Thursday, March 4, 2004
It was a crazy Christmas at our house! Everybody in our family - three generations now - is so excited about giving gifts to the others. Oh yeah, about getting them, too. That sometimes our festivities are not quite like "peace on earth." Such was our last Christmas. The chatter was loud, the laughter was hearty, and the buzz was intense. Or, in the case of a two-year-old, confusing. My wife, with her finely-tuned grandma's radar, noticed that our little grandson seemed a little dazed by all this happy Christmas crossfire. So she just quietly slipped to the floor where he was and began working patiently with him on assembling a toy he had just opened. This precious scene had been going on for a few minutes before any of us even noticed in the chaos. But there was Grandma, quietly creating an island of sanity in a sea of craziness.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Human Harbor."
That's what Grandma was for our little guy. She provided a human harbor that protected him from the storm around him. There are some people in your life who need a harbor like that - someone who's a safe place in the middle of life's bombardment. God has put you there to be that harbor.
And He's given us a wonderful flesh-and-blood example in our word for today from the Word of God which begins with Acts 4:36 where a man named Joseph was renamed by the church leaders. "Joseph ... whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)." We've all been called some names we'd like to forget, but wouldn't it be great if people thought you should be called "Encouragement?"
Now let's watch Mr. Encouragement in action. Saul, the chief persecutor of the early Christians, has just been brought miraculously to Christ. But with his reputation, no one wanted to risk letting him in the door. Except for Barnabas. The Bible says, "When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles" (Acts 9:26-27). The harbor when no one else was there for Saul.
When Gentiles, who the Jewish believers weren't very excited about, reportedly came to Christ in Antioch, guess who was there for them? Barnabas, of course. The Bible says, "He encouraged them all..." (Acts 11:23). Saul became the Apostle Paul, and he and Barnabas went out as the first Christian missionaries. But they got into a major disagreement over bringing a young man named Mark along. He had washed out in a previous mission and Paul didn't want to take him along. But Barnabas, the guy who believed in second chances, took Mark with him to another ministry assignment. Later, Paul wrote that Mark was "helpful to me in my ministry" (2 Timothy 4:11). Because a guy named Barnabas kept believing in him.
Will you be the Barnabas for the people around you? While the world is going crazy and the bullets are flying, be the one who makes each person feel like they're the only person in the world when they're with you. You can be an island of sanity in an insane world just by giving each person your total focus; your undistracted listening. Human harbor folks like Barnabas give people the "Three Life-Changing A's": your Attention, your Affection, and your Affirmation. Those positive strokes that help them feel how special they really are. They know they can come to you uncondemned, unjudged, unafraid. There are few things you can do that will mean more in the midst of a storm than to pray, right then and there, with that person under pressure.
In the midst of the crossfire and the craziness of a cold, confusing world, you have so much to give, because you have found your harbor in the arms of Jesus Christ. Be what the people around you need so desperately. Be the one place that they know they're safe.