I wish I had a pause button. It would be handy to have a way to “check out” for a few moments during the day and not miss anything in the process. All the activity would go into freeze mode while I catch up or take a breather. Of course, I would like to be in charge of my pause button. I would not be so keen on someone else having control of when the pauses come.
Periods of waiting are really just temporary pauses. The power is still on, the disc is still in the player and in a moment, things will pick right back up where they left off. We just need to be careful not to give up and shut down during the pauses. God does some of His best work during lulls.
Saul was on his way to persecute Christians when the light of Christ knocked him flat. He experienced a radical conversion and then made a complete u-turn. Immediately, Saul began his work of building churches and writing a good portion of the New Testament. Right? Push pause.
After a few days, Saul-the-hunter became Saul-the-hunted. Evidently the head honchos at the synagogue didn’t like the idea of their up-and-coming persecutor going soft on them. Saul changed his name to Paul and got outta town. Acts 9:23 says, “After many days had gone by…” Yeah, it was many days, all right. Galatians 1:18 is a little more specific, “Then after three years….”
Wait a minute….. or three years. What did the fresh convert do all that time? Why did Paul go off to the Damascus desert and hole up for thirty-six months? Was that really the best use of his time and talent? There were churches to plant and sermons to preach. The world needed his brilliance and leadership.
I don’t know what Paul did during that long pause, but it probably had something to do with re-programming his Pharisee-driven thinking. Most likely, he studied the scriptures with unveiled eyes and sharp understanding. He learned how to make tents so he would be able to support his own ministry. He wrestled with guilt and found forgiveness. Paul discovered how to abide in the life-giving freedom of the Spirit instead of the suffocating legalism of the law. Only then was he ready to go out and change the world.
God provides built-in pauses for His people — sleeping at night, the Sabbath Day, Advent season. If we don’t embrace these times of waiting, we won’t be ready to change our world.