A New Year’s Second Chance

Have you been running away lately?  Maybe not physically, but in your mind or emotions?  Have things seemed overwhelming and you don’t know exactly how God is going to help you or deliver you?  Are you thinking you just ought to give up?  Or maybe at some point in the past perhaps you did give up and quit.  Perhaps you feel now there’s no second chance for you.

John Mark was someone who ran away when things got to be too tough.  I love his story in the Bible because I identify with him so much.

John Mark is first mentioned in Acts 12.  When Peter was delivered from prison in this chapter, he goes to the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother.  Mark’s family was not impoverished as they were able to afford a home large enough for many to gather and a servant, Rhoda, is mentioned.  Paul and Barnabas must have liked what they knew of John Mark (Barnabas was a cousin of Mark’s and he would have known him well), because when they returned to Antioch from Jerusalem they took Mark with them.

From Antioch, sent by the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas went to Cyprus to proclaim the good news about Jesus Christ.  Again, Mark traveled with them.   We don’t know what went through Mark’s mind on the island, but the opposition and confrontation encountered at Paphos may have been too much for him.  Even though the incident ended with a Roman proconsul believing in Jesus, Mark decided to go home to Jerusalem.  We know that this was not the right decision and that Mark was running away, because when Paul and Barnabas discussed a return journey Paul says he would not take Mark because Mark had deserted their work.

So Mark blew it.  Even though he was with his cousin, Barnabas (whose name meant Son of Encouragement and who surely must have tried to help Mark), and even though he had Paul’s example of courage, it was too much.  Whether he was homesick or spoiled or scared or some combination, we don’t know.  We only know that he decided he’d had enough and he ran.

Was that it for Mark?  Was that the end of his story?  No, no, and again no.

We see evidence in the New Testament that God didn’t give up on Mark—He gave Him a second chance.  We see evidence that Mark grew and learned to trust God in the tough times.

Peter mentions Mark at the end of his first letter, calling him “my son.”  Their close relationship is reflected in Mark’s writing of his gospel, “…behind Mark’s Gospel there is in fact the preaching and authority of the apostle Peter.”1

Mark wrote one of the four gospels.  How’s that for a demonstration of the wonderful forgiveness and grace of God?—to be called to write one of the records of the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus?

We also know that as Paul’s life was drawing to a close, at a point in Paul’s life when he is alone, except for Luke, and has known desertion once more by other Christians, he writes Timothy and tells him:

“Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.”
2 Timothy 4:11b

Since Cyprus, Paul had worked with Mark; he knew Mark had changed; and Paul knows in his last difficult hour, that this time Mark won’t desert him.

If you’re at the brink of running, Stop.  Turn to God and ask Him to keep you focused on Him and trusting in His grace to be sufficient for your needs.

If you’ve already run, and you think there’s no going back, Stop.  There’s no going back, but there’s always going forward.  In John Mark, we have an example of someone who went forward in faith, forward in God’s grace.  You can go forward, too.  Repent of the past and go forward in God’s grace.  You, too, can be another one of God’s John Marks.

“Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.”
2 Timothy 4:11b

Two Rocks: Photograph taken on the way to Paphos by Vladimer,
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.
1C. E. Graham Swift, “Mark,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 851.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

2 thoughts on “A New Year’s Second Chance

  1. We so need to know and realize that He doesn’t turn us out.

    It’s encouraging to me to see you here. I want to let you know that I edited out your last name in the name box as a privacy precaution for you. Once I approved your first comment, there shouldn’t be a delay with the others. You caught me at the computer working on some other posts!

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