Failure isn’t final. A man in the Bible who experienced that firsthand was John Mark—an assistant to Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). We don’t know all that his role entailed, but it likely involved doing behind-the-scenes work like buying supplies and cooking meals, along with some public ministry. He handled some of the day-to-day responsibilities of life so that Paul and Barnabas could focus on their mission of proclaiming the good news of Jesus.
Shortly into their journey, however, John Mark bailed on Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13). We can only speculate as to the reason he left. Maybe he got homesick. Maybe he got sick of being simply a helper. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that when Paul and Barnabas were counting on him, he let them down.
Some time later, Paul and Barnabas planned to go back and check on the new believers they had led to Jesus during their initial missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to take John Mark again, but Paul would have nothing to do with it. He was against the idea because of John Mark’s past failure. The two men disagreed so strongly over the issue that they parted ways. Barnabas took John Mark with him while Paul asked Silas to join him (Acts 15:36-41).
It must have been tough on John Mark to see the relational fallout he had caused, but he chose to minister faithfully with Barnabas. Even Paul later changed his tune. In a letter to Timothy, the apostle wrote, “Bring [John] Mark with you when you come, for he will be helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).
Earlier, John Mark clearly failed to come through. But his life shows us that just because he had failed in the past didn’t mean God couldn’t use him in the future.
In God’s eyes, failure isn’t final.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Numbers 13:1–14:4
Read Psalm 51 to see how David realized that with God failure isn’t final.
Do you believe God can’t use you because of a past failure? What do you think John Mark or Barnabas or Paul would say to you?