Those whom the Lord calls to leave home and serve as missionaries, pastors, and teachers in a different land are worthy of our utmost respect and admiration. The gospel has been carried throughout the world in God’s good providence by the feet of men and women who were willing to walk away from all they knew and went to spread the good news of the gospel to distant shores. May we always pray for people to be ready to go when the Lord so calls.
There is, however, another way the Lord works in the lives of His people. We see an example of this in Mark 5. A man who has been tormented by demons is the laughing stock of his own hometown. He was known to live among the cemeteries at night and to meander down the streets naked. As you might imagine, there would be no shortage of jokes made up among the people whose punch line is this man’s name.
One day the Lord graciously heals him and casts out the demons that were tormenting him. In fact, the demons were so many that when they were expelled, they were referred to as “Legion,” which meant “many.”
After Jesus healed this man, He climbed into a boat as He prepared to leave the area and travel away. Not surprisingly, the man who had spent his days under the control of demons and his nights strolling among the dead, drew near to Jesus and asked to go with Him. It makes perfect sense! Not only would this man want to remain with the One who had just changed his life, but you know he is also in a hurry to get out of town!
No more jokes…no more stares…no more feeling ostracized…no more overhearing the whispers about “the crazy man with no clothes who strolls the cemeteries and cuts himself.”
The man approaches Jesus and asks to go with Him. The Lord gives him a strange, but stern reply. The man is not to leave…He is to stay. Jesus says in Mark 5:19 that the man is to “go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.”
The man was called to stay.
Sometimes the hardest call is the call to stay. This man was ready for a change of scenery and ready for a fresh start. He longed to meet people who did not know the man he used to be. He desired to live among people who had not seen him on his worst day and had no memory of his biggest blunders.
But, God called him to stay.
He is to stay right where he is and make his mission field his family, friends, and neighbors. The very ones who knew the worst of him are now the ones to whom he is to go and tell the good news of the power of Jesus Christ.
It is an admirable thing when someone is willing to leave home to tell others about Jesus. Sometimes, though, it is the best thing we can do to embrace the very home God has given us and see to it that we never overlook those closest to us when it comes to sharing the gospel.
It has been said that we should be ready to go and willing to stay. However the Lord chooses to direct your steps, see to it that the message is the same, regardless of location. If He calls you to go to a new land, then obey with joy.
And if He calls you to stay? Then, go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.
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