A Lady in Waiting

This week’s Tuesday at Ten prompt is patience, and because of the time of year, my thoughts went to Mary. How patient she’d had to be throughout her pregnancy, knowing she was giving birth to the Son of God! What would He look like; the same as other babies or different? Did she search the pages of our Old Testament for clues?

And when He was born, Simeon came along – Simeon who’d had the revelation that he wouldn’t die until he’d seen the long-awaited Christ. Simeon cradled the babe in his arms, calling Him Saviour and the glory of all the Jews! Then he spoke to Mary: “A sword will pierce through your own soul also.” How did she feel when she heard that?

Words are so powerful – the negative and the positive, and those must have stayed with her all through Jesus’ life. We don’t hear anything of Joseph after the incident when Jesus was twelve years old. Perhaps Joseph died, and Mary wondered if that was the piercing Simeon spoke of.

Years passed and Jesus began His earthly ministry. Mary heard about the crowds and the demands on His time. Thinking Him out of His mind to accept it, she set out to speak to Him. The sheer volume of people made it impossible to reach Him, but finally, she caught someone’s attention. She may have heard them relaying the message, and heard Him say: “Who are My mother and My brothers?” Sting. Surely this must be the moment?

She couldn’t have imagined how bad it would get, the depth of her pain as she saw her Son lifted up on a cross. But that piercing of soul, that depth of pain, eclipsed by the joy of seeing Him alive. Unashamedly falling before Him, reaching out to cling to Him, even to one of His feet! He lived! He’d conquered death! This was unparalleled – awesome – daunting. What did it all mean? She knew only the words He spoke: “Tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me,” but what would happen next, or how everything would fall into place, she couldn’t tell.

When we know only the next step, let’s be reassured that God knows our destination. Let’s keep those important words people have spoken over us and think on them, wonder at them, in the knowledge that God’s in control.

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Memory-Verse: Proverbs 25:28

It was lovely to be back in church today, after a week off last Sunday when the clocks went forward and my memory let me down.

 

Our pastor talked about anger and how as Christians, we don’t have an excuse. We can’t blame what we were born into because when we’re born again, the Holy Spirit lives in us and His fruit (E.G. self-control) is available to us. It’s great to have a pastor who’s courageous enough to preach truth and give us these reminders.

 

I can think of a time when something I’ve done in anger has led to people saying hurtful things about me, but what made them say those things? What gave them that impression? To my shame, it was the way I acted, I realised as the life in these words hit home: “If you cannot control your anger, you are as helpless as a city without walls, open to attack” (Proverbs 25:28).

 

If they hit home for you too, why not ask God for His forgiveness and His help in the future?

Welcomed

“Aristarchus, who is a prisoner like me, sends greetings.  So does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas.  You have received instructions about Mark.  If he comes to you, welcome him” – Colossians 4:10 (God’s Word Translation)

 

I love this verse, but if I didn’t know who Mark was, I would probably have skimmed over it without a second thought.  Ok; you’ve seen he’s the cousin of Barnabas, so let me tell you about them both.  Barnabas means ‘Son of encouragement’, and that’s appropriate because he was the one to encourage Paul when Paul first became a Christian.  Paul (or Saul, as he was then) had a famous conversion on the road to Damascus.  He was on his way to find Christians and put them in prison.  He even had letters approving their arrests, but he saw a light from heaven and fell to the ground, and Jesus told him:  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5).  From then on, Saul put his all into showing people that Jesus is the Christ, but when he went back to Jerusalem, the Christians were suspicious.  What they saw was a man in authority, who’d once arrested Christians, now claiming to be a believer.  No one wanted to give him a chance, except for Barnabas, who persuaded others to meet with Saul and talk to him.

 

Barnabas and Paul remained close friends.  When they went on their first mission trip, they took Mark (who’s sometimes known as John) along with them, but for whatever reason, that didn’t work out.  Perhaps Mark was very young and the homesickness felt too much for him; perhaps he was afraid of opposition; I don’t know, but he went back home to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13).  Paul saw this as desertion and must have felt extremely let-down because when Barnabas suggested giving Mark another chance and taking him on a later trip, Paul wouldn’t hear of it.  They disagreed so strongly that they decided to go their separate ways – Barnabas taking Mark, and Paul taking Silas (Acts 15:36-40).

* * *

So now you know who Mark is, and perhaps you can see why I love the verse:  “You have received instructions about Mark.  If he comes to you, welcome him”.  A couple of questions come to mind:  Why would the Christians in Colossae not welcome him?  How would they know about his past?  They must have heard it from Paul.  I’m not saying Paul should have kept his mouth shut.  When you’re with family in the Lord – people you’re close to, you’ll talk about trips you’ve been on; things that happened; people who’ve disappointed you, but Paul telling them in this letter to welcome him takes humility.  He’s admitting he was wrong about Mark.  In fact, he writes somewhere else that Mark has helped him in his work (2 Timothy 4:11), so they made up.  Isn’t it great to read happy endings?

 

One more question:  Why did the Colossians need instructing to welcome him?  Well, sadly, perhaps some wouldn’t have done so without being told.  When somebody’s hurt a person we love and respect, it’s in our earthly natures to treat them with suspicion and distrust, not to welcome them with open arms, but God’s nature is very different.

 

Something to think about:  Are you suspicious of someone?  Do you need to ‘Welcome them’?