June 23, 2019
What a powerful story we have before us today.
A story of powerful conflicts and transformation.
A story of an amazing transformation from terror to wholeness.
Jesus takes a man possessed by demons and heals him.
A powerful story indeed.
And yet — a hard story for us to understand.
How are we supposed to understand this story?
Do we look at it and say;
“Well — demon possession was a phenomenon of ancient cultures — or at least of cultures foreign to me. It’s just how folks explained things at that time that didn’t make sense to them. It has nothing to do with anything I have ever experienced — or will ever experience.”
Is this just a thrilling story — like the hit movie “The Exorcist” or something off some science fiction TV show?
While the story does have supernatural, mythic qualities to it — I wonder —
Is there something here that speaks to us — that really speaks to us — that speaks to the depths of our souls — that speaks to a need for healing and wholeness in our lives — and a place where the healing and wholeness we may need can be found?
Maybe you have a problem relating to the Geresene demoniac. You’ve never been possessed by demons — never known anyone to be possessed by demons — and it’s a pretty sure bet that you never will.
But — then again —
Let me tell you a story about a man I’ll call Frank.
Frank is married – he and his wife have a teenage son – he has a good job – he lives in a nice home in a good neighborhood. It seems that he has his life pretty much in order. He seems to be in control.
But — look again.
There are things that are tormenting Frank.
It seems that there are too many things changing in Frank’s life for him to cope with them all. His life seems to be spinning out of control. If you asked him, he may not say that he is possessed — but — quite honestly — he feels possessed by many problems — and he is in great need for some sense of wholeness and even healing in his life.
A multitude — what you might even call a legion — of changes and problems are possessing Frank at this time.
One is his job.
The changes taking place sense the sale of the company he works for are very disorienting and discouraging to Frank. New faces — forces — and rules have come swirling in on him from the new corporate headquarters. There are too many new hoops to jump through to please the boss. Though he’s worked there happily for twenty years — nothing is normal any more. He can’t make much sense of what is happening — and certainly feels that he has no control over it. If it were one or two specific work-related problems, he could handle it. But it seems to be everything — then again it seemsto be nothing. He sullenly suffers along — but his work just doesn’t give him much pleasure any more – and he wonders if he ever will.
But that is only one of the legion of problems and changes that Frank is having to deal with.
There is also his teenage son.
Almost overnight his on has become like a dark shadow in his life.
It is almost spooky the way he seems to always find the way t to upset Frank.
Frank doesn’t like his son’s friends.
His son’s general attitude in recent months is terrible.
Frank can’t believe some of the things that come out of his son’s mouth.
And these are only the things he knows about.
He shudders to think what is going on in his son’s life that he doesn’t know about.
When Frank tries to confront his son — to talk about it — it quickly lead to arguments in which they both say terrible and destructive things. So — lately – Frank just tries not to think about it. But that doesn’t work, either. It keeps gnawing away at him. It depresses him.
But – – even though his job and his relationship with his son worry him — these are these are not all the demons in Frank’s life.
There is also his relationship with his wife.
He is increasingly haunted by a sense that their relationship is heading downhill fast. O — they are not on the verge of divorce or anything like that — at leas he hopes not. There is, however, a rapidly growing irritation and impatience between them. After what had been some particularly viscous fights they are now both trying to tiptoe around anything that may cause another eruption. In other words, they stay out of each others way. The result is that they barely communicate about anything except for the most mundane of matters. Frank is certain that his wife doesn’t like what is happening between them any more than he does — but neither of them seem to have the energy or the desire to get to the bottom of whatever it is that is happening between them.
So — instead of his home life being a relief from the problems at work — his home life only adds to the list of demons that torment him.
His work — his son – his relationship with his wife — what a legion of problems — a legion of demons bedeviling Frank!
But — there are more problems to the legion that bedevil him.
His drinking sure doesn’t help matters any. He knows that his intake of alcohol has steadily increased over the last several years. It isn’t that he can’t think of several others who certainly drink more heavily than he — but — in his best moments — he knows that this is a stupid rationalization — and a very poor source of comfort. He even promised himself that he would quit drinking for two weeks just to prove to himself that he could — and he had done it. Unfortunately, he remembers how glad he was to see those two weeks end so he could get back to his drink. He has this humiliating sense that his drinking is out of control — that his drinking is controlling him, not him controlling it.
His work — his son — his marriage — his drinking – all seem to be demonic forces problems in his life – but — as if these were not enough — there are other aspects to the bedeviling legions that has begun to haunt him.
One is that a good friend of his — the same age — recently died of cancer. Losing a good friend was bad enough — but as he watched someone his own age suffer and die he began to deal with a sense of fear about his own death. Despite the fact that — as far as he knows — he has no serious health problems, he still thinks about his own death — and even a momentary twinge of pain in his chest — or a couple of hours of a dull ache in his abdomen — or an awakening in the night with the feeling that his heart is beating faster than it should — or a feeling that he is breathing heavier than he should after walking several flights of stairs — badger him with the possibility that he, too, may find death or serious illness waiting around the corner.
And then there is the question of his fathers deteriorating health. Although he doesn’t like to think about it, Frank knows that before long he will have to place his father in a Nursing Home — but he can not even think about that himself — much less talk to his dad about it.
Problems at work –problems with his son –problems in his marriage — problems with his drinking — the death of a close friend and the feeling that death is waiting for him, too — his fathers deteriorating health — indeed, Frank feels possessed.
He feels possessed by too many changes and problems in his life for him to handle.
Half the time he can’t concentrate.
He can’t think straight.
No matter where he is or what he is doing, he seems to always be on edge.
Nothing can quiet his agitation.
He knows that he is not himself.
Have you ever thought that one — or several — of the problems possessing Frank were your problems?
Do you have a better understanding now of how the demoniac from the land of the Gerasenes must have felt?
I’m afraid we all might.
I’m afraid that there are too many Frank’s in our world.
Too many in our community.
Maybe some sitting here today.
What about you?
Are you like Frank?
Do you struggle with demon-like problems – either those Frank seems to be struggling with or the legion of others that can torment us?
Do you sometimes feel that your life is out of control and that you need a sense of balance?
Do you sometimes feel that that you just can’t stand the pressure any longer?
Then maybe you understand the demoniac better that you first thought.
So – who’s possessed?
Have the problems of life seemed to have just taken you over?
What do you do?
Well, the Geresene demoniac discovered Christ – – or actually it can be better said that Christ discovered him — and he was healed in an amazing way.
Maybe you need to discover Christ — or let Christ discover you – or re-discover Christ — whichever the case may be for you.
Maybe you need to establish — or deepen – your relationship with Christ.
When Christ confronted the legion of demons in the demoniac the demoniac found healing and wholeness. He returned to living his life — but with a new sense of purpose — that new purpose being to tell everyone about what Christ had done for him.
If you feel possessed by life’s problems — let Christ help you find healing — wholeness — and peace again.
Prayer can be a first step in this healing and wholeness process.
Worshipping with — fellowhsipping with — and sharing with other Christians — and knowing they are praying for you — is another.
Sometimes Christian-based counseling is in order.
But — the first step is letting Christ help you with your problems.
We are all “possessed” to some extent — aren’t we? There are times when all of our lives seem out of balance — out of kilter.
At these times we can come to Christ. We can give our problems to Christ — the one who cares for us and can heal us and make us whole.
If you feel possessed by problems and worries, let Christ possess you and fill you.
Let Christ make you whole.
Take that first step — and let Christ possess you.
Then — step out in faith — with Christ — to make the other steps necessary for healing and wholeness in your life.
It’s never easy.
Dealing with the legion of demon – like problems in life is never easy.
But — when you pray — and Christ possess you — it is indeed possible.
Then – – as you come to greater wholeness and healing in Christ — you can share your healing with others needing to experience God’s healing in their lives.
If you feel possessed by problems, come to Christ – and let Him possess you. Amen.