As the wandering fly-fishing pray-er David Hansen has rightly observed, “Sometimes those who love Jesus don’t get what they want.”
I know; it’s shocking.
One man who had a radical life-changing encounter with Jesus prayed a prayer that, it would seem, landed square in the center of the Lord’s greatest desire for him.
“Jesus, allow me to be with you.” This sort of prayer ought to spark overwhelming joy in the heart of Jesus who says to us, “Come and follow me.”
Shockingly, Jesus refused the man’s request. Did you catch that? Jesus denied the man’s request to be at Jesus’ side. Here’s what I wonder. Jesus had just set the man free from the destructive grip of the Evil One and his minions. Did the man want to be with Jesus simply to have more of his needs met? We don’t know, but I have to wonder. Jesus quickly redirected the man’s attention to the purpose for which he was set free – to go home to his friends and tell them how much the Lord had done for him and what mercy Jesus had shown him.
The man did not get what he wanted. This is even more surprising given the fact that those in the story (found in Mark 5) who are opposed to Jesus did receive what they asked of him! They asked Jesus to leave town and he did!
“Sometimes those who love Jesus don’t get what they want,” Hansen continues his observation in his book, “Long Wandering Prayer.” “He enjoins us to stay and tell the story so that the people who want Jesus to leave will not be without him.”
The man was not set free in order to cuddle up next to Jesus. He was set free to proclaim the good news of Jesus. In order to do that, the man was sent back to his hometown. We can be assured that what Jesus would later say was already true, “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus calls his followers to be living storyboards in the contexts in which he has put us. After all, Jesus did not say, “Follow me, and I will meet all your felt needs.” He says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people.”
Go fish. Tell the story. It’s why we’re here.