If You Feel Overwhelmed–Acts 12:25

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

In our last post from the book of Acts we looked at Acts 13:9 where Saul is first called Paul. And the name Paul means small, or humble. I took that opportunity to share a story written by my friend Jay Mark. It’s a story about two humble servants of God. If you’re interested you can read more here: So You Want to be an Influencer….

Something Surprised Me About Their Journey

Today I want to rewind a little bit to a verse that just keeps gnawing at me. It’s the part of Acts chapter 12 where the Bible tells us that “Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.” (Acts 12:25)

So here’s what’s been eating at me ever since I learned something about that verse. The thing about Barnabas, Paul, and John Mark leaving Jerusalem is that they went to Antioch. On foot. They walked. And while I was researching this passage of Acts for these blog posts, I learned that the trip from Jerusalem to Antioch was about 400 miles.

So those three walked 400 miles. They walked.

Blew my mind.

Surprised by a Humble Beginning

And it reminded me of one of my favorite stories about my Mom. I was home from college on break one day when my Mom announced she was going to start running. I thought of myself as an athlete at the time — even though I’m only 5′ 11″, and slow, and I can’t jump either. But somehow, in my mind, I thought I was an athlete. At the tiny college I attended I was invited to join the basketball team (but I declined), and I played on the tennis team (I only had a .500 record). Still, I thought of myself as an athlete somehow.

But there was one person I didn’t think of as an athlete, and that was my Mom. So when she announced she was going to start running, I reacted with a major eye roll.

“So what’s your plan Mom? How are you going to get started?”

“I’m going to walk to the mailbox,” she said.

Ridiculous, I said to myself as I rolled my eyes even harder than the first time. The mail box was a short block away from our front door.

“What does that do, walking to the mailbox?”

“I’m going to walk to the mailbox, then tomorrow, I’m going to walk a little farther. And I might jog a little. Then the next day, I’ll go a little farther than that,” my Mom said.

“That will never work,” I scoffed. Her plan was absolutely absurd.

A few days later I returned to school.

Maybe six months later, I was home again. Mom invited me to go for a run. “This ought to be good,” I thought to myself.

So we drove to Moraine Hills State Park, got out of the car, and we began to run.

And run, and run, and run.

“How far are we going?” I said.

“I have this route I like to do — it’s seven miles,” Mom said.

We were already a few miles in. “Can we take a break and walk for a minute?” I said.

I’m sure by now, you get the picture. I lost track of how many times I asked Mom if we could take a break. She destroyed me that day. And she did it by choosing a humble beginning. She started small, well within herself, and then, incrementally, little by little, she built up to the point where she could run — far — and fast. You know what’s funny? There’s a town near Moraine Hills State Park named Antioch.

One Foot In Front of the Other

From Jerusalem to the Antioch of antiquity is 400 miles. What Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark did when they walked all that way was similar in a sense to my Mom’s story. They didn’t look at the length of their journey and throw up their hands. It’s likely they started humbly. Not having walked long distances during their stay in Jerusalem, they probably walked a modest distance that first day. And then a little more each day as they gained endurance. Day after day they put one foot in front of the other, until they arrived in Antioch.

And as we’ll see, the Holy Spirit met them there.

And they went on to accomplish great things for Jesus.

So sometimes our Father asks us to do hard things for Him. He might even ask you to walk 400 miles. If you find yourself in that position right now, I just want to encourage you. If you feel overwhelmed, just start.

Make a humble beginning, but begin.

Start with a modest effort but start.

Incrementally build one step at a time. But start building.

Just by moving in the direction Jesus wants you to move in, even if you’re moving at a modest pace, you can accomplish great things for God.

Paul and Barnabas did.

So can you.

Walk to the mailbox.


Photo of the mailbox via Pete Toscano, Creative Commons.

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Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

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A life of loving like Jesus.

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2 Comments on “If You Feel Overwhelmed–Acts 12:25

  1. Beautiful story and it’s always awesome how your personal stories find a tie back to the Bible. Out of curiosity what’s your mom’s name?

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