No matter how dramatic your own personal faith story may be, it’s probably not as impressive as the Apostle Paul’s. A Pharisee, on his way to persecute Christians, knocked off his horse, blinded by a light from heaven, the Lord Jesus physically appearing to him, scales falling off of his eyes three days later, a mandate to be the pioneer apostle to the Gentiles…. Pretty hard to top!
In the first chapter of Galatians, Paul says something pretty interesting about what he did right after this larger-than-life conversion experience and calling to the ministry: “Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Gal 1:16). The New Living Translation puts it this way, “Immediately I didn’t consult with any human being.”
Many Christians would actually look at this decision as downright irresponsible! Many “mature, seasoned believers” would caution someone with such a sensational testimony and spiritual experience to “run it by some people”. Or to get some “godly counsel”. Or to get some balanced advice from trusted spiritual leaders. But Paul knew that his mandate from God was so real and so personal, that he just couldn’t risk telling anyone else right away.
I wonder how many God-given dreams and visions have died because we were so quick to rush out and get other people’s opinions about them. I wonder how many God-anointed ambitions were squelched because we listened to faithless, pessimistic input from others. God’s Word indeed says, “in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14), but before we run to others for suggestions or advice, we’d be so much better to run to God for confirmation, first.
Our natural tendency is to seek out our friends and family members for suggestions when we find ourselves in a dilemma. Before we know it, we’ve asked ten different people and we’ve gotten ten different answers and we’re more confused than we were before we asked anyone’s opinion! Why not, instead, go to the only One who can do anything about it? The only One who knows all about it?
Years ago my pastor said something that’s stuck with me ever since, “when trouble strikes, instead of running to the phone, run to the throne.”
Paul eventually went up to Jerusalem to get counsel from Peter and the other Apostles (1:18), but not before first going to the Arabian desert to get alone with God. Let’s never forget the importance of making time each day to get alone with God. Praise God for spiritual friends and wise counsel. But let’s not start there. Instead of “conferring with flesh and blood”, let’s make prayer our first option rather than our last resort!
“I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).