"When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the followers. But they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe he was a true follower. Then Barnabas helped him by taking him to the apostles. He explained how Saul had seen the Lord and how the Lord had spoken to him. Barnabas also said that when Saul was in Damascus, he had spoken bravely in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:26-27 CEV)"
I can remember the first time I set eyes upon the man who would become my Barnabas, that true friend to whom no other would compare and who would have faith in God's movement in my life even before the concept had developed in my own mind and heart. The relationship that has blossomed from that first meeting in that tiny little office in the warehouse of Orchard Grove has been one that has never stagnated even thought circumstances and movement in both of our lives have caused time to pass between our once frequent fellowship with each other. If ever there was a man I would most want to be like, it would be him. A man secure in God's hands, sensitive to the paths God would lead him on. As he has watched me grow in my faith, I have been inspired and awed by the growth of God in his.
Friday was one of those days I have been abundantly blessed, because I got to spend some time with Barnabas….there is never really an agenda to our talks it seems, just true fellowship in the work that God has burdened both our hearts within the journey to the fullness of the reward of Heaven's bounty. A David amongst the faithful, a man in full borne pursuit of God's heart, and a leader who is the reflection of a servant.
I come away from those meetings more blessed than I went in and I see the fruit of God's blessings in his life as I see in my own. It is always more empowering, more rewarding and more real to hear the sight of God that another sees in you than trying to expose that by yourself. It is not the speaking "Christianized" English, though we do speak the language of God when we speak of our lives and how He is moving in them……it is not the edification from another that exposes the grace and mercy that God has given through the sacrifice of His Son upon the cross of our sins. My Barnabas, much like Paul's, has called me to task for some things I have held when viewing the church, fellowship and others. He has given me pause to reflect upon what made me decide those opinions I held and spoke of a biblical truth that isn't just written on the pages of some ancient tome but lived, breathed and developed by God into the text He has left His children to read and live.
After my telling him that I was done with the 'organized' church, it is him who told me of Mosaic A2, a church plant that his home church was sending out into the 'wilds' of Ann Arbor to be a painting of God's truth in an intellectual, cerebral place……and why I went to its inaugural service and have gone ever since. It is my Barnabas who recommended Soul Quest and spoke to the leadership of Orchard Grove of the calling that was so clearly placed upon a redeemed sinner. It was this brother who has challenged, edified and strengthened me through the trials of a divorce, rejection and self-defeat; speaking not of disappointment but of the grander things that God has so clearly placed upon my heart…..he has taught me what 'being faithful' means.
My children love this real man, this godly man, and are jealous of the time that I spend from time to time with him. He was there when my daughter was hurt at OCC and calmed the children down as I came running to help (I was working in demolition in the sanctuary). He was there when I married Kristy. He was there when I told him at the bus that was taking us back to our hotels for the night that God had called me to "be a pastor" and was my interviewer for the pastoral care ministry.
He answered the phone when I struggled with disbelief in my 'worthiness' to continue with Awakened Hearts, He answered the phone when I struggled through the difficulties of being a true Christian through the divorce and was there to continue to drive home the dream, the purpose and the delight of God's purposed call.
Through this all, he has taught me that it is not the man (or woman) who does the work that should be glorified but the God to whom the work has been done for. That we are all a body, maybe different as hands are from feet, but all connected to the body for the glorification of God. And when he told me of the things that God is doing in his life, I could reflect the pleasure and the glory that God feels at the dedication and humility of this man who only desires to be what God has equipped him to be.
Today I got to be a Barnabas to my Paul…..
And encourage him to be that which God has equipped, developed and shaped him to be.
Look out world……..this man knows how to truly love!
And against that there is no defense.