conflict of interest

John Mark

It’s definitely safe to say that Acts is now one of my favorite books in Scripture. There are so many characters at play and it is really so exciting, yet it makes me mad at the same time, because I desire to see the work of the Spirit more frequently in the [Western] church and believers to be used by God in the magnificent ways that He used the apostles. But that is another post altogether. Subsequently, there is one character that I want to point out that appears a couple times in Acts, then resurfaces a few more times in Paul’s epistles. His name is John Mark.

When we first meet John Mark, we learn of his mother, a Christian woman who lodged Peter after he escaped prison. Afterward, he goes off with Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, which is when the story gets interesting. We learn about two chapters later that John Mark decided to go back home, for reasons unknown. I have heard many say that it was because he found the work too hard and or it was more involved than he realized, but there is also the possibility that he went back home to care for his mother, whichever reason it was, we don’t know for sure. Nevertheless, his departure caused a split between Paul and Barnabas (his cousin) later on; Barnabas wanted to welcome him back and bring him along on the missionary journey, but Paul wasn’t having it, thus Barnabas and his cousin went in one direction and Paul another.

So, what’s the point.

After considering the reactions of Paul and Barnabas, I can understand why each felt the way they did and can’t say either of them was wrong for their choice. As we deal with people in living out our purpose, we must not only recognize that people don’t always think like us or agree with us,  and like Barnabas our perspectives can be influenced as well by family. Again, this doesn’t mean that we are right or wrong, however, this story does compel us to develop not only wisdom and discernment, but compassion and patience as well when dealing with people, because even though John Mark’s reason for leaving them was deemed inexcusable, it teaches us that sometimes people just aren’t ready for what we hope or don’t see themselves as we see them. For, John didn’t leave the faith, as some assume, he left his assignment. Unfortunately, people will walk away for one reason or another, and we have the choice to trust them should they return or leave them, which is when discerning the voice of God comes into play.

Ultimately, we see that both Paul and Barnabas did what they thought was right, and God honored them both, even though they were separated for a time; whatever work Barnabas did with John paid off because not only did he end up in prison alongside Paul some years later, but Paul had also requested his presence in ministry, validating his value in the work of the Lord.

It’s not clear in Scripture when exactly Paul and Barnabas and John Mark all reunited, but the Spirit was obviously present in the development of their relationship. The point I desire to make in all of this is that God is one of reconciliation and restoration, in His timing and His way, and he does allow the people we work with to come in and out of our lives for seasons, but that doesn’t mean we stop praying for them or condemn their choices because of  a difference of opinion. Furthermore, some individuals do require extra grace and extra encouragement as they are figuring their way out and trying to honor the Lord and do what He has purposed for them to do, and if God has called us to extend that grace, then we must, because we never know what blessings we may forfeit if we turn someone away who disappointed us. How many times have we failed or disappointed God and He still keeps His arms open? But again, our journey may require us to not allow someone in our close space to protect us and protect them, like Paul, but if the Lord brings you back together, we must trust Him.

To be honest, I don’t know if this made sense. A lot was going through my mind when the Lord first illuminated John Mark’s story to me, and I wanted to get it all out before I forgot. I may come back and add to this blog so come back here in a week to check lol. Nonetheless, I think this disciple’s story reflects so many of us and those we know who aren’t ready to walk in their calling, especially if it connected with our own, but God’s grace is sufficient, so we must be mindful and not discourage those who decide to take time to do work through their things, because when God burden’s their heart enough and that fire is finally lit inside of them, the demons in Hell will tremble.

People are interesting and relationships are complex when you mix personalities and personal experiences together, and that’s what makes this race we run so beautiful, because each variation of our colors and beauty creates a breathtaking reflection of the glory of God. So, with wisdom and discernment, compassion and patience, be yourself for a purpose.

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A Day Like Today

So to keep this short and from putting people on blast, today did not go my way. I was in a competition, and while singing the mic started to act funny then it just went smooth off. First fail of the day, then on top of that I was the last one to get there, but was somehow the first to perform. What in the world?! I was so not expecting that. Then there were the other acts which were cool, including my sister who did phenomenal. I knew one of us had it in the bag, until my fiasco lol. Anyhow, my sister won. I can’t lie and say I didn’t, but I really did want to win…real bad. But, I sucked it up. I had to she was my sister ☺. So after that we were waiting for her prize and all that jazz, and long story very short, she wasn’t able to receive it, due to a conflict of interest. I knew something was wrong, especially when she came back to me crying. Oh snap! It was about to be a wrap. But I held it together; I had to. There was really nothing that I could do. Still, for my sister to cry that protective mode kicked in quick and…yeah, and then my momma apologized because of how the whole thing went down. Man oh, man. Got my emotions all jacked up.

All that to say, this is the second time when I expected something to go one way, my way, and it didn’t, but I accepted the next best thing and that didn’t pan out either. Each time all I could say was, “God what in the world?! What is the purpose ’cause I ain’t gettin’ it?”

The first time this happened, it’s been about 2 years, and the Lord pretty much took away my dream. I had one plan, and it didn’t work out the way I had originally planned, so I settled with what I thought was the next best thing, but would ultimately get me where I wanted to go. Needless to say, once I figured out that plan was so null and void, I never felt so lost in my life. It was then I discovered and accepted God’s control over my life. It was hard because I had it all planned to a ‘t,’ and He stripped it away. So I was left with nothing. Or so I thought. Now what happened today wasn’t as dramatic emotionally and spiritually lol, but it just reminds me that God is God.

Back to my second story, it was when I just waited on God and did what I could do for Him in the mean time. He developed a new passion. This year is the year that what He has been doing in my life since I graduated in 2010 is coming to fruition. On a day like today, I was reminded that things will not always go my way, won’t always go smoothly, and won’t always make sense no matter what way you look at it. Still, God’s favor is real and He knows best. Many times we don’t see what He is up to behind the scenes, and so the only purpose we have sometimes is just to show up and do just what He had for you to do, and trust that God will bless our efforts. I know this because even though things didn’t go how I desired, I still made connections and even got a singing gig ☺.

So if you get nothing else from this post, I encourage you to seize every opportunity, even when it may not be all you hoped. There is always good, we just have to find it and keep it moving. Your purpose depends on it.