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 willing to walk away from all they knew to spread the good news 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. It is not as glamorous nor as likely to be revered. We see an example of this in Mark 5. A man, tormented by demons, became the laughingstock of his hometown. He was known to live among the cemeteries at night and to meander down the streets unclothed. As you might imagine, there would be no shortage of jokes made up among the people in which the punch line was this man’s name.
One day this man encountered the Lord, Who graciously healed him and cast 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, a name originally referring to a large number of soldiers.
After Jesus healed this man, He climbed into a boat and 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 chased after Jesus and asked to go with Him. It makes perfect sense! Not only did this man desire to remain with the One who had just changed his life, but he was also desperate to leave his humiliation behind and make a fresh start where no one knew his past. Wouldn’t you be?
No more jokes, no more stares, no more feeling ostracized, and no more overhearing the whispers about the insane man with no clothes who strolls the cemeteries and cuts himself. If ever a man was ready for a new start and a new home, it was he!
The man approached Jesus and begged to go with Him. The Lord gave him an unexpected but stern reply. The man was not to leave; he was to remain. Jesus instructed the man in Mark 5:19, “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 ready to go but was called to stay. Sometimes, that is the most difficult call of all.
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 humiliations.
But God called him to stay. He was to stay right where he was and make his mission field his family, friends, and neighbors.
The very ones who knew the worst of him were the ones to whom he was 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 best when we embrace the very home God has given us and not overlook those closest to us when sharing the gospel.
Far too often we tend to partner our obedience with a future phase of life, a hypothetical situation in which we have not yet lived.
I will be outspoken about my faith as soon as I finish school and graduate.
I will share the gospel after I move out of this town and find a job.
I will live a life of holiness when I have found my first ministry position.
The excuses and delays can be endless.
However the Lord chooses to direct your steps, see to it that the message is the same, regardless of your location. If He calls you to go to a new land, then obey with joy. If He guides you to a different ministry or allows you to serve in a new place, then do it with all your might and point others to Christ.
And if He calls you to stay? If He does not move you? What if the circumstances of your life do not change? What if your ministry does not expand or relocate? Then stay home and go to your friends and family -- those who know you best -- and express to them how much the Lord has done for you as you tell of His grace and mercy.
Live your life ready to go but willing to stay.
And regardless of location, see to it that the message of your life is Jesus. After all, if He is our Savior and He is the One we praise, then surely we must obey, no matter where the Lord would call us to live and whatever phase of life we are currently living.
We must be ready to go but willing to stay. We must be faithful – not because of our situation or location, but because of our Savior!