When God doesn’t give us what we want.

Mark 5:1-20

“They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.

When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”

What a strange story. The demons beg and get what they ask for–let us go to the pigs! The man who no longer has demons also begs–let me go on mission with you Jesus! It sounds like a great request. Of course Jesus would want this, right? But Jesus seems to shut him down and denies his request.

Why does Jesus says no? The man’s response was good, natural, and understandable– but Jesus has greater plans for him.  It’s like Jesus is saying,  “Your declaration of me being the Son of God is good and true. But look at this whole region who used to know you when you were good as dead! These people need to hear that and see that I have the power to transform lives. You are the one to show them.”

Sometimes what makes sense to us isn’t what we are called to do. Sometimes our requests that are understandable and good aren’t granted because Jesus sees something greater. Maybe this wasn’t your first choice for school and you want to transfer. Maybe you feel like you have the wrong roommate and you absolutely dread going back to your dorm room each day. Perhaps you feel like you have your circle of good, solid Christian friends and all you want to do is stick tight to them.

Or perhaps Jesus is saying, “Look around and tell people how much I’ve done for you. Tell people of your old life that was hopeless and without God, and now tell them how much I’ve done for you. Tell the people who seem distracted and uncaring towards you how much I’ve done for you. Tell the people who knew you back in the day how your life was changed and what I’ve done for you.”

Are you willing to have the plans that you thought were best redirected by God?