The following story is for the __picture it & write blogging challenge. When I saw this image a few days ago, I knew I had to respond…
As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, He was met by a man who came out of the burial caves there. This man had an evil spirit in him and lived among the tombs. Nobody could keep him tied with chains any more; many times his feet and his hands had been tied, but every time he broke the chains and smashed the irons on his feet. He was too strong for anyone to control him. Day and night he wandered among the tombs and through the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones. ~ Mark 5:2-5 GNT
He had lived a lifetime in pain and loneliness. Most people called him crazy and stayed far away from him, afraid of what he might do to them. Doctors said he was a paranoid schizophrenic and tried to control the voices within him with medication, but not even their strongest medication could completely silence those terrible, dreadful voices that made him crazy… and wild… and violent…
Because they couldn’t hear them, they tried to tell him the voices weren’t real. But he knew better. Those demonic voices were just as real as the doctors and everyone else. Because they couldn’t see them, they tried to convince him that the demons he saw didn’t really exist — that they were merely figments of his imagination, but again, he knew better. He had imagined things in his lifetime, and he knew the difference between what was imagined and what was real. The demons were around him and within him, tormenting him night and day, day and night.
They thought they were helping him by placing him on medications to “quiet the voices and stop the hallucinations,” but they weren’t helping. Instead, the medications caused him to feel sick and nauseated, rendering him unable to function and fight against the demons. He still heard their dreadful, tormenting voices and saw them, though they were hazier with the medication…
He had begun seeing and hearing the demons as a child, but no one took him seriously. They thought his “imaginary friends” were harmless and cute, and they didn’t believe him when he told them that it was his “friends” who broke his toys… and started the fights with other children… and cut him… and caused his “meltdowns”…
As he grew older, his behavior grew more and more violent. Other children avoided him. He began to play games… drawn to dark games with witches and wizards and dragons… The make-believe worlds in these games became his reality, and he began to read demonic books and study things of the occult world, and his harmless and cute “imaginary friends” began to openly revolt against him, as the many clamorous voices within him refused to be silent, allowing him no rest.
They were the ones who forced him to cut himself. It was they, who caused him to hurt the animals. He didn’t want to, but the demons tortured him until harried and exhausted, he no longer had the strength to fight them, and so he surrendered to their will. His surrender only made the demons stronger, and each time he submitted to their cruelties, first hurting himself and then animals, they demanded more and more from him.
It had now escalated to the point that even with the medicine, he was unable to rest… He would be unable to resist their demands much longer, and they were commanding him to take a human life… He didn’t want to do this horrible thing, but he was powerless. The demons and the medicine had rendered him helpless, and he had lost all control of his body.
While he lay naked and spent in the cemetary just outside of town limits, shackled by demonic chains unseen by mortal man, but there nonetheless, he began to weep, crying, “Set me free of these chains! Does anybody out there hear me?” One of the demons kicked him while he was down, causing him to curl up in a fetal position on his side, as he continued to cry desperately for help.
“God please!” he cried, “I know I’ve done many terrible things, but please, Lord, set me free! I don’t want to live like this for the rest of my life,” he sniffled. “I want to love and be loved.”
Another demon kicked him harder this time, knocking the air out of him and hissing, “Silence! Don’t you dare speak that name,” another one backhanded him, striking his mouth and breaking several teeth, which lodged in his throat, causing him to choke on them. Helplessly gagging and spitting up blood and bile, he was finally able to dislodge the teeth from his throat and vomit them out. Things were much worse than ever before, and yet, for the first time, in all of the years the demons had reigned and ruled in his life, the man sensed fear emanating from them!
They were so scared of that name that they didn’t dare even utter it. He had once heard a preacher say that if you call on the name of Jesus you would be saved, and there was no other name that could save you. “Could this be true?” he wondered silently, so that they wouldn’t hear. One thing he had discovered years ago… no matter how powerful the demons seemed, and though he could hear them talking and see them, they did not have the power to read his thoughts.
“For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.” ~ Acts 4:11-12 NLT
Another thing he knew about the demons is that they hate the name of Jesus. “Maybe,” he continued to think silently, “if I call on Jesus, He will hear me, and set me free! One thing is certain,” he thought grimly, feeling lucid for the first time in years, “I cannot kill a human being or another animal, even if it means that they must kill me. At least, then, I would be out of my misery… Or is it true that I would be condemned to spend all of eternity with them?”
He winced and closed his eyes, as another demon placed a sharp rock in his hand, commanding him to gash himself with it yet again. “Enough,” he rasped, and gasping for air, he weakly cried, “Jesus! Please, forgive me!” He gulped, as tears of repentance began to roll down his gaunt cheeks, “Jesus, help me, please. I know I have sinned against You, and I am not worthy to tie your shoes.”
Though the demons around and within him continued clamoring for his attention, he set his face like flint, as he continued to pray. “I know that I am guilty of many atrocities, and that I don’t deserve Your forgiveness, but please, Lord! I don’t want to be bound by these demons anymore. I don’t want to hurt anyone or anything else. Jesus please save me!”
Suddenly, the air all around him became fresh, as a gust of wind blew into the cemetery, causing the demons to screech louder than ever before, but not at him. This time, they shrieked in fear, as the Almighty Son of the Living God appeared before them, holding a set of keys in His hand, walking toward the demonized man, as the demons all around him, against their will, bowed low to the ground. “Silence!” Jesus commanded sharply, as He unlocked the chains that had bound the man for so many years, and lifted him to his feet.
The man’s knees buckled beneath him, as he willingly bowed low before the King of Glory, and kissed His feet. “Forgive me, Lord,” he whispered, as Jesus again pulled him to his feet and looked deeply into his eyes.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus spoke to him compassionately, “your sins, though they are many, are forgiven.”
The demons, still bowed low, began to whine, “Don’t torture us,” they begged. “Please don’t send us to the abyss. Instead, please send us into that herd of pigs,” they pleaded, and Jesus did as they asked, casting them into the herd of two thousand swine that was nearby. And when they entered the herd of swine, the maddened pigs – every one of them – charged off the side of the mountain, into the the raging river below.
The man became aware of his nakedness, and Jesus, filled with compassion covered him with His cloak. As Jesus prepared to return to His heavenly throne, the man, now in his right mind, begged Jesus to take him with Him, but Jesus told him to stay, and share the good news about His love for all mankind with the people of his community…
The man did as Jesus commanded, walking the streets and talking to the addicts, the prostitutes and the pimps. He spoke to the poor and the lost, sharing the good news about Christ. And he spoke to the other “crazy and insane ones” who saw demons, telling them the name of the One who would save them and set them free, Jesus, the One who had set him free… He shared what Jesus had said to him before He returned to His throne…
” And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.” ~ Matthew 16:19 NLT