If we are honest, we’ve all probably said that. If we are really honest, we’ve all probably said that several times.
We make mistakes and assume the worst about ourselves and our future. The fact is restoration is possible, but not just possible – available to you right now.
It’s hard in some respects, but it is there for you.
|Photo from RGBstock.com by Dan Shirley|
Last week, we talked about Demas and how we can look to him as a warning for our lives. He was commended by Paul in two letters, before later deserting the imprisoned apostle when he need him the most.
Mark has almost the mirror opposite story in his relationship with Paul. He left Paul in the middle of a mission trip, only later to have Paul describe him as “useful to me in the ministry.”
In Acts 12, we meet Mark for the first time. His mom’s house was serving as the place for a prayer gathering concerning Peter’s imprisonment. Later, he is chosen by Paul and Barnabas to be a companion on their missionary journey.
Three chapters later, we find out that Mark, for whatever reason, left Paul and Barnabas to come back home. Maybe he wasn’t quite ready for the almost daily persecution Paul faced. Maybe he was overwhelmed by it all. Maybe he just missed his momma’s big house and good food. Who knows?
Whatever reason he left, Paul didn’t think it was a good enough reason. He and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement” over taking Mark again. Paul refused, so he took Silas and went his separate ways from Barnabas, who took Mark with him again.
Over the next few years, though, something changed. Paul went from disassociation with Mark and even Barnabas to commending Mark to the Colossian church (Colossians 4:10) and telling Philemon that Mark was one of his coworkers in the Gospel (Philemon 1:24).
Peter describes Mark, as Paul does Timothy, as his son in the faith (1 Peter 5:13). Obviously, Mark also wrote one of the four Gospels we have in the New Testament. Not only that, but in the last days of his life Paul wanted to see Mark again because Paul regarded him as useful to his ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
Mark went from someone Paul refused to associate with to being someone that he found vital to his ministry. Restoration is possible and Mark proves it.
So, what was the difference between Mark and Demas? Scripture doesn’t give us a lot of specifics for the lives of these two men, particularly Demas, but we do know one thing Mark had – an encourager.
He had a cousin who was so characterized by encouragement that others gave him a new name to match. Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” He wasn’t just given that name though – he earned it through a lifestyle of encouraging others.
Barnabas felt so strongly about giving Mark a second chance that he broke with Paul, another man whom he had encouraged when no one else would.
It’s not too late for you. Look at the way Mark’s life changed. The same can be true for you. It’s a matter of not sitting back being sorry for yourself, but taking advantage of the next opportunity that God places before you.
It’s also not too late for someone around you that has fallen, but they need a Barnabas. You can be their son or daughter of encouragement. God can use you to be the reason their life looks like Mark’s and not Demas’.
Never give up on yourself or anyone else. It’s not too late.