A man lived in the tombs. He was a throwaway person. And society had tossed him. They chained him hand and foot. But he broke the chains and streaked naked in the valley below. Scars, like tattoos covered his body. His shame exposed for the whole community to witness. He had no stronghold. No shoulder to lean on. No one cared. Trampled upon by the feet of circumstances and carried into captivity by whatever forces were too strong to be resisted.
“Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones” (Mark 5:4-5).
And, I’m sure, he felt cheap inside. So he cut. But there weren’t enough stones in the Middle East to take the pain away. No cut wide enough, no wound deep enough to release the pain he felt inside. There was only One who could help, only One who reached out.
When Jesus asked the man his name, he replied, “Legion.” And theologians tell us that in Jesus’ day, when you asked a person his name, then you were taking public responsibility for them. Jesus was saying, in essence, “You are now my responsibility. I am your secure attachment.”
Why the demoniac didn’t answer with his real name, we can’t say. Maybe his name was Paul or Ruben. But what he felt like in that moment was a man full of 6,000 demons. He was not in control. He had his addictions. And what he needed was a new stronghold, a new habitation. He needed a refuge in the Lord. (Psalm 18:2).
Dr. Curt Thompson writes, “It is not surprising, then, that the story of the Bible is ultimately one of Immanuel, God with us. God is present and connected in the face of our resistance and our terror. Jesus loves us in the quagmires of shame and desolation that we have created.”[i]
And we see this in the life of the demoniac. He needed a refuge in the Lord—a shield and a stronghold. Jesus knew his need for a secure attachment.
I have a friend who lives on a farm and he told me once that cows hide their calves for two days after they give birth. And if the cow leaves to get water or to graze, she will hide her newborn in the grass, where it lies down and remains perfectly quiet until the mother returns.
The calf under such circumstances seems to understand that it is “not at home,” and cannot be seen. The calf is hidden in the trust that its secure attachment will return. I love that. Hidden protectively from all foes because it trusts the mother’s stronghold.
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3). And I believe this is what the calf must feel when the mother hides him. He trusts her. And his mind is on his mother’s return and it calms him. In a sense, the mother never leaves the calf.
So set your mind on things above. We are Christ’s responsibility. He bought us with His blood. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And if we are His, then what should we worry about? God is responsible for what happens to us. He knows how to hide us in His stronghold. He will never leave us or forsake us. We have a secure attachment.
It should free us of feeling alone, of feeling that at any moment our world may cave in. You may even want to say to yourself, I am God’s responsibility. He is my stronghold. I’m hidden in Christ. He is my shoulder to lean on.
me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2).
[i] Curt Thompson, Anatomy of the Soul, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale Momentum, 2010), 111.