People need a second chance – maybe a third, fourth, or tenth. I really appreciate people like Barnabas. I love his heart, his stance, and his ability to stand in the gap for others. Even in questionable circumstances, he affirmed, challenged, believed, and opened doors. We need men and women like that – people willing to give or facilitate a second chance.
You might remember a short conversation between Paul and Barnabas recorded in Acts 15:36-41. Paul suggested to Barnabas that together they visit all the towns where they’d previously preached. What a great idea! There was only one problem. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them and Paul was dead set against it. So what was the big deal about? John Mark had deserted Paul and Barnabas in Pamphylia returning to Jerusalem on an earlier journey. To use Paul’s phrase, John Mark was a “deserter” and didn’t finish the work. Apparently, the disagreement was so sharp, Paul and Barnabas split up. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed for Cyrus. Paul took Silas and traveled through Syria and Cilicia.
I don’t fault Paul. He’d been burned, deserted, and disappointed by John Mark before. For one reason or another, he didn’t want to take a second chance. He chose Silas, a proven member of the team. But then there’s Barnabas and he was present for the previous desertion. Instead of writing John Mark off, he decided to give him another opportunity. He’s a man of second chances – it’s his specialty. In fact, I remember when Saul (Paul) was trying to get a hearing with the disciples, it was Barnabas who spoke on his behalf – introducing and vouching for him. That’s the kind of man I want to be – building, vouching, encouraging, mentoring, and equipping the one in need of the second chance.
Christians are infamous for shooting their wounded or giving up on the “failures” around them. When did God ever tell us to give up on those who have disappointed us? Real ministry happens in the second chance. We administer grace in the second chances. There are plenty of people all around us suffering in brokenness derived from failure – they’ve disappointed others. Who is willing to stand with them? They just need someone to walk and take the journey (to care, forgive, and administer grace) of the second chance.