Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. Matthew 8:34
In this passage, Jesus had just cast demons out of a few men and then sent them into some pigs at their request. The pigs ran into the water and drowned. When the townspeople heard about this incident, they all came out to see Jesus. But when they saw Him, they pleaded with Him to leave.
That struck me as odd.
Why did the whole town come out to see Jesus and then beg him to leave? Didn’t they think that it was amazing that Jesus had just healed two demon possessed men?
I think Jesus scared them.
He had a supernatural power that they had never seen before. And they seemed to be more concerned about their pigs drowning than celebrating the fact that two human beings had been set free from demonic influence.
Are we more concerned about property, possessions, and programs than we are about people? Human beings are created in God’s image and have eternal value. How foolish and easy it is to value possessions, investments, and even animals above people.
We can be a lot like those townspeople. We want to see and experience Jesus. We love His message of hope, love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. We like singing our praise songs, listening to sermons, and attending Bible studies. But when it gets down to brass tacks, to truly follow Jesus and let Him in–let Him stay–will cost us.
It will cost us everything.
We want a safe God who will keep us safe. We want parts of Him, aspects of Him, but not ALL of Him.
God does not call us to safe comfortable lives, but holy lives. To truly follow Him requires dying to self, picking up our crosses–total surrender.
Leaving the shore. Moving beyond the shallows and out into the deep.
The fact is, we can’t have Him in part. He is an all or nothing God.
You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3
When we really come to know Him, and He takes up permanent residence in our hearts, we sign a blank contract. Yep! Blank! We don’t get to know the details up front. We don’t get to read the fine print. We get to trust God to fill it out as our life unfolds–His plan–His agenda–in His timing. We just sign our name on the dotted line.
That’s the initial contract. Then there’s the daily continual struggle of letting God have control of our lives.
God has a way of putting his finger directly on things that we need to give up and let go of.
See I let God drive the car of my life. He’s in the driver’s seat. The problem is, I’m a back-seat driver. I like to tell Him where I want Him to go, what I want Him to do, and how I want Him to do it.
There are stories in the Bible where the Lord put his finger on particular areas in people’s lives. They had to make a choice of whether or not to trust God and let Him have complete control.
A rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked what he could do to be saved. He said he had kept the ten commandments. But Jesus put his finger on that one thing he couldn’t let go of—his wealth.
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. Matthew 19:21-22
He called some of his disciples away from their occupations. They left their jobs to follow Him.
At once they left their nets and followed him. Matthew 4:20
The more I learn about God, the more I realize how much I don’t know about Him. I can’t nail Him down. I can’t put Him in a neat nice box with a pretty red bow on top. I try to get a grasp on Him, but just when I think I have a good grip, He seems to escape my hold.
I have to stop trying to figure God out. I’ll never be able to do it this side of heaven. I am not going to always understand why He does the things He does.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
I have to let go and let God be God. He wants me to trust, to rest in Him. He wants me to enjoy Him. Enjoy being with Him. To praise Him, to bring requests to Him and lift them up, but then I need to let God be God—and stop telling God how to be God.
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” Isaiah 30:15
There’s strength in quiet trust. There’s freedom in letting go and letting God be God.
After all, we never really have control anyway.
I have to constantly remind myself of this. Daily die to self. Daily let go and surrender. Stop being a ‘back-seat’ driver. Let God have control of the steering wheel and sit back and enjoy the ride.
We are all like those townspeople. When we encounter Jesus, we have a choice to make. Will we ask Him to stay and take up residence in our hearts, or will we ask Him to leave?
We can’t contain Him. Can’t control Him. Can’t figure Him out.
But He’s good! He can be trusted.
Total surrender is key to experiencing a total God!
So who’s driving your car?