Would you ever tell Jesus “no”?
In our reading last week, we read the story of Jesus healing the demon possessed man. There are references through out the gospels of Jesus healing others who were demon possessed, but this man was so crazy that he earned 13 verses to tell his story (Luke 8: 26-39). He had a whole legion of demons in him. He lived in a cemetery, didn’t wear clothes and broke every type of restraint that they used in an attempt to subdue him. Cra-zy.
Jesus drives the demons out and into some nearby pigs who then jump into a lake and drown. Word spreads and a crowd forms around Jesus to see this once crazy man dressed and sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet.
So they ask Jesus to leave. Whaaat? Now who’s the crazy one? How could you see this amazing miracle right before your eyes- a life brought back from the point of destruction- and then ask Jesus to leave?
I know the miraculous healing that Jesus can bring. I know how much he can change a life. But for a long time, I held onto a wound, and repeatedly asked Jesus to kindly leave. The people in this story were afraid of the change that was coming- the change that Jesus’ love can bring- and I, too, was afraid. This man’s entire identity was changed, and I was fearful that my identity would change as well. I was fearful that, without this gaping wound, I wouldn’t recognize the person that looked back at me in the mirror. So, I told Jesus ‘no’ over and over again. I told Him to leave that part of me alone.
So, this story doesn’t seem that ridiculous to me.
As I look back now on that period of my life, I can’t imagine why I was so afraid. God’s response to our mistakes or hurts is never condemning- particularly when we approach with a repentant heart. That part of my life is closed, but it was closed and filled with God’s love instead of my hurt. Our identity is never in our pain- Our true identity is found in Him.
Father God, I thank you for this community of believers. I know that you have a plan and purpose for each person reading this right now. I pray that your love would overcome every hurt and pain that they have been withholding from you and that your joy would replace where hurt has been. Amen.