“He cannot come with us!” Paul insisted. “He is a coward and of no use to the ministry.”
Barnabas responded, “You may have given up on him, but God has not.”
Paul was still resolute. “You cannot force my hand, Barnabas. I will only bring people on whom I can depend. He is not welcome on this journey to share the faith.”
“Then neither am I. It is your decision, Paul. God has given you the direction of the journey. Let us part in peace. When the church feared you, by God’s grace I came to you and showed them that you would do great work for the kingdom of God. God has the same call on John Mark.”
Paul hesitated. “So be it then. I hope you are right my old friend, though I cannot believe it myself.” Thus Paul and Barnabas parted ways.
Eventually Paul and John Mark ended up in prison together in Rome, and Paul found his young friend’s true worth in Christ as a faithful servant. John Mark had written the Gospel of Mark and proved himself anything but a coward as he and Paul faced the daily rigors of prison. Through the toughest of times, Mark stayed the course, which Paul acknowledged in a letter to Timothy shortly before his death.
Acts 15:35–41; 2 Timothy 4:11
God often brings trying situations our way to demonstrate one of two truths: He will use trials to show us how far we have come in our spiritual development, or he will allow problems into our lives to show us exactly where we could use some more growth. John Mark’s transformation from an apparent coward to a committed follower reminds us that spiritual growth is a process. We may point to past failures where we wish we could have been stronger. But actions in the past do not have to affect our future. Like Mark, do you need a second chance to show your commitment to Christ? Pray for opportunities that will help you grow spiritually.