“Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.” “When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues… And they had John [Mark] to assist them.” Acts 12:25; 13:5
“Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ 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 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.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. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed.” Acts 15:36-41
“Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do[es] Mark,.. my fellow worker.” 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 23-24
John Mark was a faithful helper to Paul and Barnabas, until he was not. What caused him to abandon them at Pamphylia? Was he too young and unseasoned to follow through on a long journey? Did he let personality clashes or physical discomforts work him into giving up? Whatever the reason, it caused sharp disagreement, and the two comrades parted ways. But Barnabas the encourager (perhaps his cousin) saw something- his potential, a willingness to grow- and took him along to Cyprus. Over time, as he was mentored in faith, God changed John Mark into a strong, useful worker.
Moses was tongue-tied. Jesus had nowhere to lay his head. Several disciples went from local fishermen to nomads with their Teacher. Paul’s life turned from status to suffering. Not everyone called by God to ministry was a natural adventurer, risk-taker, or bold speaker. But through willing obedience, God enabled them to do His work, equipping and changing them along the way. (Exodus 4:10-18; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 9:58; Acts 22:3-5; 2 Corinthians 11:22-29; Philippians 3:6-8)
As long as we live, we can change. The God who calls us to specific roles or tasks is able to equip and transform. He perseveres to sanctify us in the process. (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 3:20)
Where have we grown stagnant and crusty? How willing are we to be changed by God? What excuses do we make for sloth in service, habitual sin, or ungodly attitudes? That’s just the way I am. We can’t get along. It’s too hard. I don’t know how. Am I prone to procrastinate, or bullishly plow through people to accomplish tasks? Do I shirk confrontation when it’s required, or brazenly chastise without listening? Do I accept doing only what is easy, or plunge into ‘yes!’ without prayer at all? Do I fail to speak when the Lord prompts, or run my mouth with gossip or ugly speech?
What would change if we asked the Lord to reveal parts and patterns He desires to remake, then repent, and surrender to His re-work? Where do we want to transform and grow? What’s impossible for us is possible with Him! (Matthew 18:15-17; Luke 18:27; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:15,29; Colossians 3:16)
Father, give me humility and desire to grow. Change and sanctify me to be more like Thee.