Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Home (01/09/06)
TITLE: My Home Among the Tombs
By Sandra Petersen
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I made my home among the bones of my Gadarene ancestors. Sometimes I would come to my senses and briefly know the difference between what I once was and what I had become. Then the demons would pitch me headlong into insanity again.
My mental torment was so great that I sought relief by cutting myself with sharp stones. The self-inflicted pain was only a temporary distraction. The demons delighted in my wounds. Day and night I cried out in insane howls which echoed throughout the mountains.
Occasionally strong men from the city came with shackles and chains to subdue me. I could hear the demons laugh among themselves at these feeble human efforts. No sooner the men thought they finally caught me than the demons would cause my physical strength to increase sevenfold. I broke shackles into pieces and pulled apart chains as though they were made of grass blades. When the men saw this, they ran from me in fear. Sometimes, howling furiously, I would chase them.
Soon no one ventured near the tombs or even on the nearby road because of me. I was alone, but never alone. The mountains around me were peaceful, but I was never at peace.
One evening as I wandered in the tombs, the demons were restless. Their fevered whispers echoed in my mind. Something was about to happen, and they were afraid.
They led me from the tombs toward the shore of Galilee. Pale moonlight accentuated every shadow around me. The demons directed my eyes toward a boat that had just landed. A man stepped out followed by others. My eyes were riveted on the one man.
Something about him made the demons propel me toward him. His followers braced themselves to ward off an attack, picking up driftwood or clenching fists in readiness. When I was close enough to tackle the man, the demons cast me at his feet, not to worship but to cower in fear.
My mouth opened and they yelled, “What do I have to do with You? You are Jesus, Son of the Most High God. Do not torment me, I beg you.”
The man Jesus looked at me with eyes filled with compassion. His loving gaze seemed to reach my imprisoned soul.
He spoke, saying, “What is your name?” and they reluctantly answered, “Legion.”
The terrified men around Jesus turned to board the boat again.
Then the demons shrieked, “We know you, Jesus ! We beg you, don’t send us to the abyss !”
Jesus looked to the mountainside where a herd of swine and their keepers were settling in for the night well away from the tombs.
Then the demons pleaded, “At least send us into the bodies of that herd of swine.”
Without hesitation Jesus said, “Go !”
Like a mighty gust of wind, they departed and left me empty inside. Weak from my long ordeal, I lay on the ground as if dead. I could hear in the distance the thunder of many hooves on hard-packed soil and dismayed shouts. Then there was silence except for my own gasping breaths and the waves of the Galilee lapping at the shoreline.
Jesus knelt beside me and helped me to a sitting position.
“Clothe him,” he told his followers and they hurried to obey.
I had not known before now that I was even naked. As the men draped a robe over me, I covered my face and wept with joy and gratitude and paid homage to the one who had authority over the demons.
People came as we rested on the lakeshore.
“We don’t know who you are,” one said, “But we beg you to leave us ! Go back from where you came !”
They did not sound angry but fearful. I couldn’t believe my ears. Wasn’t anyone thankful to God for this miracle? Jesus turned to leave.
“Jesus !” I cried. “Please don’t leave me ! I want to go where You go.”
I fell to my knees and clutched His robe.
“Son,” Jesus said, His hand upon my shoulder. “God has had compassion and did a great thing for you. Now you must go and tell everyone throughout this land.”
Then He left, and I, no longer calling the tombs my home, went abroad to spread the good news of Jesus.
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