In my last post, I talked of the man from the Gadarenes who was miraculously delivered from a legion of demons (Luke 8:22-39). Transformed by the merciful love of Christ, this new disciple wanted nothing more than to throw in his lot with Jesus and follow Him anywhere – regardless of where anywhere led. In fact, the Scriptures tell us he begged to go with Him.
One might think the Lord would automatically welcome the man to join in His wanderings. After all, what better way to promote a ministry than by including a walking, talking miracle as a premier?
But once again, we are reminded that the ways of God are not the ways of men.
The man who had been freed from the demons begged to go with Him. But Jesus sent him home, saying, “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.”
Clearly, this was not the answer the man was expecting. And now he had a decision to make.
Would he grumble about being refused his request? Would he sit and pout, complaining of the unfairness of being rejected? Would he continue to argue his case in hopes of getting his own way? Or would he simply do as he was directed, despite the momentary disappointment he most likely felt?
With an obedience almost as miraculous as his deliverance, the man stepped out to fulfill the Lord’s directive: So he went all through the town proclaiming the great things Jesus had done for him.
There’s no indication that he did anything else but obey.
What if the man would have refused to heed the Lord’s response?
What if he would have sought his own way to get to the other side of the lake where Jesus was going?
What if he would have neglected his own calling in pursuit of another’s?
Who would have done the work that God had chosen for him to do?
Let’s face it, sometimes we do not receive the answer from God for which we were hoping. Sometimes He says, “No.” Even when we beg Him to change His mind.
Unlike the man from the Gadarenes, I daresay most of us are not so easily content to simply respond with obedience. Instead, we may scheme to get around the answer we have received in attempt to “reason” our way into a calling that is not ours to pursue. But if we continue in the vein of responding to our disappointment with disobedience, we will never fully embrace who we have been called to be.
In the midst of our frustration, it’s hard to remember that God’s “no” answers always have a built-in “yes,” because sometimes that “yes” remains hidden from our view. Carefully tucked away in a corner of the bigger picture. In this man’s case, I’m sure all he could see was the glimpse of the disciples clambering into the boat that would sail them into a wonderful destiny with the Lord without him. And he felt abandoned. Left out. Overlooked.
Having just encountered a love so consuming it consumed his demons, he was now being asked to be separated from its Source. Can you imagine the disappointment? The fear of what might happen if Jesus left and the demons decided to make a return visit? Little did he realize the separation which Jesus was asking of him was part of a grand scheme involving the salvation of souls. This man was being called to a higher purpose, destined to live in the big picture instead of being held to a lesser responsibility. In this case, by choosing not to “go” with Jesus, the man continued walking with Him, and the gospel was taken to a new place.
In short, the great commission of God was fulfilled through his obedience as he surrendered to a higher call. How many hearts were tugged toward Jesus all because one man was content to continue on in faith… even when he was told, “No.” ?
So today, I pose this question: Are you willing to lay aside your disappointment and respond with a willing obedience to pursue the directives of the Lord? Even if you have begged for a different answer than the one you have received?
There’s no way of knowing what will happen with the bigger picture of your life… until you are willing to step into its frame and allow the boat of another’s calling to sail away without you.
…and proclaim the great things Jesus has done for you.