“But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.” Galatians 1:15-17
After his experience with Jesus, Paul was led by the Spirit to go to an Arabian desert rather than to go see the original apostles. They were right there but Paul did not go see them. The church of Jesus was situated in one direction but Paul went away into Arabia. It shows us that God doesn’t always lead us to a church or to church leaders to find Him. Sometimes he leads us into a dry and silent desert instead so that we can find and experience more of Him there, away from any church setting. If God knows that we will experience more of Him in a more authentic way in the Arabian desert instead of a church, then that is best for us for the time being.
The Arabian desert provided something for Paul in his relationship with God that not even the original apostles could have given him, which is why the Spirit did not lead Paul to them. Paul might not have become the apostle that he was if it was not for his years spent away from church and in the Arabian desert. Don’t feel that if you’re not in a church or not living a church lifestyle that you’re out of God’s plan, lost your calling, no longer His, or no longer led by His Spirit. This was not the case for Paul and is not the case for you either.
During the months that led up to my eventual departure from the financially and spiritually abusive leader at the church I attended, I received a dream that stuck with me.
In this dream, I was alone inside the church and a very tall, handsome, and strong looking man came up to me. He was smiling and seemed happy. He told me “Do not submit, do not obey”.
I was so programmed by my abusive leader that my first reaction to this dream was that I thought a nice looking man would enter the church and deceive people into not submitting to and obeying our leader, the Apostle as he demanded to be called.
The words this tall and happy man spoke were important because the church environment was one where the Apostle consistently emphasized how we were all to be sumissive and obedient to him. To not obey him was not to obey God and to call upon ourselves curses and demonic attacks. He distorted the real Biblical principles of submission and obedience to control us with fear.
Now, back to the dream. The dream finally became clear to me after discussing it with a woman from the church who had a prophetic gift. We discovered that the dream represented an angel of God that was sent to me in order to tell me to no longer submit to or obey the leader of the church. His smile and happy composure are a reflection of the joy, peace, and comfort that faith in God is meant to bring – not forced submission, fear of judgment, and fear of demons. His happiness was also a depiction of the delight and joy that God takes in each of his children. In the midst of such a somber and painful walk of faith under this leader, a radiant angel full of joy came to show me a better, happier way. The dream was a clear indication from God that it was time to leave that church. We obeyed and departed from that man’s leadership. This time, it wasn’t an obedience based on fear but on joy. God can and does send us amazing supernatural signs to warn us and to rescue us from abusive and corrupt church leaders. He is a living God of revelation. Let this be an encouragement to those who come across this!