15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.
18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people’.
Jesus calms the storm then immediately afterwards:
35 and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man . . . sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind.
38 The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 ‘Return home’.
One of the most challenging aspects of running a supported housing project is endings.
Some endings are premature and you find yourself having a conversation with the resident about not being fully ready for life in recovery just now. However, even when things go really well and a resident has made great progress, the ending can be difficult to cope with.
I think this is because as a resident recovers their dignity, confidence and self-respect they begin to resent the care and support they are receiving. The aspects of communal life they valued at first, structure, routine and boundaries are resented – “it’s worse than prison in here”. They begin to mentally prepare to leave by resenting and severing the very relationships that have nurtured them to this point – “you’re making my life hell”, “you’ve never done anything for me”, “you never listened to me”.
This ending can be really heart-breaking for a member of the resident support team.
Jesus calms the Torment
I’ve been thinking about the way Jesus met with a man who was so distraught he couldn’t remember his own name. The different parts of his personality were so blown apart that they were at war with each other. Instead of being integrated there were ‘many of him’. Polarised and ill at ease the parts of Legion tormented him.
The presence of Jesus brought these parts together and blended them, so people found the man quietly sitting, having acquired he dignity of clothing and ‘in his right mind’. After the storm Jesus calms his tormented mind, quietens all the parts and aligns them in peaceful harmony.
Jesus and Transition
Naturally, the man wants to stay with Jesus – Lord let me go with you.
I will follow you, serve you, love you, devote myself to you.
We are expecting Jesus to “yes”, “come follow me” but shockingly Jesus does something totally different.
Jesus says “no, that’s not how this is going to work. I need you to go home”.
Jesus turns his back on the man and walks away. Jesus doesn’t let him get in his boat and sets off without the man.
Risking feelings of hurt and rejection, Jesus ignored his pleas, his desperate cries ringing in his ears.
Before the resurrection, before the ascension, before the gift of the Holy Spirit and the ever-present Christ, Jesus walks away.
Why does Jesus turn his back on the man he has so recently restored?
I imagine it was hard for Jesus to respond like that. To think to himself, “my work here is done”.
I am releasing you and commissioning you back into your community – you are not to be physically tied to me.
I have already given you all the resources that you need to flourish.
I am trusting you now, I am leaving.
There is a maturity of faith in Jesus that allows us to move to the next stage. Utter dependency on Jesus is everything, but there is a neediness about intense intimacy that risks us not being able to fulfil our potential.
So, we let our residents go, believing in them to make good choices and if they mess up, as we will do, then like Jesus we are right there to pick them up, restore, renew and send them on their way again.
Perhaps the times when you don’t feel Jesus really close are not the times he was carrying you, but the times he was trusting you.
Let us not fear the challenging ending.
Partnership Manager South West