Most of us have heard the story of Joni Eareckson Tada. The story of her life is a great read, and the movie of her life is better yet. Her dive into a body of water that was shallower than she expected, left her with a broken neck. She has lived her entire life as a quadriplegic. Despite that, she has lived a life of great significance.
A change in life’s plan has happened to many of us. We are today where we did not plan on being. For some, that is good, but for others the change has brought disaster.

The Apostle Paul was on his way to Damascus, in Syria, when his plans were changed. A light brighter than the noonday sun and a voice from heaven had him lying on the cobblestone road that he had been traveling. His immediate goal had been to incarcerate Jewish people who had left Judaism to become followers of a man by the name of Jesus. He never made it. His life was changed. Judaism had been his goal all of his life. His entire life was controlled by the Mosaic law. Can a person change the direction of his life in a moment’s time? How do you reprogram your mind to believe in something that yesterday you were trying to destroy?
The Apostle gives us just a tiny glimpse into this part of his life in Galatians. In Galatians 1:15 he says, “But when he, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me…I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood nor did I go to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me, but I went away to Arabia, then I returned once more to Damascus”.

Why Arabia? It is a desert. There are no great schools of learning there. Paul had no family there that needed a visit. Why did he go to Arabia after this great change that took place on the Damascus Road? It is indicated that he spent three years there.

Perhaps we should inquire of others who went to Arabia. Perhaps they can show us something from Arabia. So, I call for Moses. “Moses, why were you in Arabia?” He tells me the story of how he was raised in comfort in Egypt, but one day he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Israelites. He killed the Egyptian and when his stepfather [Pharaoh] heard about it, Moses tells me he had to flee. Where? To Arabia, that desolate land of sand, wind and nothingness. “What did you do there?” He tells me he herded his father in law’s sheep for 40 years. Then one day while wandering in the desert, he saw this bush, burning but not being consumed. He went to examine, and a voice came from the bush, and it was there in the Arabian desert, he found God. God was not in the temples of Egypt, but in the desert.

Elijah is known as the greatest of all the Old Testament Prophets. He is the one who met with King Ahab, and he told the King, “It is not going to rain for three years”. When it finally did rain after his prayers on Carmel, he killed Jezebel’s 400 Prophets of Baal then ran to Jezreel to inform her majesty of the event. Rather than her congratulating him, she threatened to kill him. Elijah ran. He ran for about 150 miles! Where did he run to? Arabia! What Did Elijah find in Arabia? He found a cave, where he sat, depressed, not understanding why, when he did what God told him to do, a wicked woman tells him she will kill him. In his fear and desperation, he flees to the desert of Arabia. Interestingly, a voice asks him, “what  are you doing here”?

There is one more person that I call up. John the Baptist was such a man of promise. He was to be the forerunner of the Messiah. His birth was announced to his Priestly Father, while he was doing ministry in the Temple. We are told nothing of the Baptist’s early life except one phrase; “he was in the desert until the day of his showing unto Israel”. He then is described as a man clothed in camels’ skin, eating locusts and wild honey. He found out who he was-in Arabia.

What did these men find in Arabia? There is Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai. After the Children of Israel came out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, they then stood on the banks of the Arabian desert.

Sometimes, like Joni Eareckson, we find ourselves in a desert of life. That desert will either kill us or nourish us. Some people die in the desert of life and others find life in the desert of their life. What is the key? How could life or death be found in the same place? We generally look for “the fountain of life” to retain our youth,  and hold on to all out wins. None of us purposefully head for Arabia. But many of us get there at some period in our life. I have been in Arabia several times.

When Paul had his marvelous conversion experience outside the city of Damascus, it was a life changer for him. What he thought was false and needed to be destroyed, actually was the truth. What he thought led to death actually led to life. How does a person wrap his mind around that? How do you change your entire thought process while lying in the dust?

Arabia was necessary for Paul. He had to rethink his entire life. It was during this time of isolation that Paul received this Gospel of Life. It was during this time of isolation that he became a totally new man and was willing to face death and dying for the very cause that he once tried to destroy.

I think most of us visit Arabia at various times in our life. There may be times you lay on a bed of sickness, totally immobilized. You can do nothing for yourself, but God can do marvelous things in your spirit.

Broken relationships can send us to Arabia. We walk and live alone, forever separated from one we once loved. I have found many people in Arabia during a time like this in their lives. While in the desert, we seek to understand ourselves and what part we played in the broken relationship. We almost always find God in Arabia. It is interesting that we do not find Him at the top of Mount Hermon that place of His transfiguration. We find him at Mount Sinai in Arabia.

I suppose it was in this very same Arabia that Abraham’s bond woman, Hagar, having been driven out of the camp by the jealousy of Sarah, was lying near death from starvation and thirst when she heard the voice of the angel who comforted her in her distress. It was then Hagar exclaimed, “have I also here, -even in this desert place-found God? Thou God seest me”! Even in Arabia.

In the desert.

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