Galatians 2:2 “I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain” (NIV).

Observation: Paul had first felt released to preach years earlier and was confident in his effectiveness because his reputation preceded him (see Gal. 1:23). But after fourteen years, he went to Jerusalem to meet with men who could vet his message. Paul recognized the authority of Jerusalem church leaders and was eager to submit to them in private, so they could be free to say to him whatever they wished.

Application: The picture that normally comes to mind when thinking of Paul is not one of meekness and humility. His more usual image is that of a trained lawyer confidently presenting seasoned arguments before a court, or of a recklessly abandoned preacher pressing on through all sorts of affliction and opposition.

Here he showed us another side. He wrote that he went “privately” for “fear” that he was running his race in vain. Paul a man of fear? Does that fit his image? At long last, I see that Paul did indeed fear something: the possibility that he might somehow be on the wrong track, that his life might not count as he had hoped.

In this, Paul presents an astonishing model of vulnerability for me. Think how difficult it must be for anyone of Paul’s prominence to submit to others’ evaluation as to how the core of their life is being invested. With prominence often comes at least the veneer of confidence even to the point of pretense. In famous men and women I rarely get a glimpse of the kind of introspection that can lead to personal or professional course correction.

But am I all that different? How prepared am I to approach another person privately to say, “I’ve been parenting along these lines; what do you think?” Or, “I have been dealing with co-workers this way; what might you recommend I do differently?” Or, “I’m sure that deep down my spouse trusts my love, but what can you suggest I do to express even greater depths of my affection?”

Submission to one another, let alone to authority, is completely unnatural. I arrive there hard-wired with presumption that my way is best. But God wants me to lay down everything I value, to step back from my performance long enough to enable Him to completely remake me. Just as He formed me originally in my mother’s womb, so now He wants me to climb onto His heavenly potter’s wheel. What I think I know very well is merely the beginning of knowledge. What I think I do very well is merely a glimmer of what He will do through me if I will but submit to His remaking.

Prayer: Lord, I don’t want life on my terms, I want it on Yours. I don’t want to settle for my best, because that’s as nothing before You. Please, Lord, live Your life through me; have Your way, Lord.