A few months ago I decided to “walk through” the gospel of Mark as a part of my morning devotions. By “walk through”, I mean that I do not read in order to finish the gospel, per se. Rather, I kind of “stroll”, stopping at whatever catches my imagination, reading only until a phrase or a word gives me pause, makes me think for a moment or two. Some days I may read a whole chapter. of the gospel. Those days are quite rare. Most days, indeed almost every day, I only read a phrase or two, maybe a few verses. Recently I was stopped by a phrase at the beginning of chapter five; “the man (a demoniac) lived among the tombs.” (5:3)
It struck me that no matter what the cultural setting may have been, to live among the tombs is live among the dead, the lifeless. In other words, to live in the past. It is to be limited by the memory of what once was but is no more. It is spending time, energy and money in an attempt to re-capture or replicate whatever glory we believe the past held.
I know that the story is essentially about an exorcism, but it is also more than a simple exorcism. Is it possible that the story is also told to remind us that God can and does free us from the various “tombs” of our own past. Often we think that we are bound or limited by our yesterdays. The story, though, may be telling us that by grace we can be freed from the “chains and shackles” that weight us down.
Some of us live too much in the past and hallow it to our own detriment. Others are wooed too much by the future and comfort themselves saying, “I’ll be happy when…I’m older, I get out of school, get my first job, get married, become a mother or father, receive an inheritance, get a promotion, become CEO, get my dream job, etc. The list is endless.
Look too much at the past or too much toward the future and you miss the present. It is in the present where life is lived, one day at a time. That it is where the living God is found, too. Right here, right now. Today, my friends, is a glimpse of grace.