“1 They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes.
2And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.
3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain,
4for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him.
5Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.
6And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.
7And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
8For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”
9And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
10And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country.
11Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside,
12and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.”
13So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.
14The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened.
15And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.”
– Mark 5:1-15
I was having lunch with a friend who came back from Australia just a few days ago and he started sharing about a suicide case he had a part of. Well not exactly but he knew the housemate of the guy who killed himself. Apparently the 3 of them even went to the same church. It was actually really disturbing. The guy gashed his own neck with a knife in his own bathroom and left behind a floor full of blood. And as he probably realised by then that he could not die immediately, he managed to wrap himself up, drive out to a mall, and jump from off the building. May God have mercy on his soul.
I’ve never heard of anybody with such great determination to die. Apparently this guy has a case file of his psychiatric records with him. His housemate found it after he was gone. My friend told me that this guy obviously has issues. And I’m wondering how come nobody noticed. I also learnt that while he sought God in church, he was also practising yoga to find inner peace.
Yoga. Actually I was just thinking about it that very day during my quiet time. What inspired my thoughts was the passage above. Yoga is a topic I’ve written about a few times because of my personal experience and though brief an experience, I know when the spirit of discernment kicks in to say what I seek from the practice itself, is not the method through which God intends to deliver peace. Yes, all the advertisement for yoga says that it promotes peace within, a calm mind, a soothing spirit. But hear what God says:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27
Notice the ‘not as the world gives’.
Trying to practice yoga to ease the anger, sooth the nerves, find peace within ourselves is like trying to bind the man in the unclean spirit (v.2) in the passage from Mark. Notice how he was often binded by shackles and chains by people, but those can never restrain him (v.3, 4). People cannot subdue him. Even strong chains cannot keep him down. Check out v.15 this time. Since all of men’s efforts to contain this man did nothing and proved fruitless, what was it that set him in the right mind again, and drove the demons out of the man? Jesus did.
Jesus said that He is the only one who can give peace. Not as the world gives and all the methodology the world tries. They are all but temporal measures. Even in this instance, hearing such a disturbing story, I’m tempted to ask the question: “If he goes to church, how come God did not give him peace?” My possible answer is, he may go to church, but he may not have fully sought the Lord. We’d never know. But I know with confidence that based on personal experience, at the very least, His word stands true, as He once said this in Jeremiah 29:13-14,
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD”
What He simply asks for is your whole heart. Not try a method of the world (eg yoga) concurrently. It’s kind of like being in a committed relationship yet dating some other people on the side. I remember a pastor once said that God wants us to be single-minded about Him, instead of double-minded. Even a man who does not believe in God is single-minded. It was a call to not embrace the ways of the world and embrace God at the same time, for in His word, He said
“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelations 3:16
We will certainly go no where with God with our double-mindedness.
I have found my peace in Him time and again that way, seeking Him completely with all that I am. It’s interesting how many times we think we have given everything over to Him but we haven’t really. God uses that time of seeking to reveal that to us. Peace that may not be instantaneous but peace that will ultimately come after He slowly tears down all the stuff that is preventing me from receiving the peace that He wants me to have. I pray that you too will find that peace, peace as the world does not offer, but peace that only God can.