I just finished reading 2 Timothy. I always get a little sad when I read this letter that Paul wrote to Timothy. In it, Paul tells his beloved 'son' that his time on earth is short. Timothy knew it, too. In chapter 1, verse 4, Paul writes, "Recalling your tears, I long to see you..." Can't you just imagine poor Timothy having to leave his mentor and father-figure in prison and go back to Ephesus to continue the ministry? Paul's words in chapter 4 are bittersweet about his own mortality: "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness..." Those are truly words I hope I can say with confidence when my life comes to an end!
I also found something interesting in chapter 4, verse 11. Paul names several men who have deserted him, saying that only Dr. Luke is still with him. Then he goes on to tell Timothy to "Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry."
Reading these words about Mark was a kind of "Aha!" moment for me. Back when I was reading Acts, I was disappointed when I came to chapter 15, verses 36-40. Here Luke describes a disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, and the issue is Mark. Barnabas wanted Mark to continue with them in their missionary travels, but Paul didn't. Apparently Mark had abandoned them at one point and I think Paul didn't really trust Mark. In the end, Barnabas and Mark went off on their own and we don't hear much about them again. Paul, however, continues on his missions and writes all the letters we now find in the New Testament.
I found this whole thing interesting. Obviously there were some issues Paul and Mark had to work out and it appears that they did. If Paul is telling Timothy that Mark is "helpful" in his ministry, it's clear that Mark not only grew more mature as a man and as a Christian, but Paul maybe did too. I'm sure they each learned something from their experience.
How many fellow believers have you had disagreements with? I think we can all learn a lesson from Paul and Mark. GET OVER IT! Don't let it stand in the way of furthering the Kingdom of God.
I'm gonna take this lesson to heart.