Check out the featured image! It’s incredible how punctuation marks make a difference – you can have identical sentences with differently placed punctuation marks and often you can get a completely different message, even an opposite message for that matter! Same words but different message.
The story of our lives unfold that way too.. There are times that we place a full stop and end a chapter of our lives. We decide that the full stop has been placed and thus it’s for our best that we let go of that chapter and move forward to the next chapter with a fresh start. For example if a friend or a loved one walks away we decide that God has taken them out of our lives permanently for a purpose. If it was someone that we were considering as a life partner, people often say that this was God taking away the imperfect person to bring about the perfect person. Yes, it can be true and appropriate for the situation to say that.
However, when do we know that we are putting a FULL STOP on something that God has put a SEMI COLON on? How do we know that God hasn’t hit the pause button so that he can work with the people concerned individually and prepare them to bring them back together at the right time in His way according to His perfect plan. It’s almost like a seed that is planted and from the surface of the soil, it seems that nothing is happening. We think it’s not going to grow and suddenly you see it sprouting.
I think of the friendship and partnership of Barnabas and Paul in Acts. It was Barnabas who introduced Paul to the apostles (9:27) and went back to search for him too (11:25). It is of any wonder then that Barnabas means ‘son of exhortation’ (4:36)? In fact in the list of prophets and teachers his name took first place and Saul was last at the 5th place (13:1). In the references made to their early ministry partnership Barnabas’s name was mentioned before Paul’s. Later on the switch takes place as Paul begins to head.
Barnabas was obviously strong in the Lord.. and the contention between the 2 of them happened when he insisted on taking his cousin Mark along with them. The two separated and went on different mission journeys. The books of the Bible are not necessarily in chronological order. It is believed that the events of the books of Corinthians took place afterwards and thus Paul’s reference to Barnabas is interpreted as the partnership of the two were bridged together again. Specific details of this rejoined partnership if at all, doesn’t seem to be mentioned explicitly anywhere.
Even these two godly men had a sharp dispute. It could have been disobedience or acting in the flesh by them. Yet, perhaps God allowed it so that their ‘gifts’ would be spread out to reach out to more people rather than concentrated together to the same people. I wonder if Barnabas was getting overshadowed by Paul at some stage even though they were working in sync. Or I wonder whether Barnabas was yielding to Paul as opposed to what God would have wanted to do through him. We do find these scenarios happening a lot in today’s life where one takes the reins instead of both bringing their gifts to the table.
I’m just speculating in analysis here as to what could have happened to help us realise that there are a whole lot of possibilities for the punctuation marks in the words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters of the stories of our lives. Besides if sincerely godly people have been friends it’s obvious that God would indeed bring them back to a friendship. Paul would have surely reconciled with Barnabas. After all wasn’t it Paul himself who got the revelation to write:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone – Romans 12:18
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification – Romans 14:19
Sometimes God weeds out some people from our lives with a full stop – those that will come in the way of our growth in Him or who will be the weeds that steal the ‘spiritual nutrients’ or will be the thorns to distract us from our calling. They are the ones who hinder and thus not be brought back to our lives. However there are times when God places a momentarily comma or a bit more lengthier semi colon to a friendship or partnership for a purpose. God’s plans are always to give us a hope and a future and there is always purpose behind the scenes during the pregnant pause!
Just surrender to His will, His time and way for His purpose to prevail. We may not always know what is going on but let’s seek His direction and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. He knows what’s best for you and me. Are you willing to trust Him and put your hand in HIS?
Let’s let God place the punctuation marks in the right places of the sentences of our lives and see the PERFECT story unfold 🙂