July 24

Second Chances

Acts 12:25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.

Acts 13:13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John [Mark], departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.

Acts 15:36-41 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them…. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another.

Colossians 4:10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him)….

II Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.

Did you ever blow it? Did you ever fail in a ministry situation—either as a “crash-and-burn missionary” or someone who simply couldn’t get the hang of being an usher? Or who couldn’t sing well with others in the choir? Or who just didn’t find your place in the children’s ministry?

John Mark was one of those people. After an auspicious beginning where he was chosen to accompany Barnabas and Paul on a great missionary trip, Mark left them before the trip was over and returned home to Jerusalem (we’re not told why). So great was the tension over this event that when Barnabas wanted to take Mark on his second trip with Paul, that Paul disagreed so sharply that he and Barnabas split up and went their separate ways with separate people.

What would you have done if you’d been Mark? Would you have given up on ministry, assuming that the Lord was done with you? Would you have let discouragement take you out of the race? Would you have let bitterness take over your heart? Would you have stopped serving Him?

We’re not given a lot of detail on what Mark thought, but we can follow Paul’s ever-softening heart toward him. And as we see Paul move from anger and rejection to full acceptance of Mark and his ministry (Paul even calls him a “fellow laborer” in Philemon), we also see a minister who didn’t give up.

Next from Paul’s acceptance, we also see the Lord’s. Mark hung in there, trusting the Lord to heal, open doors, and continue to use him. Not only did he become a useful missionary after all, but working with Peter’s material, became the author of the Second Gospel. That’s hardly a failure!

Prayer: Lord, thank You that You look past—and can actually build on—my failures. When I fall, help me to get back up and get back into a place of service. I trust that You will keep working with me as I make myself available to You.

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