Moving Forward by Staying Put

I’m sure most of us have great things we want to accomplish in life. Trips we want to take, goals we wish to achieve, projects we wish to complete, and ultimately a destiny to reach. So for most of us, the title of this post is a misnomer. It makes perfect sense that to move forward with anything, by definition you can not stay where you are. However, the Kingdom of God doesn’t tend to operate under what I call “human sense.” Follow me for a few minutes if you will.

Jesus did many miraculous healings, some physical, and some spiritual. One of my favorite encounters is found in Mark 5:1-20. There is a man in need of relief, see the man had at some point opened a door to an unknown amount of evil spirits and had taken to living in a graveyard and haunting the nearby town.

You’re probably familiar with the story. When Jesus arrives by boat the spirits occupying the man’s body cry out, and Jesus does what He does best, he brings freedom. Jesus sends the spirits into a group of pigs who jump off a cliff into the sea. People come to see what is going on, they are confused about what happened with the swine, but more so, perplexed that the man is now sitting properly clothed and in his right mind.

The miraculousness of this encounter should not be overlooked. If Jesus can set this man free, there is tremendous hope that He can set us free from any sin we have become entangled with. Jesus wants to do this for you; He wants to see your life move forward towards the purpose He created you for, but what happens next might not be what we are expecting.

Once the man is given a new lease on life, he’s ready to follow Christ. Like Peter, James, and John leaving behind their boats, this young man is ready to leave his old life behind and begin a new journey with Jesus himself. That is until Jesus tells him to stay put. Here see for yourself:

“As he (Jesus) was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. (19) And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (20) And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” Mark 5:18-20 (ESV)

This young man had been completely transformed and renewed by Jesus, and he wanted to be a part of what Jesus was doing. He thought the best way to do this was to leave and go with Jesus. Now I’m sure it pleased God to see the man wanting to be close to Jesus, but God had a plan that didn’t involve the man leaving. I’m sure this was disheartening to the man; he probably couldn’t see how God would use him in a town where he was known as “That graveyard guy.” He wanted a fresh start, somewhere no one knew his past. The problem was, God had him right where He wanted him.

Like the man, often we think if we can get a change of scenery, things would drastically change. Perhaps a new job, or living in a new town, for others maybe they think if they could find a different spouse, things would be magically different, still, others think it may be easier to be successful somewhere new, someplace people didn’t know of their failures. There are times in the Bible where God calls people to leave where they live, but sometimes He transforms a life and leaves the people right where they were before He came to town.

See, God had placed this man in this particular town for a reason, in the same way, you are where you are at this very moment. He had given this man friends and family whom his life was meant to impact in one way or another, just like you. And while sometimes it may seem like we could get on in life much better if we could just start over somewhere new, maybe, like this man, God wants you to move forward by staying put.

Jesus didn’t leave this man behind as a punishment for years of demonic possession. He left him where he was to transform the people that had known the man. Verse 20 of chapter 5 says that people “marveled” when they saw the man telling his story. This was God’s plan then and is God’s plan now. The question is do you believe it?

Do you believe that God can use you? Do you believe God can do something with your marriage or your kids? Do you believe God can move in your church? Do you believe God can use you in your town, even if you have a negative history there? Do you believe? I hope you do because God wants to use YOU right where you are. Let Him transform your life, and help you continue to move forward, by faithfully staying put.

Grace and Peace to You.