I read a story in the Bible today about Paul and Barnabas in Act 15. In Acts 15:36-40, Paul and Barnabas have a disagreement. Paul wanted to go follow up with some new believing towns and Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them. Paul seemed to think this was a bad idea, as he felt John Mark had not proven to be very reliable. This disagreement was so sharp that they decided to part ways; Barnabas took John Mark, and Paul left with Silas.
Have you been in a situation like this before? I know some people who have, and I’ve been in a few, myself – on both ends of it I believe, even.
Some examples: maybe you have a wayward child trying to figure things out, a boyfriend or girlfriend you’re hoping will find their way, a parent who you feel is resisting God (for the record, just go ahead and say ANYONE that you feel is resisting God) and you’re just trying to help them along, but it seems so fruitless or taxing sometimes.
Maybe this relationship steals your peace. Maybe it keeps you up some nights, every night. Maybe it stresses you out, causes you to worry, or gives you anxiety.
Maybe this relationship needs what Paul and Barnabas needed in their moment of disagreement.
In their situation, Paul didn’t seem to trust John Mark to help with building up the churches they had established, but Barnabas wanted to give him an opportunity to be restored because he believed he was sincere. They were both passionate about their beliefs and what they thought was right, and their goals were clearly a bit different and when they parted ways, the Bible says in Acts 15:40, “but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.”
I was really struck by this, because even though you can see the side of both Paul and Barnabas, and though they were surely upset with each other, they parted ways they were commended to the grace of the Lord… It got me thinking that some of these relationships with have… maybe we need to do our own commending to the Lord..?
There isn’t a single place we can go that is away from the hand of God. We might not feel Him sometimes, but He’s always within reach. In the same way He is there for us, He is there for those around us. No matter what those we feel are lost choose, they are never beyond God’s grace and too far for Him to reach. It might not happen the way we like, and we might just have to commit them over to Him and say “God, I hand them over to you. They’re beyond my control, but they’re not beyond Yours. They’re beyond my graces, but they’re still within Yours.”
I especially believe this when these disagreements or conflicts turn into arguments or fights. The Bible is very clear to not be controlled by your anger, or to sin in your anger. And even though it says to not let the sun go down on your anger (Eph 4:26-27) it also says to search your hearts when you are angry and in your bed (Psalm 4:4), to which I equate taking a moment to pause and think about things rather than fighting viciously through something.
Conflict that goes bad never produces anything good. People say things they don’t mean and emotions run the show. We are not to be controlled by our emotions and be led by our tongues. We are to be Spirit led and sometimes, the Spirit leads you apart from people.
We are just people. We can only do so much, even through the Spirit, there are just going to be some people who choose not to listen and to run from what God is speaking to them through us. And that’s okay. God has a plan for that. His grace still covers them.
They might not have accepted that yet, but He is capable of much more than we are. He is capable of reaching the heart, and sometimes we have to just step back and let God be God of, not just our lives, but the lives of others. We are people and nothing more. He is God and nothing less.
Let that sink in for a second. It’s frustrating in a way, to know it’s time to give up control and trying to reach someone on our own strength and power and allow God the room to shape and move someone, but at the same time, it’s refreshing to know I’ve done all I can do in my power to reach a person and know that seeds are planted and God’s doing work.
He’s always working. The Holy Spirit is always seeking. Jesus IS to find the lost, and to save the lost. The Lord is fighting for them like you wouldn’t believe because you’ve never fought that hard in your life. You never could and never will, because the fight is one only He can fight. The battle isn’t even about us, it’s about Satan and God, but God has won and will continue to win back His children. He is jealous for you, and me, and everyone we know. We are His and He’s tackling the battle to win us back, always.
If you’re in a spot with someone – a parent, child, friend, romantic interest, maybe – prayerfully seek the Lord in this. Maybe it’s time to take a step back, commit them into the care and grace of Jesus, and let God be God in their life.
There was a time in my own life that I was very close to someone, spiritually and emotionally, who once the conflict between us was too great, he decided it was best for us to part ways. Neither of us were really wrong in our hearts, but we were in our actions toward each other, and that’s why, at the time, I didn’t understand, but there was a moment, I’m sure, where he (being more mature than I at the time) realized there was nothing more He could do to change me and the work was up to God. However, with him in my life the way that we were, it was going to severely limit the work the Holy Spirit would do.
I don’t know that that’s the way it happened, but I do know there was a real moment when he said to me that there was nothing more he could do to help me, that it was up to God. We were in our anger. We were sinning in our anger at that. We needed to part ways. I was commended to the grace of God and the grace of God indeed find me, and revealed to me the very same truth: it was time to part ways.
To this day, that was one of the greatest experiences of my walk with the Lord because by removing my crutches, God set me up for my purpose. The crutches I kept leaning on were more of limitations rather than support.
Will everyone we let go of find their way? Maybe not. But don’t ever doubt the ways of the Lord, for they are good and they are right and He is always for us – He is always for you, and He is always for me, and He is always for them.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you had to let go of a relationship and let God take the control?
Please feel free to share below!