“Proximity and activity don’t always equal connectivity.”
Lysa TerKeurst from Uninvited
Paul and Barnabas commissioned and sent off, spending days, weeks, months working side by side. Barnabas encouraging. Paul teaching and preaching the Word.
Three chapters of Acts, more than several towns and stops, a few pages in my Bible, we watch them share life and ministry. Together. Living in close proximity.
And then this happens.
Paul and Barnabas stayed on in Antioch, teaching and preaching the Word of God. But they were not alone. There were a number of teachers and preachers at that time in Antioch.
After a few days of this, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all our friends in each of the towns where we preached the Word of God. Let’s see how they’re doing.”
Barnabas wanted to take John along, the John nicknamed Mark. But Paul wouldn’t have him; he wasn’t about to take along a quitter who, as soon as the going got tough, had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia. Tempers flared, and they ended up going their separate ways: Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus; Paul chose Silas and, offered up by their friends to the grace of the Master, went to Syria and Cilicia to build up muscle and sinew in those congregations. ~Acts 15: 35-41 The Message
According to the NIV, the two friends had a “sharp disagreement.” No mention of right or wrong, still a parting of ways. A strong disagreement worlds apart from a personal falling out.
There’s no mention of anyone else. No witnesses at the scene, listening in. No room for gossip, two fellows, working towards reasonable resolution, without ripping apart the church.
It can’t have been without some heartache. Shared life, shared ministry does not shred apart absent of breaking heart.
I rummage through my memories, finding similar hurts. They are there. Whether forced by life circumstance, or as Paul and Barnabas, a strong disagreement.
Perhaps the hardest parting came through the silence, no words spoken, a gap grew wide.
Through each, grace grew up in the cracks. New relationships built, one in particular, renewed in ways I never could have imagined. The gaps, transformed for good according to His purpose.
I’m reminded of these words found in Ecclesiastes, chapter two.
“For everything there is a season. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A season of harvesting”
For Paul and Barnabas it is a season of turning away and parting.
God uses the disagreement for good. In Silas a new person is raised up to partner with Paul. Through the parting of the ways, The Gospel is spread even farther, as Paul and Barnabas, each take their teams, and go in two different directions.
God changes the workmen, but his work continues. If God had to depend on perfect people to accomplish his work,nothing would get done.
In our own broken situations, we are blinded beyond the scope of what we can see.
Squeeze that thought tightly in your hand and place it in your doubting heart!
Our limitations and imperfections, reason for us to depend on the grace of God.
Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows-he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps-harvest time! ~Mark 4:26-29 MSG
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I love this book, the concept, the stories, and the cover. The fact that I was invited to be tucked among the pages is an honor.
“If you only have one hour in the day to write, don’t spend it frustrated. Spend it writing.” ~@lisajobaker, #FMFbook
Gifts of Grace