My pastor spoke today of Harriet Tubman. Said she was a die hard to her passion to save others; her way or the high way. I didn’t know this, but apparently, she would put a pistol to someone’s head that wanted to give up; the head of the very person she was trying to help escape. Kind of reminds me of the Apostle Paul. I have always imagined him to be a very determined, head strong, focused man on a mission; God’s mission, but a mission none-the-less.
In Bible School, I did a paper on a comparison of Paul vs. Barnabas. Barnabas had a different approach. In Acts 15:37-39, we get a glimpse of a disagreement that ultimately ended with Paul and Barnabas heading different directions. The problem? Due to some poor choices on Mark’s behalf, Paul didn’t think Mark was worthy of ministry, whereas Barnabas believed Mark deserved a second chance. Paul’s attitude was, ‘my way or the high way.’ So they separated. While Barnabas and Paul are not shown to be ministering together again, we do get glimpses that they must have at least reconciled and Paul reconsidered his decision about Mark (2 Tim 4:11).
Of course, with an onlookers perspective, it’s easy to appreciate both men’s approach. I can appreciate the focused approach of a man determined to cut a path towards God for others. However, I can also appreciate Barnabas’ approach of not giving up on those who perhaps were not quite as bold as Paul. Perhaps Barnabas’ seen a young man who was willing to step forward and offer assistance, but needed a mentor before getting to the determined mindset of Paul. Or perhaps Barnabas’ was just too determined himself to give up on a young man that was his own flesh and blood. In either case, it worked out in the end. Mark stepped up to the plate and eventually even Paul considered him worthy of ministry.
We had a guest speaker in one Sunday that reminded me that maybe Barnabas was onto something. This man spoke of an incident in which he had assisted in feeding thousands of people after the 9/11 attacks. He spoke of many people showing up to offer assistance. In fact, he shared how a homosexual male couple showed up to help. This Pastor could have turned them away, but he didn’t. He gave them some pretty specific direction about keeping their mouths shut regarding their sexual orientation and not freaking people out with ‘gay’ behaviour, then sent them out to help. He also shared how these young men continued to want to be a part of the team and if I recall correctly, were eventually delivered of homosexuality.
The thing that amazes me when I hear stories like this is that you know this Pastor didn’t agree with their sexual stance, however he looked beyond that and saw, ‘hey, these are two sets of very useful hands.’ Then, he found a way to put them to work, allowing God’s grace to direct him. To hear him tell the story, I was cringing at how he spoke to these young men, however they didn’t get hung up his words. They did what they were told and went to work. Meanwhile, God did the work of redirecting their thought processes.
I can’t help but be overwhelmed by God’s grace. We have a God that is telling us straight out, “One day, I will draw the line. There are simply some things that won’t be allowed if you want to spend eternity with me. However, don’t fret, my son. I’ll lead you. I’m going to help rid you of not only the habits that really irritate me, but also the desire to do them. That’s exactly why I came to earth as a man and shed my blood. Not only so that my perfect blood would cover your sins, but so that I could pour out my perfect holy spirit and offer it to you. You see, I knew you could never do this alone. Now quit worrying. When you fall, I’ll help you get back up. I did all this to be with you, not to cast you out.”
Isn’t He amazing? He really does have this all worked out! I am so hopeful for what He has in store. Everyday, more and more, He continues to reveal to me how I may see the stinky, stench of a poopy situation, but He sees an awesome fertilizer for His garden of glory! Please don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m walking around with rose colored glasses and refusing to see the reality of the death, sin, anger, and hatred that still exists in this world. It’s just that God keeps telling me, grab a hold of HOPE and don’t let go! We need to start looking and seeing that God is working way more than we give Him credit for. He is coming back. He is coming SOON! I’m willing to bet He expects us to be excited to see Him. The best way I know to get excited is take a good look around and see that He’s been here all along. Working behind the scenes planning something really, really awesome! Open my eyes to see how He just worked in that person, and this person, and oh my goodness, even that one over there who wasn’t even looking for Him! Wow! Turns out there’s a whole lot more seeds germinating here than I at first realized!
Don’t you just love a fresh garden? 🙂