As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him, (Mark 5:18).
The man begged to go with him. And this, I think, is the true mark of a life touched by Christ.
Think back to the day you met your spouse or fiancé. You wanted to be with that person all the time. No matter where they went or what they did. Just to be with them, that was enough.
This man, once demon-possessed, from the Decapolis region, longed to be with the One who set him free. He had come out of bondage and fear, into joy and freedom. And he knew he could not live without that life. So “just let me go with you,” he begged.
And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled (Mark 5:19-20).
This story of the demon possessed man recounts a short episode along the Sea of Galilee, when Jesus crossed over to the other side. Landed, he descended from the boat and freed the man. Angering those choosing to cling to sin and to the things of this life. And then he departed once again. Just a brief sojourn.
But in a sense, the story of the Gadarene is a summary of the Gospel story.
Of Christ descending from heaven. Crossing over to the other side; our side, as it were. And freeing those who choose freedom. While angering those who cling to this life and sin, before returning to his Father.
A brief sojourn, which changed the destiny of humanity for eternity.
And Christ is still crossing over today.
He comes near to touch hearts and lives. Lives that then bear his mark, with hearts that cry, “Let me be with you, Lord. I can’t live without you, or go on without your presence. Just let me be with you.”
And still today he often says, “Stay.”
“I know you’re often fearful, and weary. I know you feel you can’t go on. That the task is too big for you. That you still have much to learn. But my power in your life is just as great as it was the day you met me. Even though I’ve gone, my presence is still with you. Have I not promised I will never leave you or forsake you?”
“Stay where you are,” he says. “I’ve gone to prepare a place for you, but it’s not time yet. You must stay, a while longer, on that side. For you have a work to do.”
There is a work for us to do. Right where we are.
Like that man, we often want to go. The grass seems greener, the opportunities greater elsewhere. We want to go out and do great things. But sometimes the Lord tells us, too, to stay and tell what the Lord has done for us. And touch the lives, the hearts, and touch our Decapolis (the cities around us) with his love.
Who will you tell today? What are you waiting for? They could be right next to you!
[Image of sear near Latina Lazio ©TheScorziellos-Mario]