“. . . left for Tarsus to look for Saul; . . ." Acts 11:25
We have an image of the successful Christian life. One in which we are uber usable, always confident, always strong, and always achieving great things for the Kingdom. We mistakenly believe our life of faith should always be fiery and fresh. As well, we think our success in service should be instantaneous, without strain or struggle. But this is not the way of God. He takes us through an unexpected path of preparation.
Paul's first visit to Jerusalem was not a successful one. His arrival caused great disturbance and upheaval in the Church. The Christians there feared he had come to kill them and quickly ran him out of town. In his eager determination to serve, he hurt the cause of Christ. Though his motive was right, he wasn't ready for the Church. So Paul retreated to Tarsus where he spent the next fourteen years.
The years of obscurity in Tarsus were of extreme importance. It was there Paul was restored from his life of religion and hatred. His self-sufficiency was destroyed. It was there he thought through the gospel which he would later write and preach about. It was during this period that Paul developed both as a Christian and as a theologian.
God had placed Paul in the obscurity of Tarsus out of the limelight. During those silent years Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to teach. He was brought into a vivid personal overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ. All his interest narrowed until he saw nothing else and lived for nothing else but Jesus.
Every follower of Christ has to pass through a season of obscurity. Don't despair, God has not forgotten you or set you aside. You may feel the urge to rush ahead of God –don't. You were meant for more, but you first must be made for more. Obscurity is a gift. It's is a time where you are to be still, listen, and trust His timing.
Are you trusting in yourself? Is your confidence in God?