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Devotional - week of March 21, 2004


THE LONELINESS OF GRACE

When the brethren found out, they … sent him out to Tarsus.  Acts 11:30

The disciples sent Paul to Tarsus after the Jews threatened his life soon after his three year stay in Arabia where God revealed to him his oneness with Christ.

In Galatians 2:1, the Apostle writes that he returned to Jerusalem 14 years after the brethren sent him away. This revelation of the 14 years along with a study of the Book of Acts, shows that Paul was in Tarsus about ten years.

Paul must have needed these ten years to mature in his understanding of what had been revealed to him in Arabia. Also, he had time to mature in experiencing his oneness with Jesus in crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

Those ten years must have been lonely ones for Paul. He surely experienced rejection—and possibly by his own family. He was not in the center of the Christian movement. Most likely he had no one with whom he could fellowship about the truths of salvation by grace and living by grace.

Today, one who understands and experiences his oneness with

Christ may have a lonelier life than before. God is providing the opportunity to meditate on and experience the new-creation life. The loneliness may be something he has never experienced before. It may be difficult, but the blessings are many.

In the early days of understanding and experiencing his union with Christ, one believer testifies:

I am now allowing loneliness to be my companion. But I am willing to experience loneliness—mostly because in it I have opportunity to live out my oneness with Christ. I am spending more time choosing, believing, and experiencing my crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. I am lonelier than I've ever been and more at peace than I’ve ever been.

In different ways God creates lonely circumstances for those in the early days of understanding their union with Christ. At times the loneliness can be very painful. But growth in understanding and experiencing our union with Christ is worth it all.