Desert time. Down time. Crunch time.


The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers. Acts 9:31

Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Galatians 1:11-17

The verse above from the book of Acts indicates a period of relative calm for the developing church in Jerusalem. It was also a time of steady growth, not only of people being added to the church but of individual growth of the believers. The verses from Galatians explain what was going on with Saul (later known as Paul) during this time. He spent a long time alone in an Arabian desert. It’s hard to nail down an accurate chronology of the book of Acts from the New Testament, but most scholars have this desert time lasting anywhere from three to ten years. My most trusted source has it at ten. Anyway you cut it, it’s a long time to be relatively inactive in a book of action.

What was Paul doing during this time? He tells us. He was being taught by the Holy Spirit through what he calls a direct revelation from Jesus Christ. This may look like down time, but it’s really crunch time. What Paul was going to need for three missionary journeys and the writing of 14 letters to the new churches which would later become a part of our Bible took some time to prepare for.

Everybody’s “book of Acts” needs some down time — time to study the word of God and learn to listen for the inner voice of the Holy Spirit. It may even feel like desert time — like you’ve been abandoned for a season. You haven’t been. God just wants you to listen.

The important thing about this time is that we learn to listen to God speaking to us directly from the Word. Not that other teachers aren’t important or that we shouldn’t take advantage of the many resources we have available in the study and interpretation of the scriptures, but ultimately we need to develop our own way of hearing from the Lord. And this takes time — and in some cases, time away.

John tells us in one of his letters that we have no need of anyone to teach us because we have the Holy Spirit who will lead us into all truth. This is something we should all know and love about this faith — it is our own. God speaks to us in inaudible ways. He will show us things unique to us. These will be our treasures. Learn to listen to that still small voice. And if this happens to be a desert time for you, all the better. Use it to study and deepen your faith. Use it to get your own insights out of the word of God. Paul took ten years for this; we can afford some time.

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1 Response to Desert time. Down time. Crunch time.

  1. Sandie says:

    I clearly remember such a ‘down’ time…sometimes it felt like a desert. During a church service, one of the elders laid hands on Bobby and me, proclaiming that God had called us to a ministry of music. Well, we were ready to head out the next day…God had other plans apparently…it was about 10 years from the calling to the night we first took the stage as Nightwatch (Psalm 134). It was during that time that God brought me to my work with teens and I sat at His feet to learn, What transpired was a burden for youth and I used the music platform to call out to believers to get up off their spiritual rumps and get busy IN the world. Sometimes I wasn’t too popular, even with my fellow band members. I’ve learned that whatever ‘season’ I am in – there is something for me to learn…and something for me to teach. I believe it’s the same for all believers.

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