Galatians 1:15-16 (NIV)
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles
You have been set apart
In this passage of scripture, Paul reveals something amazing about the will of God. Our purpose is crafted and formed outside of time in the realm of the eternal in the eternal mind of God.
Jeremiah talks about it this way in Jeremiah 1:5,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
And the Psalmist expresses his wonder of this truth in Psalm 139:13-14,
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
God was very involved in forming us but He doesn’t stop there He sets us apart for and gives us a mission – a purpose and a passion.
That’s an amazing truth.
But what I want you to notice today is that being set apart doesn’t always look this same or even look like a problem less perfect life.
It can be messy and even ugly.
Why do I say this? Because of what Paul talks about before he mentions this amazing truth about God grace.
Right before this verse, look how Paul talks about his life:
Galatians 1:13 (NIV) For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.
So what can we take away from this?
God can redeem everything you’ve been through and use it for His Glory
God took this man who was zealous and passionate and used transformed those passions for His glory. And God even took all the skills Paul had gained and used them for His glory.
Paul’s life before Christ enabled him to be effective in the plan God had for him – to preach to the gentiles. His education, birthplace, and training were later redeemed and used for God service.
It’s not over until God says it’s over
Be honest – have you ever doubted God?
You’re not alone. All of us at some time or another have.
Never underestimate God’s ability to work out His plan for your life.
Paul’s life is a testament to what God can do. He can redeem anyone no matter how far gone the may appear to us. Never think someone is out of His reach.
Never count God out
This is like one of those great twists in a movie you never saw coming.
Look how Paul reflects on what God has done.
Galatians 1:23-24 (NIV) They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
I think all of us can look at our lives and say, “I never saw that coming”.
But God is never surprised and He is always in control. Paul knows this and he gives God the credit for all of it – Paul confidently admits “it was God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace”.
Paul didn’t accidentally stumble upon God. God chose him. And God has chosen you.
So don’t count God out.
His ways are not our ways
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
Whatever you’ve been through – it doesn’t matter.
Quit trying to fit God into your little box of how things should be or should’ve been. Maybe God’s plan for your life looks different than your plan for your life.
And there are typically a few more turns than we ever expected.
But with God there are always new beginnings – Saul became Paul. Paul may have preferred to never have been Saul. But there was no way He could change that.
He could just rejoice in what God had done in him and what He was doing through him.