In the past few months, I have discovered that I have a favorite Biblical character. I've always had people that I liked to read about but if someone were to come up to me and say, "Hey, who's your favorite?", I probably would have had to think about it.
Most people, if you ask them, will say David or one of the Apostles. Some of them will pull the "well, duh" approach and say Jesus, which not to say that Jesus isn't awesome, but I think we all can understand that when that question is asked, you're looking aside from the obvious answer of Jesus. Or you'll get Moses or Noah, maybe if you're on the feminist side (like me) you'll get big names like Esther or Mary.
I have fallen in love with a guy that is seldom mentioned, maybe a few times in the New Testament, but has a depth that few can understand. He's popped up in my life on four occasions in the past six months, whenever I'm feeling discouraged.
For those of you not familiar with John Mark, let me give you the abbreviated version. John Mark was the Biblical days version of an AIM worker. He went along with Paul on a missions trip. But he was young and he got homesick and left. Paul felt that he was a failure and wanted nothing to do with him. John Mark did fail. He didn't complete his commitment to help serve the mission to which he was appointed. Several years later, Paul ended up asking specifically for John Mark, saying that he was good for his ministry. There was a second chance; a chance to redeem himself for what he had given up on before.
In case you didn't catch on, I think I love John Mark because there has been pretty much nobody for me to turn to when the waves of pain and twinges of failure hit me. It doesn't happen as often anymore, but every once in a while, I'll start hating myself. Hating that I had to leave. Hating that I'm hearing good things that are going on in Paraguay. And not so good things. And I'm not there to have any part in it. I recently found out that there was a minor crisis with the missionaries about a week after I left. I haven't decided if God knew that I wouldn't have been able to help or handle any of it, or if I royally screwed up and left when I was needed most. There's probably truth to both sides of this. I have friends who have been on the AIM field, but they all completed their terms and came home. I didn't. I have nobody to relate to.
But then, when all hope seems lost, John Mark gets brought up. When I was in Paraguay, my mom told me the story. Right after I found out I was coming home, Debora brought him up to me. He was preached about during my last Sunday there. And the pastor mentioned him on Sunday night. There have probably been other times somewhere in there that I forgot. I have worn out those parts of my Bible, because finally, I have someone who understands. I can't go over and chat him up, but it's helpful to know that someone went through this and survived. Not only did he survive, but he finished later.
God understands all. When I get to heaven, I can't wait to see God, because, well, he's God. But honestly, I'd like to think that when I get there I'll get to kick it with John Mark for a while, too. I think we'd have some awesome stories to swap.