AKA…. “Staying when it would make more sense to leave”
There are definitely some relationships you shouldn’t have or should no longer have…
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
I believe that God creates certain people for certain people. I believe that their destinies are glued together and that when relationships are torn apart, the bond being much stronger if found in God than the people on either side of it, a piece of you remains fastened to a piece of them.
Any finishing carpenter will tell you that tearing pieces of wood glued together never separates at the bond itself, but takes a layer of the material with it.
It is true that when the first marriage fails the second bond will be more difficult because you are no longer dealing with smooth surfaces (if indeed you started with a smooth surface in the first place), now you are attempting to glue broken to broken. Friendships, marriages, business, and yes… your local church.
I don’t know much, but I do know this:
If you have an escape clause, you will have more than your share of opportunities to use it.
Paul the Apostle was radically saved on the road to Damascus but God had a special relationship in mind for him. Paul (Saul at the time) was having trouble attending church (so to speak) because, well, he had spent his enormous energies so far dragging the family and friends of the church folk off to prison…. until Barnabas found him.
Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”. I hope you have someone in your life like that? My wife is my Barnabas. I’m driven and insane and brilliant and an idiot all at the same time, and she takes my hand and my heart and accepts me the way I am. She is the reason I get out of bed in the mornings, but I find myself waking up in the night and looking over to her side of the bed to make sure she doesn’t do the “smart thing” and leave. I laugh and say “she fell for it!” and go back to sleep.
Barnabas couldn’t leave a man behind either and Paul’s future influence was tied to him because God had put them together. Barnabas took Paul and signed for him by introducing him to the early church so his miraculous story could be told. They accepted Paul because they knew Barnabas was a good man.
Then one day…..
they had a sharp disagreement about a judgement call and parted ways. Barnabas’ cousin John Mark (author of the book of Mark in the Gospels) had deserted them on a previous trip and Barnabas wanted him included again. Paul disagreed. I suspect that the church probably sided with Paul because he and his new partner were commended by them all before they left, but Barnabas just took John Mark and left to minister elsewhere.
I could say that Barnabas used to be in charge of the pair but somewhere along the way we see Paul’s name appearing in lights more and more. There was a God ordained destiny on Paul and it was becoming pretty obvious that he should be in charge. Paul was not the Heart-Guy like Barnabas was, but the sorts of things he had to live through and decisions he had to make would have destroyed him if he was.
A Heart-Leader’s greatest gift is also their greatest weakness. Paul had to make a tough choice to exclude John Mark (perhaps for persecution/safety issues, or maybe he just wasn’t ready yet?), Barnabas just couldn’t say no to the person right in front of him. Paul was looking behind John Mark to the millions of people God would impact through the subsequent years and made the hard decision.
We never hear of Barnabas again in the New Testament.
I have watched people leave God ordained relationships from marriage to the local church God placed them in my whole life. No one has ever EVER said to me “God wants me to stay but I’m leaving anyways!”
They share a common fate. They lose their effectiveness in the world.
Paul meets Timothy in the next chapter in Acts and the work of God goes on.
In a letter late in Paul’s life to his spiritual son Timothy, he asks him to send John Mark as he needed his help and support because so many people had left him and he wanted to finish his race strong.
John Mark might have blown it, but God restored him in the end.
Paul went on to find God-given partnerships and died bringing the Gospel to the lost.
Barnabas drops off the map.
God has made you for people and people for you. Lifelong people. Who are they? It is likely they are in your life right now, but maybe you haven’t picked up their option yet?