Good Beginnings : John Mark
Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but 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.
John Mark had good beginnings; so did I.
My mother led a group of college women who gathered in our living room for worship, for fun and fellowship, and for learning more about world missions. Often she would bring in missionaries on home assignment to give her girls first-hand information. Once we welcomed into our home Mrs. F. Y. O. Ling, leader of Baptist women’s ministries in China.
It was not only Mother who gave me good beginnings. Daddy was a deacon, and a good one. He was also Sunday School superintendent, volunteer minister of music, and steadfast in his faith.
My two grandmothers and my three older siblings all pointed me in the right direction. A whole series of godly women — most of them humdrum but a few of them blessedly inspired — taught me in Sunday School and other church activities.
I started out in high school as a teacher and leader myself. Christian contemporaries, in college and at summer camps and conferences, set me good examples to follow. Then I married a girl who — like me — was already feeling God’s call toward world missions.
Have I always followed through on my good beginnings?
All too often I have disappointed God and left my fellow believers feeling deserted . . . as the Apostle Paul felt deserted when young John Mark went back home to Jerusalem. Paul wasn’t willing to give Mark a second try; Barnabas was, and that marked the end of his partnership with Paul as a missionary team.
Thank the Lord, I serve a God who gives second tries — and third and fourth and fifth. God has forgiven my sins and given me renewed opportunities to serve him, especially through my writings — again, like John Mark, who lived down his failures and became the author of the Second Gospel in our New Testament.
Good beginnings are important. Set your course in early days;
then you’ll never go astray or wander trackless in a maze.
I grew up in church, and surely that’s a good beginning place.
Early followers of Jesus made my mother’s home their base.
Peter? Andrew? Yes, I knew them, heard their stories clearly told:
all they saw and learned of Jesus in those blessed days of old.
Cousin Barnabas from Cyprus joined our congregation’s ranks.
Skilled in all the Laws of Moses, his instruction earned our thanks.
Then the elders sent him northward, sent him to investigate:
Was it true that Gentiles also found their way to heaven’s gate?
Mother sent me northward also. “Help our cousin, Mark,” she said.
So when Barnabas went sailing, I, too, went where he was led.
Good beginnings don’t insure that good will always mark your way.
I went back on what I’d promised, turning homeward one dark day.
God, who gave me good beginnings, gave me, too, a second try.
Have you read the second Gospel? Have you noticed who it’s by?
O Lord of new beginnings, forgive us for the many times we fail You and other members of the family of faith. Restore us and use us, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Copyright © 2015 by Perry Thomas