Epilogue or New Beginning?

PANNING FOR GOLD

Digging into Mark 5:18-20

You know how you can read a story (watch a movie, etc.) several times and all of a sudden you understand something you never did before? Something big, maybe? That’s what happened to me with this bible story. The first kazillion times I had read or heard it, all that I really noticed was this part:

When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. . . . When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” . . .


When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. . . .

But then there is an epilogue:


As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed (Mark 5:2-3, 6-8, 15, 18-20).

An epilogue, right? Just small glimpse into the aftermath of a mighty miracle? Wrong! The last time I read these three verses, I saw how dramatic they are. The newly-delivered man was full of gratitude and love. He did not want to be separated so soon from Jesus. He wanted to travel with him like his other disciples. Instead, Jesus sent him on an important mission to his home town. My heart sank as I thought of his disappointment.

Then I realized: this is an example of the fact that heaven’s agenda often messes with ours. I was awed that this man had been chosen for heaven’s. Jesus was not holding the healed demoniac off at arm’s length. He was inviting him into a privileged fellowship–the fellowship of those who do the the will of the Father.

Why Not Today?

I’m a pretty tough cookie, but, one day, a number of years ago, I didn’t feel so tough. My ailing marriage really had me beaten down. I called my pastor, and—right in the middle of the day—he took the time to listen. As the conversation was winding down, I said I knew that someday God would make me happy again. Rev. Ken said, “Why not today?”

And, you know, he was right. I turned wholeheartedly to the Lord, and his comfort, hope, and even a stab of his joy took over my inner landscape.

The psalmist David knew this secret. When you read his life story—oh, my goodness, what hardships, heartaches, and challenges he faced over and over. But he took about three breaks a day to sing to the Lord. He crooned about the fears, the betrayals, and the dangers then broke into songs of thankfulness, awe, and love toward God.

Here’s how that made him feel:

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies (Psalm 23:5).

Wow!

Jacob (see “Does He Even Know I Exist?”) found out that God reaches out to guide, reassure, and transform us at critical times in our lives. David didn’t wait for those exceptional times. He lived in the security and joy of God’s presence every day.

A friend of mine just returned from a women’s retreat. The leaders had challenged the participants to start spending thirty minutes at the beginning of each day to read God’s Word and fellowship with him. My friend has been doing that. She told me that every day she does, things just didn’t bother her like they usually do. I wish you could see the sparkle in her eyes.

. . . you will fill me with joy in your presence . . . (Psalm 16:11 NIV). 

“. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV). 

 

Making It Personal

  • Do you need some joy and strength in your life today? Do you have to wait until all your problems are solved?
  • Have you fellowshipped with the Lord today? If not, how about now?