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Mark 067 - Change in Plans



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 to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”


Mark 5:18,19


When I make a plan, I like to stick to it. Yes, there are times when the unexpected comes knocking, but I still like to keep as close to the plan as possible. But sometimes it’s just not possible.


One day I made cold slaw from scratch, using a tried-and-true family recipe from my mother-in-law. When you follow her instructions, it guarantees results and wows from everyone at the table. I made it as something special to share with guests who were coming by. This is how I show people that they are special.


When our special friends arrived, they did something very un-special. They announced that they had stopped on the way over and picked up some fried chicken for supper. This was great. But then the wheels fell off.


As they were taking the fried chicken out of the bag, they talked about needing a side dish. I was almost sticking my chest out in swelling pride, about to announce my most recent cooking achievement. When they reached into the bag and pulled out a large, side dish container of, you guessed it, store bought cold slaw. When the large container hit the table with a thud, there was a bit of a buzzing in my head.


I had many choices racing through my head. One was just to quietly pout, sticking my lower lip out, walk out of the room, and refuse their chicken. One was to jump up and down, yelling about how insensitive they were, turning up their nose at my mothers-in-law’s coleslaw, may she rest in peace. There were about 27 other scenarios that quickly ran through my head. I’ll let you guess what I actually did.


Jesus also had unexpected changes in plans. He told the disciples that they needed some time away from the crowd. His plan was to “go over to the other side” of the lake[1]. After going through the storm that Jesus calmed[2], they come to a place for rest and relaxation. But instead, this demonic comes out of nowhere and totally disrupts Jesus’ plan.


But Jesus doesn’t freak out. He doesn’t throw a tantrum. He doesn’t go nuts. Instead, he takes over and helps this poor guy. He talks with him, or the spirits in him, and then releases them into 2,000 nearby pigs. Jesus and the disciples then help the newly freed guy, giving him clothing[3].


And after being “encouraged” to move on, the newly restored guy makes an understandable plea. As Jesus was stepping into the boat, the man begs, and begs, and begs Jesus to let him come along. But instead of Jesus looking for bigger numbers of followers on social media, he gently sends him in another direction.


Jesus wants this guy to change his plans. Jesus tells him not to do the most natural thing to do. The most understandable thing to do. The most logical thing to do. Jesus wants him to literally go in another direction. Jesus says trust me and do what I say.


And where’s the most effective place for this guy to go? Home. Jesus tells him that the best thing to do is to tell people that knew him. People he grew up with.


It wasn’t anywhere close to what the guy wanted to do. He wanted to hang out with Jesus. Follow the one who’d set him free. Telling people far and wide about how Jesus sent his demons away, drowning 2,000 pigs. After all, it was a great story, and 100% true. It would make a sensational piece on Hard Copy.


But that’s not the story that Jesus wanted told. Those aren’t the people Jesus wanted to be reached. Jesus didn’t want more strangers to know. He wanted this guy’s family, friends, neighbors, to know.


To put it in “church-ese,” Jesus didn’t need him to be a foreign missionary. Instead, he called him to be deeply active and committed to local missionary, evangelism, discipleship, and service ministries. Jesus even tells him what to say.


· How much the Lord has done for you

· How he has had mercy on you


Now, that’s a simple, straightforward message. Isn’t it? Not a lot of fluff. Not a lot of fanfare. Just a humble and easy message to share. Didn’t require great speaking skills. Didn’t need to type fast. Didn’t even need a 5G phone.


Only needed 15 words to tell the deeply personal and powerful story about his changed plans. What God has done, and his mercy.


How available are we to let God change our plans? To call the shots in our life?

[1] Mark 435 [2] Mark 4:37-39 [3] Luke 8:35

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