Daily Archives: May 3, 2022

Evening Prayer: May 3rd

Holy and Wonderful God, today I did my best to show love to all I encountered, not take credit for my accomplishments, and not expect special treatment when impatient. Please forgive me those transgressions when I was weak. Be with me this night: strengthen my heart, mind, spirit, and soul as I sleep so that, in the morning, I might try again to do your will. Guard me this night so that I might sleep in peace. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Daily Scripture Passage: Psalm 31:1-8

Psalm 31:1-8 (ESV)

Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit

31 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!

For you are my rock and my fortress;
    and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
    but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
    because you have seen my affliction;
    you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
    you have set my feet in a broad place.

Thoughts to Ponder from Matthew 8:34-37

“When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left” (Matthew 8:34-37)

I have always found this to be a peculiar story. Jesus and his disciples end up in the region of the Gerasenes and they encounter a demon possessed man. We are not talking a “metaphor” either. This man, legitimately, was tormented by demonic possession. In fact, when the demons see who Jesus is, the demon cries out, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” This demon was nasty and it was one who was quite familiar with Jesus. 

Jesus, seeing the plight of the young man, does what only he has the power to do: he casts out the demon (and as the story goes on, it is far more than one). With power and authority that only the Son of Man could have, Jesus delivers and frees the young man from the torment and power of demonic possession, restoring the man completely to wholeness. No longer would he be tormented. No longer would he be tortured. No longer would he be feared by those around him and chained like a wild beast. This man finally knew the freedom that comes through the Son of God, Jesus. 

Now, you would also think, that with this miraculous deliverance and restoration of a human being – everyone would rejoice and be glad. But that is not what the story tells us. In fact, what we do see is that even though the man is dressed, groomed and in his right state of mind when the townsfolk show up – rather than celebrating (and this is where it gets peculiar), the Scriptures tell us they are in fear! In fact, there fear is so great, they ask Jesus to leave. What a perplexing response to such a tremendous event! 

This story has always perplexed me. Why would the people react in such a way? Why would they be more afraid of Jesus than of a man who was possessed by the demonic? This story is almost reminiscent of what we read in Isaiah 6:5. When Isaiah is ushered into heaven and encounters the living God, what is his response? “And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” 

It is a tremendously unnerving thing when we encounter the Wholly Divine, the Wholly Other. When we come truly into the presence of the Living God, I believe that human beings become so aware of their own sinfulness, their own finitude, with the Light shining on them, it is startling and fearful because we know all too well that we are not even close to worthy to be in the presence of a force like our God’s. God is completely good, completely pure, all powerful and all knowing. When we walk fully into the Light of Jesus, everything is exposed and nothing remains hidden. We know at that point, exactly what we deserve. And we become frightened. And many times, we ask Jesus to leave because it is so overwhelming. Rightfully so! We truly are a lot that deserves the condemnation of God. But if we ask him to leave, we miss the other half of the story.

God is in the delivering business. He is the One that is able to set the captive free, to make those with unclean lips, clean. Jesus is the one who is able to set us free from the powers and principalities of this world. He is the one who is able to deliver us from the demonic and restore us completely back to life. The problem is: Do we really want it? He offers, in fact, he even proves he is able to do it! But we have to want to receive it. Yes, it is a very unsettling thing to see ourselves truly for what we are. And when it is in the presence of God, it is right healthy to be afraid. But. Fear is not the end state that Jesus wants for us. 

You see, right before this event, Jesus calms the storm that threatens to sink the boat and kill the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, with great authority, speaks into the power of that storm and shows that He and He alone is the power over all things. That is the same thing he desires to do to us. He desires to speak, “Peace, be still” into the storms of our lives that we may not fear, but rather, we may find redemption. That is the offer God holds out to us. Again, it is up to us to receive his offer of salvation or say, as the townsfolk in this story did, “Depart.”