Luke 8:26-39 tells the dramatic story of Jesus’ encounter with

a man of the city who had demons.

This is not a story about some unfamiliar, crazed individual who needs to be locked away from civilized society.This is not a story about an evil vicious criminal whose behaviour must be controlled for the safety of the community.

This is a story about me. I am this man who has “demons.” I have an “unclean spirit,” a dark side to my personality that is graphically portrayed in the action of these demons when Jesus orders them to leave the man,

the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.(Luke 8:33)

This force that names itself, “Legion” lives inside my head. It is a cacophany of voices constantly chattering in my brain. “Legion” seeks to destroy life. It undermines human relationships, creating friction and turmoil in the human community and sowing chaos in place of God’s good order for all of creation. It comes from the dark empty “abyss” and keeps me perched preciously and fearfully on the edge of the great sadness I seek to flee.

There are so many times I am “drowned” by negativity, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, envy, anger, even hatred. The voices are never fully silent. They speak with words of accusation and recrimination. They tell lies and offer tantalizing temptations.  My head is filled at times with the dark energy of distrust, doubt and fear. These voices are “Legion” indeed.

“Legion” promises that, if only I heed its endless enticing chatter, it will bestow upon me safety and security in this timebound material physical realm. But “Legion’s” language is the language of lies. When I follow “Legion’s” bidding I encounter only pain and suffering.

I may not act out as dramatically as the violent criminal, but Jesus made it clear that the thinnest line separates me from the murderer (Matthew 5:21,22).

I need to face these demons in me and to acknowledge the voices in my head.

Too often I avoid confronting the awkward reality of this dark side of my inner life. I try to banish the darkness. I only want to see the light. So I close my eyes to my condition. I seek to remove “Legion” from my “house” believing I can force it to live outside the city of my life among “the tombs.” I struggle to control these voices working to keep them

under guard and bound with chains and shackles. (Luke 8:29)

I want to live in a nice, happy, civilized place among people who are always kind, gentle and respectful. I want to be always well behaved and full of light But, I know this tidy pleasing picture is not my reality or the reality of the world I inhabit. Again and again “Legion” breaks “the bonds” by which I seek to keep him under control and I am “driven by the demon into the wilds.”

I am left isolated and alone. I am cut me off from human discourse alienated from the light that is my true nature. When I am held captive by these dark forces, the light seems to me to be a threat and a danger. Confronted by Jesus, “Legion” falls down and cries out

What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me. (Luke 8:28)

“Legion” is not a problem for Jesus. Jesus is not afraid of “Legion”. Jesus knows that the power of love and light is stronger than the brokenness of my life. He knows that the way to healing lies along the path of awareness and honesty. When I am willing to acknowledge the voices in my head and see their destructive intent, they lose their power to destroy.

Like Jesus I do not need to be afraid. I only need to stop running. Stand still and face the darkness.

Jacob Boehme wrote,

If you stand firm, if you do not bend,
you shall see and perceive great wonders.
You will discover how Christ will storm the hell in you
and will break your beasts.

It is possible for the power of love to restore me to my “right mind.” When I stop fleeing and pretending that I am other than I know myself so often to be, I meet the power of love on my path and I want only to be in this presence.

The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with Jesus. (Luke 38)

But, I am healed, not only in order that my life might be more sane and stable. I am restored to my “right mind” in order that I might be restored to all those relationships that have been broken by my violence. Healing is always towards restoration.

Jesus sent the man away, saying,

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you. (Luke 8:39)

The sign that I am healed is that I am again free to be in relationship. I am able, even within the pain and the darkness, to hold the light with you and to live with you in a way that bears testimony to the power of love at work in my life. This is the power for which our hearts long.