Reverend Phil seemed seven feet tall to me when I was a child. He could have been a captain at sea or a firefighter or a police chief, but he was a pastor. One Sunday night, his deep voice caught my attention as he unfolded the story of a wild and violent man whose encounter with Jesus changed everything.
A demon-possessed man roamed the tomb-filled hills of the Gadarenes. Everyone feared him, and no one could tame him. They managed to shackle him, but he broke the chains. Then Jesus came to the area—the one Man who could unshackle his heart.
When the man saw Jesus, he said,
“What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me” (Mark 5:7 NKJV).
Jesus didn’t hurt him; He helped him. The man had many demons, and Jesus sent them all out of the man into a nearby herd of pigs. The pigs “ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned” (Mark 5:13 NKJV).
When the people of the area came out to see what had happened, the man who had been demon-possessed was sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. That made the people afraid. They learned what happened to the pigs and wanted Jesus to leave.
Reverend Phil’s characterization of their attitude toward Jesus, was memorable. It was as if they said to Him, “We don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as You leave here.” The healed man’s reaction was just the opposite: “I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You.”
Does your heart want to stay with Jesus, no matter what? Have you come to love and trust Him so that you could say with the healed man, I don’t care where You go or what You do, as long as I can go with You?
In the book of Ruth, we find someone who inspires us to have a wholehearted devotion to God. Ruth wanted to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, even when Ruth’s husband had died. This is what Ruth said when Naomi made plans to leave Moab and go back to Judah.
“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17 NKJV)
Have you ever loved someone so much that you felt this way about him or her? Have you ever loved God so much, that you said something like this to Him? Wherever You go, I will go. Wherever You stay, I will stay. I am Yours, and You are mine. I will not let go.
Are we willing to give up anything and everything for God? Are we willing to leave behind all of the things that distract us from following Him closely? The more we know Him, the more certain we become that we can trust His heart and rest in His goodness and wisdom. We find that God satisfies our souls and gives us good things. He is a Father who loves us and a Best Friend who shares all of life’s adventures with us. Our hearts will say to Him, “I will stay with You.”
Copyright © 2015 by Katy Kauffman, Faith, Courage, and Victory: The Stories, Struggles, and Triumphs of 24 Characters of the Bible (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2015), 45-50. Adapted for this website. Used with permission.