Friday, August 15, 2008

You have to love them, but you don't have to keep them in your boat!

A few years ago, I was talking to my friend Audrey about how I was tired of Christians and the shallow, worldly way we often treat each other. (That's right, I said it. You know you've thought it too.) She said, "Jesus said we have to love them but He didn't say we have to keep them in our boat." She is a woman of few words, but when she speaks, she is like E.F.Hutton. I listen.This has been life changing for me.

What, or who, is your boat? It is your nearest and dearest. You can't fit as many people into a boat as a house. A boat is a very intimate setting, so whoever is in it with you better love you, warts and all, and vice-versa. It's not a ship. It's small and sometimes stinky and can get a little messy. You need to work together in your boat to get anywhere. If you don't row together, you are just wasting energy. Sometimes, you may have to toss someone overboard. I believe women struggle with the concept. We tend to try to keep a whole house load of people and ALL of their business in our boats. I meet so many women just burdened by people in their boats. Some of those people are trying desperately to jump, but the good intentioned woman keeps dragging those poor souls back in. Some need to be let go.

I met a beautiful woman this past week in our Sunday School class. She was asking for prayer for some co-workers who were making her life miserable. Our lesson that day was partly from Acts 15: 36 - 40.
36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

I love this passage and I believe it teaches us a valuable lesson. You see, Paul literally put Barnabus out of his boat. What is usually focused on here is the "sharp disagreement" between Paul and Barnabus. Nobody understands Paul point of view, because we know the end of the story. They had been a great pair! Oh, God had used them together mightily. You see, Barnabus had brought the newly saved Saul (Paul) to the disciples. Saul had tried to go to the disciples himself, but they were afraid of him. (Acts 9:26-27) Paul and Barnabus were together on the first missionary journey (Acts 13-14.) They were tight. Then came the "sharp disagreement," a kerfuffle, if you will. Barnabus wanted to include his cousin John Mark on the next trip and Paul was fed up with the boy. Mark had deserted them earlier and Paul was not in a forgiving mood. So, they split. It doesn't tell us in the text, but I know it was miserable and agonizing for the both of them. I know they missed each other, but the relationship was no longer the best thing for the ministry. Paul thought John Mark was useless, but Barnabus saw something worthwhile in him.

Here's my favorite part. Together they were one amazing missionary team, but separately...they were TWO great missionary teams. Twice the people reached for Jesus, twice the ground covered. Twice the greatness! If they had not split, it would have been less than God's best.

Ladies, sometimes we need to "clean house...boat." Sometimes a relationship is no longer God's best. I have cleaned out my boat lately. There are quite a few great....and not-so-great Children of God treading water around my boat. I still love them,in an agape kind of way, but we were no longer God's best for each other. I know they are happy to be released and I am glad to have room for some new boat mates. I am also glad to have room to breathe. Those other people, they will flourish without me. I will flourish without them and separately, we will storm the world for Jesus and reach more ground.

That lady in class? She is tossing those work ladies out of her boat! We are going to pray for them, but the relationship is going to change. I'm thinking I'm going to make room in mine for her. As you might have heard, I have a few openings.

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