God’s Word for Today: Permission
Mark 5:9-13 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. A large heard of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.
Yesterday, I was on a return trip from Brazil. Just a few kilometers from the last city before you cross from Brazil into Paraguay, we were stopped at a Federal Police check point.
I have been stopped many times in Paraguay for similar searches, but this was my first in Brazil. These Federal Police meant business. They have flak jackets, M16 automatic rifles, and a whole assortment of military stuff decorating their beings. This is not your local deputy in his cowboy hat with a pistol and Taser. These Federal Police are suited for war.
We were asked to exit the car, leaving it open for searching. And, demanded of our identifying documents. First thing they ask when you passed them your identification is “What is your name?” I could have let my dry humor kick in and thrown out a Tom Jones or something, but common sense said “NO”. So, while I was thinking humor, my mouth stayed in check and presented my name exactly like the driver’s license says. Pretty swift and efficient way for them to make sure you don’t have a hidden identity.
After about 20 minutes with our documents disappearing into their command center, a new, “I am in charge type character” reappeared with our identities in his hand. He did not look pleasant. Maybe slightly irritated, I couldn’t say for sure. But, the questioning started again. My good friend, his wife, their little boy, and the car we were driving all passed the scrutiny of questions and inspections. Then, he looked at me. Apparently a Nebraska Driver’s license isn’t quite the Golden ticket needed to ease their suspicion. He demanded my passport.
My passport is a whole separate story. It has been a challenge for the last two years learning how to handle my Permission Visa. Paraguay would rather you not bother them with renewal every 90 days (permission period). They prefer you simply pay a small fine upon exit from their country. I have not exited for a while. My last Visa in my Passport has gathered a pretty good film of dust (like 9 months expired). I didn’t not want to produce my Passport that not only had a very expired Visa, it also did not contain any documentation giving me permission to be in Brazil.
I mumbled something about my Passport only had to be shown to Immigration and not Federal Police, (per Paraguay Immigration friend). But I will admit, I mumbled quickly in English as I was proceeding to my computer bag to produce my Passport.
I conveniently had it open to my identifying picture and information page (which doesn’t expire until 2022) and handed the rather strict and firm officer my potential problem for existence. He calmly compared the information between my Passport and Driver’s License, glanced through the many stamps and Visas, smiled, handed back all documents, and told us to “have a good day”. No demon expelled, and I wasn’t thrown into a lake. We resumed our journey.
Today’s scripture is a pretty cool story. Except maybe, for the owner of the 2000 pigs, not so cool. But, I have always imagined this possessed man who had a whole slew of demons consuming his life. Along came Jesus to clean house. The demons thought they could talk Jesus into just letting them leave quietly and survive until they could find another victim. Jesus knew the only way to protect others was to literally “flush” the demons down the drain. Thus, giving the demons permission to go into the pigs and then the pigs rushing into the lake and drowning was in effect, a pretty good flush. Fish food I suppose.
Today, think of what might be consuming your life. Maybe not as a demon possessed type person, but maybe a few visas in your life that have long since expired and need tended too. Or maybe, you have cleaned out the demons that were ruining your world, but they have kinda hung around just waiting for a chance to climb aboard and take you for another downward spiral. Either way, today is a good day to give all the bad, permission to go jump in the lake and drown. No more coming back. No more haunting your weak moments. Gone, drowned, dead, expired, fish food…………
Prayer: Dear Lord, I thank you for always being there to identify me as one of your children. Forgive me for the times I have let the bad of this world take control. Today Lord, I ask that you help me. Please send the bad to the lake to drown. So that, I may continue on the journey you have laid out for my life. In Jesus’, who will always renew your permission to travel with God, name I pray. Amen and amen.