I just spent almost a week on a ministry trip in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. In between speaking events, I saw friends and family, and the first two days stayed with our old neighbors, who I still love and miss.
But sometimes when we go back, we realize how far we’ve come.
One of my closest friends said, “You’re a lot more religious than you were when you lived here.”
I thought about that statement and realized my old pals were able to see my spiritual growth even easier than I could myself. But this growth was spurred on by a difficult move to North Texas over a decade ago, where God separated me from what was easy and comfortable and took me to a period of isolation and instability.
The apostle Paul understands. After his conversion that rocked his world, he realized he was set apart from his mother’s womb to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and for a while “did not consult any human being.” Paul wanted to be trained by God himself for the calling that was in front of him.
While I didn’t necessarily choose to leave my roots, I believe God plucked me out of my old friend group and family ties to start a training process for the future calling on my life. In those days, I was too caught up in material things and social events, and I needed to rearrange my priorities.
What about you? Has God ever moved you to a strange place where all you have is Him to talk to?
Where the Word becomes your encourager?
Where prayer is your only hope?
The solitary confinement is not punishment. It’s necessary to further mold you into God’s image and to draw you to where you need to be for the mission ahead.
When I look back to my days in San Antonio, I realize that I was far too concerned about pleasing people than winning the approval of God. Paul said,
“If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
So if you are finding yourself alone right now, perhaps God has enrolled you in His “Spiritual Growth Class.” Instead of fretting about leaving behind the old, embrace the new, and look forward to what’s ahead. God has a plan for your life and often times he has to pull you out of the familiar in order to complete the preparation process.