Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:19 NIV
There are two types of experiences that we talk about being defined by: 1) successes and 2) failures.
When we experience incredible, mountain-top successes, we wish those moments could last forever.
- A job promotion
- An incredible friendship forged
- Defeating a life-threatening illness
- Your wedding day
- The day your kiddos were born
We wouldn’t mind if we were defined by these moments.
But the other type of moments threaten to crush us when we dwell on them.
- A heartbreak
- A job loss
- The death of a loved one
- Saying something unkind in the heat of a moment
Even something as insignificant as an embarrassing high school screw-up can end up being the ONE THING someone remembers about you. No one wants to be defined by these moments.
But here’s the tricky thing: Even the most powerful successes fade over time and leave us chasing the next big thing. And failures leave us forever feeling like we need to prove our worth to the world.
So, what’s left?
I was thinking about that when I read a part of Mark awhile back. There’s an account in chapter 5 that talks about how Jesus healed a man who was possessed by demons. It’s a pretty epic event. We learn that the man is possessed by so many demons that the demons call themselves Legion – “for we are many.” Legion had this man so tortured that he lived in the tombs instead of his home. He went through each moment naked (or nearly naked), crying out and cutting himself with stones night and day.
That’s not exactly how I’d like to be committed to memory.
But Jesus visits him and heals him and we see a complete transformation. The whole town turns up to see him in a completely different state: sitting, dressed, and in his right mind. The man is so thankful that he begs Jesus to let him go to Jesus’ next destination with him.
19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 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 5:19-20 NIV
Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were the formerly-possessed-guy, one of the first things I might think to myself is how embarrassing it would be to know that the entire town has seen me at my worst. They all know me as the psycho, possessed, self-mutilating, naked guy!!! How could they ever take me seriously after seeing me like that?! Come on, Jesus! Just take me away with you.
But instead, he goes on to do what Jesus asked him to. He tells people in the Decapolis – the Ten Cities – all about what Jesus did for him. And all the people were amazed!!!! They didn’t criticize him or laugh at him; they were amazed at what he told them. Their focus wasn’t on the man at all – they were amazed at what he told him – how much JESUS had done for him.
So, what can I learn from this guy? Two things:
- Jesus sees the best in us even when we’re at our worst.
- We don’t need to be defined by our successes or our failures. We can be defined by how much our Savior has done for us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, you know all about the moments in my life that thrill me and all about the moments that make me cringe. But the only moment that matters in my life is the moment you called me yours. Please keep me from hiding in shame or pride but instead living in the joy that you give me as your child! Amen.