If you go back fourteen years from the time Paul wrote the second letter to the believers at Corinth, that places him at the time he was waiting in Tarsus. Quite possibly, during one of his numerous floggings he received in Tarsus, or in an agonizing battle to survive being stoned, he lapsed into a semi-conscious state—something of a trance. Possibly, while in that state of mind, the Lord transported him to Paradise and revealed inexpressible, profound truths to him.
The point I want to make is, even in all that, he refused to boast in his giftedness. Instead, he confessed, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). That’s true humility. Incredible perspective. He learned to boast in nothing but his own weakness. And, remember, he learned that in the shadows. But nobody knew about it. His transformation never made the headlines.
Your time of God-ordained waiting will never be all that significant in other people’s minds. All they may know is that you dropped out of sight. You’re gone from the scene. It may begin with a bankruptcy. It may start with a horrible experience you go through, such as a tragic accident or a devastating illness. You may endure the pain of a torn reputation caused by someone who didn’t tell the truth. All that devastation has a way of breaking you. The Lord uses the disappointment to lead you to your own Tarsus—otherwise known as His waiting room. There He begins to work deep within your soul until you, like Paul, gain such a renewed perspective, you can honestly confess, “When I am weak, He is strong.” When that happens, as it did with Paul, you will be ready to come out of the shadows.
Paul was now ready. Not surprisingly, God moved.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.