by: Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer Columnist Barb Lissow
March 3, 2021
Forgiven and Forgotten
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 89:11
The older I get, the more things I have to remember…the times that I’ve been blessed, and the times that are better forgotten. Although the times that are better forgotten cannot be undone, they can be lessons on what not to do or say in the future….mistakes not to be repeated. But if you are like me, sometimes it’s not easy to let loose of those memories of bad decisions, angry outbursts, shame and regret. Does God use our failures and weaknesses for His good purpose? Absolutely!
In the book of Acts, Luke tells of how the young disciple John Mark accompanies Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey in AD 47 from the Syrian Antioch church (So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus. Acts 13:4). While Scripture does not give the blow-by-blow description of what happened, John Mark soon departs the missionaries and returns to Jerusalem—in other words, John Mark “bailed out” on that critical calling. Perhaps it was too hard to be persecuted for sharing the Gospel message; perhaps it was too difficult to take orders from the older missionaries; perhaps he questioned his faith; perhaps he was just homesick.
The missionary pair concluded their difficult journey and returned to Antioch a year later, then traveled to a crucial meeting with the Jerusalem Council to report of their successes and failures in spreading the Gospel. Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch with the Council’s blessings for continued missionary work, and prepared to depart on their second missionary journey. In Acts 15:36-40, we read: ”After some days, Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’ Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to do the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.”
Barnabas’ desire was to forgive and include Mark in the second missionary journey. Paul’s response was definitely a strong opposition to taking the one “who had deserted them…” How difficult would that have been for the two men who had been through so much together—to argue bitterly and split company? All because of a failure of one young disciple? With a repentant heart, Mark must have learned mightily from his mission failure because in his lifetime, God made him a respected Christian leader. Even Paul, later in one of his prison stays and his second epistle to Timothy, asked for Mark, saying, “He is useful to me for ministry.” More importantly, our awesome God inspired Mark to write one of the four Gospels of the New Testament!
My friends, it doesn’t do any good to brood about our past sins or failures; wishing we could do something over is an exercise in futility. Each day is a new gift, and with God’s help, we are given second chances over and over again. All those times that are “better forgotten” fade away when we make Jesus the center of our existence. Our Lord has forgiven and forgotten; I praise Him for that every day. We can look forward to and live in the blessings of Christ Jesus, confident, restored, and safe in His precious presence.
Thankful in Christ’s forgiveness, Barb Lissow
Zion Lutheran Church, Burley, Idaho
Sunday Worship Sermons by Rev. Alex Lissow are now available on Zion Lutheran Burley’s Facebook page!