The other morning I read in Matthew chapter 8, about Jesus healing two men from demonic possession and casting the demons into a herd of pigs at their request. The pigs then plunged themselves down a steep hillside into water and drowned. When the town heard of what happened and saw the formerly possessed men calmly sitting beside Jesus, they begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone.
I was struck by a couple things. One, in verse 29, the demons knew exactly who Jesus was and asked his permission to be sent into the pigs – they knew his power and feared his presence and what his presence ment for them. Not only did “some of them” as his permission, all of them obeyed his command to “go!”
But then, when the villagers heard what had happened and saw the results, they begged Jesus to “go away and leave them alone.” What?!
Okay, so I have heard that the village was afraid for their wellbeing – that taxes were so high in those days and that pigs would have been a primary source of income, and that to have had a whole herd fling themselves into water to drown would have been devastating in an economic way. Not to mention rather scary.
But, here, standing in front of them was a man so powerful that demons asked him for permission to flee from him, and violent men were set free and calmed simply by Jesus word. Standing before their very eyes was the key to gaining more pigs! I have to wonder if they had just asked him what to do about their income, if he would take care of them now that a source of provision was gone, what Jesus would have done. Is there a miracle here, in this passage, that was never preformed because it was never asked for?
And then, I was hit between the eyes with one penetrating question. One that has been rolling around inside be for these days since reading this passage. How often do miracles go undone in my life, simply because I don’t ask?
More questions spring up from that one. How many times have I seen God at work around me and begged to be overlooked by Him, for the sake of not being embarrassed or inconvenienced, or possible because the risk of loosing more freaks me out? Or simply because I haven’t understood who was at work before my eyes? And is that just because I haven’t wanted to understand, because the implications of what I might understand would require something greater of me than I am willing to give?
Here in Scripture, an entire town had God-in-flesh in their presence, available for requesting, for inviting into their homes and possibly for receiving many other miracles that could have changed their lives forever – and they begged him to go away and leave them alone.
And the thing is, when it has come to the radical side of Jesus and what He has the power to do, I have responded exactly the same way. Despite my knowing the “rest of the story” and having all the evidence lining up to reveal who Jesus is. Despite having knowledge that these villagers didn’t have, I have felt the exact same plea surging through me when faced with something bigger than I can grasp, something that potentially threatens my livelihood.
I need help beyond gaining understanding, I need the gift of asking and the ability to receive. That simple child like faith that says, “okay, now that you’ve taken away my pigs, what are you going to replace them with?” I need the ability to stand in the presence of miracles, of the miracle worker, and not only accept what I see but ask for what I need in the midst of it all.
One final thought that cuts deeply into me. What was a miracle for two men, the act that saved their lives, wreaked devastation for another – the pig herder, and possibly the entire village. Am I willing to look at areas of devastation in my life as potential miracles for others, and to look at the author of my faith and thank Him for their miracle while asking Him, “now, what is the miracle you have for me?”
Can I stand in the presence of events that greatly impact my well-being, and that of my family, and without understanding, stand in awe of the God-in-flesh? Can I praise Him for what He did in someone else’s life, while mine is left in seemingly ruins? Can I move beyond confusion and disappointment, fear and the pain of what is before me, to ask, “what now, Lord” and look to Him with expectation?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”