The lost one


Tornadoes touched down Sunday in a small town a little over an hour north of where I live in Oklahoma. Initially, news reports speculated two people had died in the storm. This morning, however, reports indicate one confirmed death. I didn’t know the person. I’m not even sure his/her name has been released to the public. But somebody out there is experiencing loss today. Not just the loss of a loved one but the loss of tornadic devastation.

I saw another news report about sixteen people who died in the same storm in Little Rock, AR.

I thought about how that number—16—seems so much bigger than one. I thought about how easily the one in Oklahoma can be lost among the sixteen in Arkansas.

That made me think of another time where numbers were significant.

Jesus and His disciples docked their boat and trekked up the hill to a small village in the Decapolis. It was a Gentile village, so Jesus was showing His disciples how He wanted to expand His ministry to the “unclean”. As the small group approached the outskirts of town, a wild beast of a man accosted them on the hillside. Naked and wild-eyed, the man bore little resemblance to a human anymore. He resided among the dead in the tombs. The townspeople had failed to contain him, so they left him to his misery. Broken chains hung from his wrists like iron reminders of his imprisonment. Blood dripped from the self-inflicted gashes in his skin. Filth spewed from his pores and his mouth. “What do you want from me?” he asked Jesus.

In the same breath, he begged Jesus not to torture him. A tortured soul asking not to be tortured? Can you even fathom that level of darkness?

Jesus recognized the evil within him and commanded the impure spirit to leave the man.

In a nearby field, some men were tending to several herds of pigs totaling two-thousand. They tended to pigs, but not to the man. I wonder if they had stopped seeing him.

Jesus saw him. Not the demon-crazed, tomb-bound man. He saw the man within. The human being crying out day and night, begging for mercy.

The demon called himself Legion. I always wondered if that name had some sort of evil meaning, but I read somewhere that was the largest unit of the Roman army, containing three-to-six-thousand soldiers.

Did the man have a legion of demons in him? A whole army of evil battling against his very soul? Perhaps, because “Legion” asked, nay begged, Jesus to grant permission (demons don’t TELL Jesus anything! They must bow to His power!) to enter the pigs.

Jesus agreed and the man was freed.

Immediately the herd of pigs rushed to the cliff and plummeted to the water below.

The people of the town were furious. How dare Jesus allow two-thousand innocent pigs to die all for one man! They vomited their disdain at Him and deigned to tell Him to never return to their village.

They got caught up in the numbers. Two-thousand pigs versus one man. (Mark 5:1-20)

But Jesus saw him, He had compassion on him, and He saved him. And to Jesus, one IS important: “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away” (Luke 15:7).

This story of the demon-possessed man can be quite haunting, but I find it comforting to know that even though I am just one person, I am an important one to Him.

May we pray for the families of the sixteen in Arkansas, the one in Oklahoma, and the other one, the lost one, the one that matters, always, to Him.


11 thoughts on “The lost one

  1. I appreciate you raising this point. I wonder how many of us really stop to think about the hurting families and not just today or this week, but also six months or a year from now. We remember events but don’t consider that…Indonesia and Japan and Haiti will be rebuilding for years; Birmingham and Tuscaloosa are still feeling their loss; the people in OKC and Moore cannot get over one EF5 for watching out for others.

    Your point about seeing people is what resonates with me. Just this past week I’ve been interacting with a person in great need but who probably has many issues. Yet I’ve been angered by Pharisees around me who have hurled the most derisive comments and attitudes regarding this person–and they are leaders in the church! Each ONE of us matters and we’ll understand that when we get the heart of God. Great post, Heather.

    • Thanks so much, Mike.
      We tend to move on, go on with our lives after tragedies strike “other” places. People are hurting everywhere. Each one matters to Him and should matter to us.
      I totally understand about the Pharisaical attitude invading our churches and its leaders. So sad that they can’t see, truly see, just how important “the least of these” is to Him.
      Be strong for the one, Mike, and keep your heart of and for God. The one will appreciate it. 🙂

  2. I know Tornado touched down in Kansas about 35 minutes away from where I live in missouri. Pretty bad. We were devasted just a few years ago.

  3. They got caught up in the numbers.

    When you lose a loved one there are no numbers. Pain can’t count. Numb is not a number. Heather, I struggled with the link between the deaths you relate, and then the bible lesson. Sort of seemed inappropriate. Not sure why. Yet as I wandered and wondered, came to the conclusion my wee comfort zones needed stretching. That demon and those pigs hold a very special place in my life and walk with The Lord.

    So special I was blind to seeing the truth you uncover here. That this son of god was less important that the welfare of this herd. That we do get caught up in “transactions” and validation in so many different cracks and crevices of our (my) life. That numb is numb, one is real, and sixteen allows us to be horrified but not touched.

    The demon and pigs and The Lord remain special. And my bristling comfort zones just became a little wider. Thank you.

    • Paul,
      First, let me apologize if my post was inappropriate or offensive in any way. You know that is never my intent. My goal is to share what God has placed on my heart and have faith it reaches His target.
      Second, you indicated the truth of my post as “this son of god was less important that the welfare of this herd”. I was saying that the demon-crazed man was MORE important than the herd of pigs. WAY more important. The people of that town – Gadara – treated the man like he was not important. Their reaction to Jesus’ healing proved that.
      Third, I understand about comfort zones being stretched. Every day I read posts here and scriptures that open my ears to God saying, “Pay attention, Heather!” He stretches us so He can mold us for His special purpose. 🙂
      Again, I am so very sorry for causing you any discomfort. I value your input, insight, and friendship, so I am truly grateful for your honesty. Thank you, Paul.

      • Heather – I am now discovering time zones as well – being six hours in front of you.

        What I love about this community is its generosity. I meant no offence nor took any, rather was surprised at my own reaction – and found that to be something I had never noticed before. Having noticed it (thanks to you) some overdue comfort zone stretching followed here. So thank you for your concern, expanding my comfort levels, and for being so very nice!

        I must figure out how to say stuff more clearly! 🙂

        >>> and our UK news featured some of your news – not good!

  4. Thanks Heather, as individuals we count, the church is one, but many in numbers.
    No one is too dirty, too wild or too insane for him to seek out and set free.

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