by Bailey Smith

You Don't Have to Go On!
Bailey Smith
Acts 13:13

Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

I can see young John Mark with his hands clasped together and with his arms holding his knees to his chest. He is gazing up at the star-speckled sky. The camp fire nearby sends a breath of smoke to his eyes, blurring his vision for a moment. His two companions, Paul and Barnabas, lay sleeping just beyond the weakening fire. John Mark wishes for that kind of sleep, but it eludes him in spite of all he can do.

Mark had pleaded some time before to go with these two older men on what he thought would be an exciting adventure. He had no idea it would be like this. This very day, they had faced death, hunger,. angry mobs, and worst of all for young Mark, loneliness. He is seriously disillusioned with the whole affair.

He cannot hold his thoughts back any longer. He jumps up, wakes Paul and says, "Paul, I've got blisters on my feet. I've got calluses on my hands, and my body is dirty. Paul, we need to go back. There is work to do at Jerusalem. There are responsibilities there, Jews to convert, and Gentiles to win. Paul, let's go back." Paul says to the young John Mark, "You asked to come to be my helper. John, I'm sorry I can't go back. I've put my hand to the plow and there's no turning back for me." Finally in frustration the young man looks over at his uncle and bends down on the dirt beside the blanket spread upon the ground and says, "Uncle Barnabas, could you reason with this warped fanatic? If we have traveled a mile, we have traveled ten and I just can't take it any longer. We haven't had even 2 converts today. We could have been doing more good back at Jerusalem." Barnabas looks at Paul and asks him what he thinks. Paul resolutely shakes his head and says, "No, I can't go back." Barnabas says to his young nephew, "Mark, you understand I've got to stay. I promised to ...

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