Lenten Devotional: Saturday, Feb. 28

by Rebecca Alpaugh
Feb. 28, 2015

Scriptures from The Message translation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 — The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!  Look at it! 

Mark 1:23-28 — Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a  man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out, “What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you’re up to! You’re the Holy One and you’ve come to destroy us!”

Jesus shut him up, “Quiet! Get out of him!” The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms protesting loudly-and got out.
Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. “What’s going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!”

I was on the path of peace and strength and satisfaction in my soul
Then the voices of my old demons started to remind me of my doubts
I could feel their cold hands on my shoulders pushing me off the path
I thought I’d finally escaped from them
But they are always there just waiting for me to turn so they can catch my eye
So now I sit and breathe so they can’t push me deeper into the darkness
I used to try and run but running only makes them faster and stronger
Today I look them in the eye and let them pass
I watch them as they disappear into the horizon
I think I hear another one behind me but when I look back there are no more demons
Can I finally let them go?
Will I run to catch them again?
Even though they cause me pain, they are familiar

I wrote this poem on a Monday before the Mark scripture was the reading the next Sunday. (I wish I could say it was in response to reading the lectionary before Sunday but that was not the case.) I have been pondering this subject since then. In Sunday school we shared how all of us felt like we had demons that we were battling. Demons of extreme self-doubt, addictions, greed, fear, etc. But as I continue to think about this I wonder why sometimes we have so much trouble letting go of our demons.

Jesus simply told the demon to get out and after some protests he left the man.  I wonder how the man felt. Did he feel any need to run after the demon and say, “Come on back in. Sure you make me uncomfortable, but I know what to expect from you. I’ve gotten used to being miserable with you living in me. How am I supposed to know how to live happily and freely?”

These are the questions I ask myself about the issues I call demons in my life. Jesus told that demon to get out and he did. Is this a part of scripture I can believe in my own life? And if I do what does that look like?  Does it look like the new burgeoning life in the Corinthians verse? Does it mean that old life burdened by demons is really gone? Can I look at this new life with all of it’s promises or do I want to hang on to the old life just a little longer? After all I’ve gotten pretty good at handling the havoc my demons wreak on my life. Just let them go and open up to the goodness that God has promised in this new life?

I plan to continue to consciously live with these questions through Lent. But this year I am choosing to open myself to new life promised through Christ’s resurrection. I will remind myself that Jesus told the demon to be quiet and get out. I will create a new habit of looking at my burgeoning new life and let go of my habit of calling those old demons back. And with God’s help I will look at new life everyday with gratitude and awe.

Prayer: Oh God, it is so hard for me to accept the glorious new life you promise. I am much more comfortable being miserable and keeping those old demons around because I have allowed them to become familiar friends. Help me open myself to the love and friendship you so freely offer, amazing Creator. Help me open myself to the people you have placed in my life who show me what your love and friendship and forgiveness look like. Help me tell the demons, “Quiet. Get out…” Help me to open my eyes and heart to look and really see the new life that is already a reality. Help me to know and accept the limitless, unconditional love that you offer.  Amen.