Stones; December 17, 2021

Psalm 118:22-23 The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is of course a passage that Jesus quoted about Himself. (Mat­thew 21:42) At the same time, it applies much more broadly. God’s judgments and evaluations are not the same as man’s, and we should never forget it. Even Paul essentially wrote Mark off after he left the group on Paul’s first missionary journey, so strongly that when Barnabas wanted to give Mark another chance, it led to a split between Paul and Barnabas, and Paul took Silas with him instead. (Acts 15:37-40) As it turned out, God used that to multiply the work, but Mark was restored to the point that he was the one who transcribed Peter’s memories of Jesus, writing the book that bears his name, and in Paul’s last letter he explicitly says, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11) Even Paul had to admit that he had rejected a “valuable stone.” All that is not to say that we are to be soft on each other; failures of various sorts aren’t simply to be excused. However, forgiveness isn’t the same thing as excusing, as I tell people all the time. We are to submit our evaluations of people to God, allowing Him to show us whom to trust with what, when and how. He’s likely to surprise us! Like with Paul and Mark, we may find that we have erred badly. Virtually every character in the Bible did things that on the human level would have been disqualifying, but those that repented, God used anyway. We don’t want to reject “stones” for which God has a special use.

I apply this to myself, because I was rejected by the mission board of my choice, but God sent me out anyway. I have been tempted to reject myself as a failure more than once, but God has continued to shape and use me. I was enormously uptight about my speaking engagement yesterday, but God followed through marvelously. I’ve got to remember that none of it was to my personal credit, despite what various people said afterward. It was just proof that God can use a pebble on the ground in remarkable ways, if it’s in the right place at the right time. I’ve also got to remember this in relating to others. There are people I would have great trouble trusting in ministry because of what they have done in the past. My wife is much more of a “Barnabas” in that area than I am! I am not to write anyone off, but continue to speak the truth in love and allow God to decide whom He will use when, where, and how.

Father, thank You for Your incredible grace and faithfulness. I don’t know what the repercussions of yesterday will be, but I leave that in Your hands. May indeed Your kingdom come and Your will be done, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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