The terror of normal

He was a guy. He was sitting, calmly, listening to Jesus. He looked normal.

And he was.

People from the neighborhood came out to see Jesus. They heard about pigs flying. Flying like lemmings that is, leaping from cliffs like ones possessed. They heard about a huge stampede, an economic crisis in an agricultural community.

When the people found Jesus, they saw this guy, sitting calmly, listening to Jesus.

People took one look at him and were terrified.

Everyone from the neighborhood knew him. He wasn’t supposed to be normal. He was supposed to uncontrollable. He was supposed to be Bruce Banner stuck in Incredible Hulk mode. He was supposed to break chains and defy reason. He was supposed to be possessed.

He lived among the dead, crying out to unhearing ears. No one bothered him among the tombs. No one cared anymore, now that he had moved away from town, away from the social constraints that no longer constrained him.

They heard his cries, I suppose, at night. Cries of anguish before he cut himself. Cries of pain after. But at least the pain of cut flesh was real, blood more tangible than the torturing voices in his head.

Jesus landed on the coast one day. Talked to the man, or more accurately, to the spirit that filled him, consumed him. Sent the spirit into the pigs, who ran off the cliff and drowned.

That’s the part we focus on, the flying pigs, the evil spirit Legion. We wonder whether it could be true.

The man, however, knew how out of his mind he had been. He knew the miracle of normal. And when the people in terror begged Jesus to leave, Jesus left a little reminder: a man, once wrecked, now normal,  to say simply, “Jesus did this.”

The full story is in Mark 5:1-20.

7 thoughts on “The terror of normal

  1. Diane Brogan

    I read this post and didn’t get your point. Unconsciously, I took all of your words and put them into a mixing bowl and found peace when I remixed your thoughts.
    I am having a difficult time hearing of all the devestation in Japan or other places being hit by natural disasters. Normal would be so wonderful for all these people.
    My prayer is for Jesus to come along and make everything normal again.

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    1. Jon Swanson

      i think, diane, that this is a reflection kind of post. I’m not sure that there is a point, not in a “here’s the moral of the story” way.

      You capture the struggle of following well.

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  2. Rich Dixon

    Hmmm…the “terror” of normal. I wonder–if I stood up and walked this morning and told people, “Jesus did this,” how many would celebrate, how many would scoff, and how many would be terrified?

    And which group would I be in?

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  3. Juidth Wilson Burkes

    Funny thing is we don’t even get to know his name. Bible doesn’t record it. But, his story is here for us to ponder and discuss.

    So many people don’t want to be normal. They want to be the next Oprah or the next Bill Gates. I have learned that there is a beautiful glory to God in being “normal.” My version of it. Not a poor replica of someone else. As as God came and visited an unknown man outside of Jerusalem, He can visit me.

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    1. Jon Swanson

      Yep. I love that we don’t know his name. And I love that you stopped by. And I encourage anyone who wants to get a window on some of what this man was wrestling with and the challenge of chronic life to look and Judith’s blog.

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