Before and After. These words kept coming to me, perhaps because I am in the middle of a farmhouse renovation. I take many pictures of the before and compare with the after and it feels good to turn something dirty into something clean and fresh. It then came to me that this is similar to the way our lives are before and after with Jesus.
A tormented man lived as an outcast for many years, naked and alone in the tombs of Gadara, near Galilee. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees and shouted at the top of his voice, begging for mercy from God. Jesus commanded the demons to leave him and then cast them into a herd of pigs that rushed down the steep bank into a lake and drowned. The man was healed physically, but more importantly, spiritually. Mark 5:1-15 “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces, neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, and cried with a loud voice, and said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?” I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion, for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And fortwithJesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they c0me to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind and they were afraid.” Mark 5:20 “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him and all the men did marvel.”
He was so overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus had done, he begged to travel with Jesus and stay by His side. But Jesus had other plans. Instead, Jesus told him to go and share his story. And he did. Mark 5:19 “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”
What had once been a burden to bear became a powerful story of holy transformation. This man’s past, and the healing he experienced, became the foundation of a purpose in life that he would have never imagined-living his life as proof of the life-changing power of Jesus.
The man’s story became a testimony when he was willing to share it with others. God desires for us to go and share our stories. God never wastes our pain. Only we do that. God has a plan for great purpose and a beautiful future for all who believe in Him. Not despite our past, our before, but because of it.
Lord, help me find the courage and the desire to share what You have done in my life. Turn my past into purpose and refuse to let my pain be for nothing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”