Me and Barnabas
Hazards! Hazards! Hazards! Life is filled with hazards. They’re unavoidable. I don’t have to tell you that on our journey through life we’ll encounter all sorts of hazards. We can’t miss them. They usually occur as we are traveling happily along on cruise control, when all of a sudden the pavement ends. BANG! WHOA! We didn’t see that coming! But there we are—struggling to negotiate a treacherous patch of bad road. Such hazards are part of life; no one is immune, no one is bullet proof; no bypasses, no short cuts, no mulligans. We are forced to stop, take stock, alter our course and reset our priorities.
When that happens, our natural instinct is to seek out other travelers who have already experienced similar stretches of bad roads. We want to know from them first-hand what to expect. How long will this last? How bad will it get before it gets better? Will we recover? Will our recovery be complete or will we have to limp through the rest of our journey? Will we lose our traveling companion? Will we have to finish our journey alone? And so on….
We can fare much easier if we are helped along the way by their encouraging words—someone to pick us up if we stumble and fall, or offer much needed ‘attaboys’ if we don’t stumble and fall. In Ecclesiastes 4:10 we read, “[Pity] anyone who falls and has no one to pick him up.” I would venture that that includes pitfalls of a physical, emotional or spiritual nature. It doesn’t mean that we are weak; it means that we are only human. We flourish much more readily with positive reinforcement.
As students of the Bible, we should be aware that even the great Apostle Paul experienced more than his share of hazards. Thus he would need lots of encouragement to finish his work. So, he never traveled alone—and rightfully so. And it appears that his main traveling companion was a man named Barnabas. Barnabas was an encourager. What an asset he proved to be. I have often wondered if Paul would have been the man he became or achieved the goals he attained without Barnabas, the encourager.
I’ll be the first to admit that I too, am currently negotiating a bad patch of road— that of being the loving caregiver to my cherished sweetheart. Happily, I can report that I have a wonderful encourager—a dear pastor friend who has already successfully made it through a similar patch of hard road. His encouraging words are priceless to me. At the same time, I am able to encourage others who are in similar situations as mine. What a joy would be mine if I were to say something, or do something, or be something that would encourage another struggling traveler along the way. It’s a two way street.
What a wonderful trait! Encouragers! Find one and/or be one!