to using alliteration in my writing or teaching, but these three P's came to my mind as I read Acts 9. Here's what Paul's example inspires us to do.
Once I know my purpose ...
1. I Need to Receive Passively
Paul was blind and a bit helpless. God sent a messenger in the form of Ananias to tell Paul his purpose for his life. His purpose was threefold:
- To bear God's name before the Gentiles (including dignitaries).
- To reach the children of Israel.
- To suffer—a lot.
So God gave Paul purpose. He also gave him a healing and the physical strength he would need, as well as the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
These were God's gifts, and Paul needed to submissively and passively receive them.
2. I Need to Obey Promptly
Watch the word... "And straightway (immediately) he preached Christ" (Acts 9:20, KJV). There is no hesitation to do God's will. Here's an important life principle: Once you know what God's will is for your life, the proper time to begin doing that will is right now.
Why wait? What good reason is there?
Delay is disobedience, unless God's will includes not only an instruction, but also the preparation for the fulfillment of that instruction.
3. I Need to Patiently Prepare
Verse 22 starts out, "But Saul increased (grew) the more ..." and verse 23 says "And after that many days were fulfilled ..."
Though we aren't certain, it's probable that these verses represent a chronological gap in the story of Paul. What was he doing during that gap? Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians,
But when it pleased God, who set me apart since I was in my mother's womb and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the nations, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me. But I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
After three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter and stayed with him for fifteen days (Gal. 1:15-18, MEV).
This is a tough one. Paul preached immediately, then obeyed the calling of the Holy Spirit into the Arabian desert to learn directly from Him about how Christ was the story of the Old Testament.
Paul knew his purpose, and it was specific: to present and argue for the claims of Christ. So God educated him for it.
I've seen and experienced personally the tragedy of impatience in preparation. We justify our haste with the idea that we could die soon or Jesus could come again. But if that happens while we're in the center of God's will preparing, what better place to be?
Take action, but take time. God is just as concerned with growing His messengers than He is with getting the message out. This is where it's so necessary to:
- Listen to the Word,
- Listen to the Spirit,
- and listen to wise counselors.
And it's that last word I've seen rejected too many times.
I know God's purpose for my life, so I need to obey and take action. But I also need to allow the Holy Spirit all the time and space he wants to prepare me for the task he has in mind for me to do.
Brandon Cox has been a pastor since he was 19 and has served churches large and small, including serving as a pastor at Saddleback Church. Currently, he is planting a purpose-driven church in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as editor of pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders, as well as a blog about men's issues, a blog about blogging and a blog about social media.
This article originally appeared at brandonacox.com.
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