A Second Chance

"Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." (2 Timothy 4:11)

Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher, once remarked that "One should always keep an open mind, but not so open that one's brains fall out." To give irresponsible people a second (or third, or hundredth) chance is often to risk the loss of some gray matter—or worse. But it can also be the right and sensible thing to do.

Mark, later to author the gospel of Mark, had accompanied his uncle, Barnabas, and the Apostle Paul on a ministry journey that had taken them into Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). But for reasons unknown, he abandoned the group just when they were to enter the dangerous midlands and returned to his home in Jerusalem. Paul could not forgive him, and when Barnabas suggested they take Mark on the next journey, there was such a disagreement between them that Barnabas and Paul parted company (see Acts 15:36-39). Mark was out—until, from within a Roman prison, Paul opened his mind and gave him a second chance.

Sometimes we decide that a person is to be kept out of our circle. He wronged me . . . She betrayed my confidence . . . They have proven to be unworthy of my trust. And we think we are being strong in holding to our resolution. But stubbornness is a weak imitation of strength. Dostoyevsky said, "The cleverest person of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month." Paul was wise enough finally to call himself a fool about this issue, and he called for Mark to rejoin him. Our opinion about another person never contains the whole truth, or the only truth.

My dad once relented on a family rule about no competitive sports on Sundays to let me play in the city championship hockey game. As he drove me to the rink, I asked why he had changed his mind. "Sometimes we make up rules just to keep from having to make decisions," he said. Our resolve not to forgive serves the same purpose. Then we do not need to re-think a decision, re-do a relationship or re-live a hurt. Sometimes we refuse to allow *ourselves* a second chance because we lack the courage to try, to risk failing again. We lack hope.

A second chance made sense to Paul, and he offered it. It meant everything to Mark, and he took it. Both found that it is never too late to be what you might have been.

[ By Dr. Michael A. Halleen -- from Mikey's Funnies (funnies-owner@lists.MikeysFunnies.com) ]


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