Posts Tagged ‘John Mark’

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“CRASHING IN OUR FAITH” – Feb. 23

February 23, 2013

“Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark.  But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.  And there arose a sharp disagreement,
so that they separated from each other.” Acts 15:37-39a

DSC_0004Last fall I was training for my first triathlon.  I was a little nervous about all the race uncertainty.  I thought that it would be a good idea to ride the actual cycling course.  My hope was that riding the race route would alleviate some race day jitters.  A couple of weeks before the race, a friend and I packed up all of our gear and traveled to the site where I planned to cross-off a goal that I have had for a couple of decades.

My goal for the race was to average 20 mph so I was trying to cycle the course at that pace. I was on a part of the course that had a several mile long straight section followed by 90 degree turn at a road intersection.  I stopped pedaling as I approached the intersection.  There was no traffic to be seen so my intention was to make a long sweeping turn and immediately start pedaling in an effort to regain the speed I lost in the turn as fast as possible.

I came out of my handlebar drops and leaned into my turn.  I quickly crossed the opposite lane of traffic and traveled through the intersection.  That was when I realized that I was in trouble.  The trajectory of my chosen line was not going to keep me on the road.  My route now included the gravel of the road shoulder, a concrete irrigation ditch and a field.  There was not time to hit the brakes and stop. My only option was to try to alter my course with a little more lean and hope my tires held.

There is a point at which the force of a turn overcomes the ability of your tires to hold the road.  I discovered that point.  When I pressed for a little more on my turn, my tires slipped out from under me.   There was a moment of clarity as the tension throughout my bike was suddenly released.

I thought, “This is going to hurt.”

In the next instance, my chest hit the asphalt, followed by my chin as I unconsciously twisted to take the blow.  Apparently, my bike had gone airborne, along with my clipped in feet, so that the last part of my body to hit was my hip and legs.

I lay ingloriously stunned along the roadside after I had slid to a stop.  I was bleeding from various cuts and scrapes but there was not excessive pain coming from any particular joint and bone.  I gathered my senses as my friend checked out my bike.  Surprisingly, it was intact except for some scrapes and gashes. Since I only had some flesh wounds, we decided that we might as well complete our ride at a much reduced pace.

I had made a pretty big mistake and had paid the price.  I had crashed and left some DNA behind.  My choice was whether I was going to let my mistake take me out of the race.  I pretty quickly decided that I would learn from my mistake and take that experience and allow it to make me a better cyclist.  I now know how to turn better.  That crash has not dictated my future.

I wonder how many people have crashed in their spiritual lives and allowed that painful, miserable, and embarrassing experience dictate their lives from that point forward.

I am encouraged by the life of John Mark.  John Mark made a huge mistake.  He bailed on Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey.  They were just getting started and John Mark leaves them and heads back to Jerusalem where his mother lived.

It was a big deal.  I don’t know what his reason for leaving was but based on Paul’s response, I don’t think it was a very good excuse.  John Mark’s decision had some significant consequences.  Paul had lost his confidence in John Mark.  John Mark had shown that went times got tough he would run home.  Paul did not want to take that chance again.  The split up of the missionary team of Paul and Barnabas was centered on John Mark’s mistake.

How would you like to have one of your mistakes be the reason for an argument and split between two pillars of the early Church?

John Mark had some choices.  He could have let his mistake dictate who he was.  He could have refused to take any future responsibilities because he lacked confidence.  He could have been bitter and resentful of Paul.  He could have allowed his mistake to take him out of the race.

John Mark did not allow that to happen.  He stayed in the race and he learned from his mistake.

John Mark learned to be one of the most faithful of the early Church leaders.  It is John Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark.  He is that Mark.  He was a faithful confidant of Peter and dictated Peter’s experience into one of the four gospels.  He proved himself and restored Paul’s confidence in him.  It was John Mark that Paul asked for when he was in prison in Rome.

“…Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me in ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11

How wonderful is that?  John Mark went from a person that Paul did not want to do ministry with to a person that Paul found “very useful.”

That was only possible because Mark stayed in the race.

Mark crashed in a very painful and public display.  He caved when the pressure was applied.  He ran when his fellow servants needed him.  His mistake caused division.  He disappointed many of the people that he respected.  He did all of that.  I am sure that his crash stunned him; it probably dazed him for a while. I am sure that his poor decision caused him much pain but he did not get out of the race.

It is obvious that Mark took his mistake and learned from it.

He proved that he was “very useful.”  He proved that he could be relied upon.  He demonstrated that his mistake did not define his life.  He stayed in the race and God used him in some incredible ways.  Mark and the early Church were all beneficiaries of giving his mistake to the Lord and allowing our Lord to repair, restore, and teach from it.

God could have used another person if Mark had decided that his mistake was too big and painful.  Mark’s decision to live for God in whatever the Lord had for him resulted in him participating in the ministry of the Apostles.  That is an incredible privilege that was granted to Mark.  It would have been very sad for Mark to have missed out on being used by God just because he had crashed.

Maybe, you have crashed in your faith. 

Maybe, you have proven yourself unfaithful. 

Remember Mark. 

Don’t let your mistakes dictate your future.  Our God can restore and rebuild.  We just have to give it to God, trust Him, and give it some time.  That does not mean that our mistakes will not have consequences that hurt.  The question is what will you do with that pain?

Will you allow the pain of your mistake to sideline you or;

Will you allow your experience to make you “very useful?

Every person who has followed Christ for any length of time has made a mistake in their faith.  They are painful and embarrassing.  No one likes them.  However, we all face some decisions after a mistake happens.  We can take our ball, run home and abandon the race or we can stay in the race, learn from our mistakes and become better servants of our Lord and Savior.  It is up to us.

Let’s take our mistakes and become that person who others will seek out because the Lord has made us “very useful” for His work.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for not allowing our mistakes to dictate our future.  Thank you for rebuilding and restoring those things that in our flesh we have destroyed.  Father, use all of my mistakes.  Take those unpleasant and painful experiences and make me useful through the work of your Spirit.  Lord, please don’t leave me like I am.  Change me more and more into your image in spite of the mistakes that I have made..     Amen

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