When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “Legion,” he replied, because many demons had gone into him. - Luke 8:28-30
When I did my Bible word search this morning I put in the word "solitary." I was fully expecting to get one or two verses about how Jesus went to a solitary place to pray, and I did get those results (Matt 14:13, Mark 1:35, Mark 6:32, Luke 4:42)
But an interesting addition in the NIV translation is this verse in Luke 8. I checked it out in about 5 other translations and none of them use the word "solitary." They all say he went into the wilderness, or he went into the desert.
To be fair, I did also just look up the Mark 6:32 verse in those 5 translations and only one of them uses "solitary" as well. The versions range from "a secluded place where they could be alone" to actually also saying "the desert."
Now a good Bible scholar would go looking up the Greek but as I've never done that and I will have to actually go to work at some point, I'm not sure that I'm up for it today. But what I find so interesting is this:
Where did Jesus go when he needed to meet with God: Solitary
Where did the demon-possessed man go: Solitary
If A=B and C=B, then perhaps we can say that the demon-possessed man actually went to the one place where he could find God?
I don't know, this is a new idea to me too, so I'm not sure how well it holds up, but I think about how, when we're deeply in pain, or deeply in sin, we tend to retreat from the world, from our friends and family, and while we may ardently desire their comforting presence, we may not feel able or worthy to receive their love. So we retreat to the wilderness of our own minds, where the shoulda, coulda, wouldas swirl like sandstorms behind our eyelids. We are in pain, we are lost, we are lonely, we are worthless.
And yet it is there where God meets us. It is often when we are in the wilderness, when we are in that solitary place where we finally open ourselves up to the world, let down our shields and our self-preservation and say "Look! I can't do this. I have no ability to handle this life by myself. I give up."
And at that moment of vulnerability, when we have flung our arms wide before the ravenous lions of hatred and disease and death that God says "Finally!" and comes in to where we have previously kept Him out. And He lifts us gently out of the pit, past the lions, and lays us down in the grass by the cool river.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? When you were ready to give up, to succumb to the lies in your head, to accept that your life would never change, that you could not ever get out of debt, that you would never find anyone who understands you and your needs...
And did God meet you there?
If He hasn't yet, He will.