Sermons

Summary: If we are captured by a demonic past, then we will try to break our chains and will seem to succeed. But the old demons come back to haunt us, for we have not yet turned to the One who gives permission to send them away.

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She drifted into my office on a stormy afternoon, much like those we’ve just gone through. She had no appointment, nor did she even ask if I had time to talk. She just drifted in and hovered over my desk, tears in her eyes, lip quivering. I invited her to sit down and tell me what was wrong. She refused to sit down, but she did blurt out, “In answer to your question, EVERYTHING! Everything is wrong.” Of course I asked, “Everything? Tell me about that.”

And she did. For an hour, two hours, three maybe, she told me about everything that was wrong. Health – in jeopardy; education – incomplete; job – terminated; family – parents divorced and in conflict; romance – non-existent; finances – just trying to get by; church – an argument here, a misunderstanding there. And faith? Well, the words were there about her faith being strong, but the face and the tears suggested that it was not. Everything was wrong. She finally did sit down so that at least we could look one another in the eye and get down beneath this legion of issues.

I knew that afternoon that this would not be a quick fix. This would not be an instance when I could trot out a couple of Scriptures and say, “Take these and call me in the morning.” This would be a long-term struggle. The issues were overwhelming. They were legion. And I felt some tension too. After all, I had sermons to preach, a budget to raise, hospital visits to make. I had neither the time nor the skill to help her resolve this profound mess. How could she live through a legion of overwhelming issues? And how could I, with all my limitations, possibly release her from all that tied her down?

For if, you see, we are captured by a difficult past, so much so that the present seems demonic, then we will try to break our chains over and over, and will for a time succeed. But we will find that the old demons come back to haunt us, for we have not yet turned to someone who can name them and give us permission to discard them. When we turn to someone who will help us send our demons away, then our legion of issues is lost, and our language turns from self-pity to praise. Legions lost mean language loosed.

When Jesus stepped out of the boat, fresh from calming the stormy Sea of Galilee, another storm hit Him right away. No time to rest, no opportunity to shake off seasickness, no chance to interpret to His disciples the “Peace, be still” He had spoken to the wind and the waves. A new storm, this one in the guise of a man with a legion of problems and a desperate voice. A man who embodies our internal tensions, for he on the one hand ran toward Jesus, as if he wanted help, but then on the other side he screamed at the teacher, “What have you to do with me, Jesus … do not torment me.” When we are beset with overwhelming issues, and our problems are complex, we rush to those we think might help, but at the same time we reject them and fear them. We get lost in the legion of evils.

For if, you see, we are captured by a difficult past, so much so that the present seems demonic, then we will try to break our chains over and over, and will for a time succeed. But we will find that the old demons come back to haunt us, for we have not yet turned to someone who can name them and give us permission to discard them. When we turn to someone who will help us send our demons away, then our legion of issues is lost, and our language turns from self-pity to praise. Legions lost mean language loosed.


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