Now that Christmas is over, our thoughts quickly turn to the year ahead. The truth is January can be one of the most depressing months of the year. Credit card bills come in from all that Christmas overspending, and winter, if not already here, is rapidly approaching, which means that we have very few days over the next couple of months that will permit us to pursue all those outdoor activities that we enjoy.
Winter doesn’t have to be a dark, dreary time in our lives. In fact, the Apostle Paul in one of the last letters he ever wrote laid out some pretty good advice to his close friend, Timothy – advice that we should take, too.
Paul was in prison in Rome and he knew that the sands of time were running out on his life. Think about it. What would you say to a close friend with your last words? Any of us in similar circumstances would likely reserve what precious time we had left to deal with the most important priorities in our life.
It was no different with Paul. Paul’s final words to Timothy are found at 2 Timothy 4:9-21. Clearly, Paul knew he might not survive beyond winter, so he urged Timothy to come immediately. He asked for three things: His coat that he left in another city, his parchments (the equivalent to today’s Bible), and one last opportunity to see Mark, writer of one of the four Gospels, and someone about whom Paul had some regrets.
Interestingly, the opportunity to see Mark was number one on Paul’s list of final requests. It was very important to Paul because he once misjudged Mark’s worthiness to carry the Gospel message. We really don’t know why. Many think Mark may have become homesick while with Paul and Barnabas on a trip to Turkey. At any rate, the Bible records that Mark, “departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.” (Acts 13:13)
Paul was on fire to spread the Gospel Message and obviously could not understand how Mark could abandon the call to serve the Lord. Paul’s inability to understand the reason for Mark’s hasty departure not only strained his relationship with Mark but also with Barnabas, Mark’s uncle and Paul’s companion on his first missionary trip. Barnabas left Paul over the rift while on their second missionary trip.
The Bible tells us that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Such was the case with Paul and Barnabas. The Lord used this rift between these two great servants to double the ministry. Barnabas took Mark and headed for Cyprus while Paul teamed with Silas, who accompanied him through Syria and Cilicia. (Acts 15:39-40)
I don’t think Paul ever offered the apology to Mark that Mark was owed. That’s why I think it was one of the last things he wanted to do before he left this world. Regardless of what may have caused the rift between Paul and Mark, Paul knew he had rushed to judgment, which is why he said of Mark to Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11)
Winter is rapidly approaching here, too. We may not be in the last days of our lives, but many of us have broken relationships created by premature judgments, words we wish we could take back, actions we should not have taken.
Winter doesn’t have to be filled with dark days. Make a call to the “Mark” in your life.
- Set up a visit
- Swallow your pride
- Apologize for what you said or did.
2012 could become a very special year for the two of you.