Immediately after being saved, Saul enrolled at Holy Moly Seminary where he later graduated with degrees in Missionary Church Starting and Advanced Epistle Composition. Nope... did not.
Years after the Damascus Road experience, and after his first missionary journey, the Apostle Paul wrote back to the newly birthed churches at Galatia. “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard about my former way of life in Judaism: I intensely persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among my people, because I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. But when God, who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me, so that I could preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. I did not go up to Jerusalem to those who had become apostles before me; instead I went to Arabia and came back to Damascus. Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem” (Galatians 1:11–18).
As a newborn Christian, he didn’t go to a Bible college or seminary. He didn’t read “Apostleship for Dummies.” He didn’t go Jerusalem to sit at Peter’s feet to receive the Gospel from a “human origin.” Rather, he went to Arabia, to the wilderness, where he sojourned for most of “three years” receiving his spiritual education “by a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Others also went to the wilderness. After spending forty years in Pharoah’s elite military and academic university, Moses spent an additional forty years in solitude, in the wilderness. At forty, Moses wasn’t ready to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He needed four more decades of preparation.
God could have sent Elijah directly into a nose-to-nose confrontation with wicked king Ahab and the even-more-wicked, Jezebel. Instead, Elijah spent “three years and six months” (James 5:17; 1 Kings 17:1; 18:1, 43-46) in seclusion and obscurity... in the wilderness.
God sent the Messiah’s herald, John the Baptist, into the wilderness where he “had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). Yummy.
Moses, Elijah, John, and Saul spent extended time alone with God. In the wilderness, under Divine tutelage, they learned God’s heartbeat. They came to understand the Master’s care and character.
Jesus also practiced the art of being alone with the Father. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying” (Mark 1:35).
How about you? Are you busy racing here and there, doing this and that? When’s the last time you slowed down? Will you schedule some extended time to listen for God’s heartbeat?