For the woman who’s sad about her past.

Mark 5:1–20 (ESV): They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. 2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

14 The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 16 And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and to the pigs. 17 And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 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.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

Okay, bare with me, because that is some seriously weird scripture. Arguably the weirdest, even surpassing Abraham marrying his sister. (Read the Bible guys, it’s some juicy stuff.)

So let’s try to break this down a little bit, basically there’s this guy. He’s demon possessed, going crazy, and then Jesus comes to town. Jesus drives out the demons into a heard of pigs and they then commit suicide. Which isn’t really relevant to my story here but it’s just so crazy I couldn’t leave it out.

So these men are past the point of saving in most people’s eyes. They are just going mad with the evil consuming them. And Jesus saves them.

Why is this story different than other redemption stories in the Bible? Because after Jesus saves them, they want to go with Him, and Jesus tells them no. He tells them they must stay and let people see what He has done.

When I look back on a few years of my life I feel like those men. So far gone that I was begging Jesus to save me. When I look back on my past before I read this passage I was embarrassed. Embarrassed and angry and ashamed, and for a long time I distanced myself from anyone who knew me at that time because I was embarrassed and ashamed of who I was then. It’s hard for me to even talk to my parents about some years of my life because I am still so angry with myself.

But then I look at this passage. Jesus saves them. He saves them and commands that they stay, stay and let the people see what He has done. Stay around the same people who saw how bad they were so that they could see what Jesus can do in someone’s life.

You see if God saves you and brings you out of something, you can’t just run and hide. Your life is a testament to His glory. The fact that you’ve seen bad times and come away from it. That you can be used for His works after you’ve been so far away. That is what brings people to Jesus, not a clean record.

When I look back at my past now I am not ashamed. I am not angry. I am not embarrassed. I am incredibly sad for that girl. Sad for the girl who didn’t know her worth, who strived for the attention and affection of man and not God. Sad for the girl who didn’t know how beautiful the plans God had for her were. But I am also overwhelmed with gratitude that God rescued me so quickly. That He didn’t leave me there. He brought this girl out of her own mess but kept her in the same place so that I can show others that redemption is real. Love is real.

God can turn you around, and you don’t have to leave your small town to have a fresh start. God’s redemption is bigger than the small town grape vine, but you have to get your own ego out of the way and be firm in who He is making you. So don’t wallow in your past and don’t be embarrassed about it. Let God consume that embarrassment, start walking in confidence that God has redeemed you and can use you.

You don’t have to be ashamed. You are redeemed.

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