But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Galatians 1:15-17 (NIV).
Paul knew Jeremiah’s famous words that “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart.” He personally, intimately heard Jesus’ own words to him, rebuking him for the intense persecution he inflicted on Jesus’ bride, the church. He obeyed when Jesus told him to go, blind, to Damascus, and await further instruction. Paul, at that time Saul, didn’t know what would happen to him, but he obeyed. After a short time, Paul’s sight was restored and he began to preach about Jesus as the Savior with the same fervor and vigor that he’d once used to destroy the church.
Think about your own life. Have you known trials? Of course you’ve known trials. They’re yours; they’re personal to you. Things have happened to you that were both public and private, and things have happened to you that mattered to you but not to others (or to you and not much to others). Sometimes they’re things you caused, or consequences of things you’ve said or done. Sometimes it just seems like random chance, that a meteorite simply hit you.
You’re in good company; we’re in good company because I’m right there beside you and the Apostle Paul as being chiefs of sinners. If the Lord God were like Allah, He would gladly smite us out of existence because we just aren’t good enough. But He isn’t. He’s the God who came to live as a man and take all my sins, your sins, our sins, everybody’s sins away from them forever. Even more, this same God knew you – YOU – before you were even born. When you were in your mother’s womb, just a defenseless ‘fetus.’
What’s our reaction? All too often, we’re like the dog that returns to its vomit. We’re fools; we’re sinners who can’t let ourselves get past the sin. Stupid pride holds us hostage and we let it. We’re rebellious because we can be. And even knowing that, God still sent His Son, Himself, to live, die, and live again for us, to make us good enough, to give us the keys to eternity He did it because He loved us long before we ever thought of rebelling against Him.
For further reading: Proverbs 26:11, Isaiah 40:1-4, Jeremiah 1:5, Matthew 16:17, Acts 9:5-22, Romans 8:28, Galatians 1:18