As a 19 year old American college student, the one thing I knew I wanted was to go to Intervarsity Chapter Camp and learn to lead a Bible Study. That desire made me a less than typical 19 year old, but I am forever grateful for the week of training that acted as a catalyst for the course my life has taken. I longed to be a leader, a good leader. I wanted to take an active part in leading people to know Jesus better. After attending Chapter Camp, I realized I had a long way to go in leading other people, especially in leading others to understand the Bible.

The first passage I was assigned to break down inductively for a small group of peers was the story of the Demon Possessed man who was healed in Mark Chapter 5. At the time, I couldn’t seem to ask questions that drew deep answers from anyone about that passage, mainly because I was at a loss about what great lesson I could take from a story about Jesus casting out demons and sending them into a herd of pigs who ran off a cliff! To me, it was sort of a long-shot to come away with more than, “Wow, that’s an odd story.” Truthfully, I was wrestling in my heart with what I would do if I ever encountered a demon, and I had no answers for anyone, nor questions that drew answers from anyone!

I spent the summer using my brother as a practice buddy, leading him through studies on the Bible that had much more relevance in my mind. I can’t say that I felt ready to lead a Bible study the following school year, but I cannot recall one study as painful as that first study I led on Mark 5. For years, I would flit back to that passage and wonder, “what would I do with it now?” Sometimes I would imagine myself being more honest about my struggle with the passage. Other times I pictured a deep discussion about spiritual warfare. Something always gnawed at me about the story, though. I knew there was some deep insight that eluded me.

For sure, the straight forward message of Jesus’ power and willingness to bring freedom to the captives of darkness stands large in the story…but why the pigs? Why did they run off the cliff? What happened with the demons after that? I remained confused about why that story was relevant in the Living Word of God. I had a few conversations with the Lord about it over the years. I used to be embarrassed at my inability to draw life from the passage. The Lord helped me see the humor in that scene from Chapter Camp, and I found peace in knowing I didn’t have to have all the answers. Really, I let go of it all, choosing to allow the Lord his mystery!

This past summer, exactly 16 years later, my father-in-law gave us a MP3 dramatization of the New Testament. We listened to it in the car nearly every day, running errands or going on adventures. It took us a couple months to finish. At the end of the reading of Revelation, the producers of the recording shared testimonies of how their ministry has been making an impact around the world. The stories brought me to tears. Then, to my great excitement and astonishment, there was a story about the passage in Mark 5!

The group “Faith Comes by Hearing” produce this dramatization in languages around the world. One indigenous African tribe with no written language had an opportunity to listen to the Bible in their own language for the first time. They were troubled by the story of Jesus in Mark 5, commenting, “I thought Jesus was good!?” It seems that they could not understand why Jesus would destroy the livelihood of the pig farmer. In their culture, a large heard of pigs would be the equivalent of several hundred thousand dollars in American culture. After arguing and discussing, the elders of the tribe finally came to a consensus on the message Jesus meant to convey in this act. The demon possessed man reminded them of an outsider in their own tribe. And although he was troublesome and annoying to the average tribes-person, to God, the life of one person, no matter his situation, was worth a great deal. Jesus was making a statement on the value of human life. This one man’s seemingly wasted life was worth more than anyone else was willing to pay. But Jesus took the time to help him and show the world that individuals are more important than we realize. This was the deeper message I longed to hear and know about this passage. I wept. I wept for joy and for gratitude and for a new understanding of what Jesus paid for my life. I wept because Jesus loved me enough to answer a question I had laid to rest. I wept because this was a new proof that the Word of God is active and living and useful and relevant. I wept because I felt connected to a group of people in Africa that I have never met. I wept because I felt the Lord’s pleasure.

So I share this story, still laughing that anyone would assign that passage to someone new to inductive Bible study, but more grateful than I can describe that they assigned it to me, so I could hear an answer 16 years later. It reminds me of Proverbs 25:2—“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” What answers has God concealed that your heart is searching out?