If you hang around me for very long, you'll learn that I'm nostalgic. I love pointing out what happened on this date in history, reminiscing about what I ate at a certain restaurant, and returning to places I've been to see how much it has changed. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to do that as I traveled back to Ann Arbor, Michigan with my son, Dylan (who was 5 at the time). We went to attend a Michigan football game, but while we were there, we did some sight-seeing.
W-a-a-a-a-a-a-ay back in 1999, we moved there for one year as I started out in ministry. It was just his mom, him, and me back then. Going back there brought back a lot of memories. We ate at the Cracker Barrel that we frequented 3-4x/week (yes, the numbers are correct). We drove by the church where I did an internship (our reason for moving there). We drove by the hospital Kelly worked at. We walked through the Briarwood Mall. We did all that, and all those memories and stories came flooding back. But there's one more story that I wanted to make sure I told: what Jesus has done for us since then. My life and family and ministry all look different now, all because Jesus stepped in and changed me. When you think about it, we all should have a story to tell.
In Mark 5, we get a front-row seat to hear one man's story. It all started with him being possessed by an impure spirit...who lived in the tombs and couldn't be bound by anyone (not even with chains). He could tear the chains apart and would break the irons on his feet. He would cry out and cut himself with stones. (And you thought YOU had a checkered past?!?). Then this man met Jesus and was never the same. The demons were gone and he could now sit there, dressed and in his right mind. People freaked out and actually begged Jesus to leave their region. Read what happened next:
"As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, 'Go home [BACK] to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.' So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed." (Mark 5:18-20)
Once we meet Jesus, we should have a life-changing encounter like this man did! Maybe our past is different, but our future should be the same. Meeting Jesus should change us. We should go looking for people to tell that story to, and they should leave amazed at what Jesus has done. Is that what happens when you tell your story?!? If (since) our lives have been changed by Jesus, we should be on the lookout for people that want us to "go back" and tell that story again. We should be ready and willing to share what life was like before Him, what happened when we met Him, and what is different now that we have! And here is one more thing to consider: we should be praying that others would meet Him that way as well.
So as you pray this week, be lifting up those people who will hear your story. Your prayers can help them move from being in chains to in Christ to in transit, as they go and tell others what Jesus has done! Who do you know that needs to hear what He has done? And once you come up with some names, start asking God to show you what they need to hear!