Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GET COLD FEET (10/12/17)
- TITLE: Grace did it.
By Dave Walker
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Peter was my hero... he was everything I was not. Strong, bronzed and athletic, an untidy mop of black hair blending down the sides with a shaggy beard, he strode among the group, proclaiming, in a strong, strident voice, his strong, strident opinions. He exuded a self-assurance that was infectious. So… I hung around him. That's how I came to be in the Garden that fateful night. Even then, while we all ran when Jesus was arrested, only Peter was bold enough to follow him to the courtyard of Caiphas' palace. I was hiding, naked and trembling, behind locked doors.
It was after Jesus' ascension that I saw Peter at his best, though. We waited in the upper room as He had told us. Suddenly, our hair was tousled and our sleeves fluttered. Starting as a soft moan, the wind grew till it roared, sweeping the scrolls off their stands and tugging wildly at our tunics. Dancing, flickering flames lit every face as the Holy Spirit filled each person. Peter was fired up and eloquent. I followed him everywhere to catch some of his fervour.
Later, Paul and my cousin, Barnabas came to Jerusalem, bringing gifts from the Antioch church. I'd never met anyone like Barnabas. Clean shaven and clear-eyed, he conveyed a faith and confidence in you that made you want to listen and obey, even when he was disciplining with an uncompromising word.
"We're going back to Antioch, Mark." I felt the weight of his strong arms on my shoulders. "Why not come with us?"
I loved being with Barnabas in Antioch. It meant being around Paul, too, which was a bit intimidating. Nevertheless, when they planned an extended mission, I quickly volunteered. I wanted to prove myself -- emulate my heros, Peter and Barnabas -- not a good reason to go on a mission, I discovered.
From the start it was tough. The boat rolled and yawed frighteningly on the way to Cyprus, creaking and groaning as if it was feeling as sick as I was. On the island, Paul was direct and confrontational with those who opposed the gospel. I hated conflict.
It was the boat trip back to the mainland that settled it for me. This was not the glamorous mission I thought it was going to be. I was sick, intimidated and ready to throw in the towel. No more confrontation, please. I saw the disappointment in Barnabas' eyes and the disgust in Paul's, but I had cold feet. I couldn't carry on, and took off back to Jerusalem.
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A few years later, I was in Antioch. Barnabas had taken me under his wing, as was his custom, but I'd not recovered from my failure on the last missionary trip.
"If you fall off a horse, Mark, the best thing to do is get right back on again. Come on our next trip with us. We're going to visit all the churches we planted last time."
I was keen, but then I heard Paul and cringed. "What, take that loser? He let us down, Barnabas. We can't trust him."
"Will you hold that against him for the rest of his life? Not allow him to be used by God? He has potential, Paul. He made a mistake, but deserves a second chance."
"We can't allow him to jeopardise the mission. I say no!"
The conversation was heated. Then Barnabas was by my side, his eyes ablaze. "Come on, Mark. You've lots to give. We'll go on our own mission back to Cyprus. Are you up to it?"
Was I just? With Barnabas? My heart soared. Someone believed in me, even if I'd lost faith in myself.
The rest is history. Grace triumphed over judgement. I went from strength to strength. After my mission to Cyprus with Barnabas, I visited Peter once more, gleaning all I could about the life of Jesus and wrote it in a book that is read to this day.
I ended up helping Paul when he was imprisoned and, (with God's sense of humour), he even asked Timothy to send for me to help him, acknowledging to Timothy, my usefulness.
I learned a valuable lesson in my life's journey. I didn't have to emulate Peter in his boldness, or Paul with his confrontational courage, or even Barnabas with his extraordinary gift of encouragement. I was a helper and a scribe. I just had to be me.
How about you?
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