Friday, April 20, 2012

Running From God by Martin Wiles

My daughter ran for about six years and developed exercise induced asthma. I did it for one and acquired shin splints and bad knees. We even ran some 5Ks together, but she finished and was rested long before I glimpsed the finish lines. She was good enough to compete; I just did it for better health and the high. But at least I got the direction right.

John Mark-author of the gospel of Mark, wasn’t as fortunate. He had a habit of running in the wrong direction. Following Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, a young man wrapped in linen cloth followed at a distance. When Jesus’ arresters grabbed him, he disrobed and ran away naked. Tradition says it was John Mark.

Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but ran from them too. When Barnabas suggested they give him another chance on the second journey, Paul declined: Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work (Acts 15:38).

Mark had a habit of running in the opposite direction of where God instructed. I’ve tried it myself. Fortunately, Mark eventually got it right. He wrote a gospel, found his way back into Paul’s good graces and tradition says founded the church in Alexandria, Egypt.

Right or wrong Paul refused to give Mark a second chance, and this decision led him and Barnabas to part company. God’s not as unforgiving. Bad decisions, wrong pathways, and unhealthy habits haunt my past but don’t disqualify me from God’s work presently. The only hindrance is my choice to wallow in self regret and not move forward.

God’s future is always bright and filled with opportunities. Through prayer, we discover that future and by faith we enter and live it. Don’t let fear, incorrect focus, misplaced priorities and foolish choices cause you to run in the wrong direction. Seize the opportunity.

Prayer: Father God, when we’re afraid of where You’ve called us to run, strengthen our resolve to obey no matter what.