As I write this post I am a UthGuy (pronounced YouthGuy) who has been working in youth ministry for more than 25 years. Over that I have build a series of hopes and aspirations, a sort of career “bucket list.” I am happy to report that many of them have been fulfilled. There are a few however that have hung on for a long time, and have even caused some frustration and disappointment. As yet another National Youth Gathering for the LCMS comes into focus, and my 50th Birthday grow fuzzy in the rear-view mirror I realize that my “Bucket Item” – “To speak at a National Youth Gathering” fades yet again. I have to admit with some embarrassment that I have shared this desire with very few, until today that is. I have even re-written this paragraph several time to see if I could work the specifics out and keep the message in tack – didn’t work as you can tell.
This morning as I continued my journey through Mark’s Gospel I came across someone else who was disappointed. Here is his story,
1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 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!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 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. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man–and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 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.” 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.
What a day – I am sure it started like any other – awaking cold and sore, alone among the tombs. Then Jesus arrives. The demons who where in control ran toward Jesus in attack mode. Upon arrival at Jesus feet the demons end up begging for mercy from Him. Driven away in a dramatic suicidal pig stampede the man is left behind. But this time he is not along, he is among friends. He is clothed by them and for the first time in a long time he is now in control of himself.
I am guessing he never saw the events of this day coming. This man of the tombs may well have resigned himself to his fate. Now everything was made new by the love and authority of Jesus. The man has one request “the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.” The people of the region where not to happy with Jesus – he frightened them – he was upsetting their world. I can imagine that this man got more than a few hostel looks from the crowd. I would even speculate that he wondered if the community would welcome him back. Couple this with his desire to travel with Jesus – to be an amazing witness to what Jesus had done and you have a man who REALLY want to go with Jesus. In an instant a new item is added to his “Bucket List.”
But it is not to be. ” 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.“” (Mark 5:19) The man of the tombs with a story that lives some 2000 years after the events is sent to a small audience – to his family. What a great place to start, who better to see and understand the amazing transformation that had taken place. It is an amazing account that will be passed on for generations. “And all the people were amazed.”
As I read this account I have discovered for me a renewed calling to Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. My Bucket list is just that, it’s mine. I am slowly learning to yield my short sighted, often self centered Bucket List to the one whose vision is eternal and desires for me nothing but the best!
Is there something in your life, on your “Bucket List” that you need to yield to God?
I have something you can add to your “todo list” as all as we are talking lists. “Remind Craig of the amazing Calling of God placed on his life to go and tell his family.”
I am blessed you know – with a huge family, both by birth and by the God who calls his people together to be family.