(a fictional account)
The couple sat outside beneath the starry sky fulfilling their nightly, after-dinner ritual as the animals of the night quietly began to stir. Neither needed much conversation; their nearness was enough. She gently lifted his arm and cradled it in her lap as her fingers tenderly stroked the many deep scars on his forearm. Though the night was young, they were not.
She had not only fallen in love many years ago with this handsome man, but she’d also fallen in love with the story those slash marks revealed. Though it happened before they met, it was that story that convinced her to follow a new path. She had heard him tell it often; so often that she had a hard time believing she’d not been a part of it.
It began when evil took control of the man’s body. Some thought he was insane, while others insisted he had been filled with powerful demonic spirits. He became so uncontrollable that they unsuccessfully bound him with chains. Afraid for themselves and their families, they ran him out of town to live among the tombs. He ripped off his clothes and often cut his forearms with stones – though it was the evil within causing him to do it. The more he tried to get free, the tighter the unwanted grip became. The wicked spirits enjoyed the hold they had on the man until the day Jesus walked near the tombs.
Maneuvering closer and closer to this “unsuspecting” newcomer, the wild man sensed something unfamiliar happening inside him. He felt a weakening inside that caused him to suddenly fall to his knees. Unbelievably, he heard himself cry out, “What do you want from me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torment me!” Many thought that merely knowing the name of someone gave them power over a person. However, Jesus didn’t seem the least bit fazed. Instead, he asked, “What is your name?” The evil spirits in the man were still trying to gain the upper hand and answered, “My name is Legion!” They thought the sheer number of them would intimidate the Son of God. Seeing He was unafraid, they asked to be sent into a herd of pigs that were grazing off in the distance. When Jesus obliged them, the pigs ran off a cliff, into the lake and drowned, and their caretakers ran away.
As the woman silently sat recalling the amazing story, she felt her husband’s breath on her cheek. He placed his hand over her fingers that had been absent-mindedly stroking his scars, lifted her chin, and with smiling eyes remarked, “You’ve been thinking about Jesus again, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I have. I’m so glad you came back to tell all of us about Him! It was your story that gave me the courage to let go of the things holding me captive.”
“How could I keep that story to myself!” the man responded. “After the men tending the pigs ran away, I realized I had been clothed by Jesus himself – completely wrapped in His loving kindness. I sat at His feet and listened to all He had to say. I know what it’s like to be overpowered by evil, and I also know what it feels like to have that heavy weight lifted off by the presence of Jesus. I want everyone to know that feeling.”
The woman gathered the hem of her faded robe into one hand, reached up, and dried the tracks of her man’s tears. As the night breeze blew a stray strand of gray across her eyes, she lifted his forearm to her lips and kissed his scars of victory.
“The man from whom the demons had departed begged [Jesus] earnestly to be with him. But he sent him away and said, ‘Go back to your home, and tell all that God has done for you.’ And off he went, proclaiming throughout the town how much Jesus had done for him.” Luke 8:38-39