There’s all these stories about Jesus casting out demons and they have always seemed a little irrelevant to my life. It’s just not an everyday issue for me.
Until one day when it struck me that Jesus seemed to make a point of asking demons what their name was. I mean, what? Is it Meet-n-Greet time at church now?
“Hello, my name is Legion.”
“Hi Legion, I’m Son of the Most High God. I haven’t seen you here before, are you new?”
It struck me as unwise to ask their names because that was getting a little too personal. But maybe I was confusing unwise and scary. It’s scary to face a problem. It’s easier and safer to just pretend there isn’t anything there, or at least, if there is, that it’s just the way life is, it’s just how we are, there’s nothing we can do about it.
But we have to name our demons.
Not nicknames or pet names, as if we’re going to keep them around. Not even schoolyard names, as if we’re naive and emotional. But their actual, what-they-really-are names.
We name our demons so we can look them in the eye and tell them to go.
I swear, just naming them reduces their power at least by half. They are way more effective hiding in the shadows and behind masks where they’re scarier than they really are. Naming them calls them out to the light. It’s not quite as if they are cuddly teddy bears when they’re exposed, but they’re almost like teddy bears. Maybe like yucky-but-not-scary teddy bears that skip the Goodwill pile and go straight to the trash.
It’s true. Try it. I promise,”Hey, Fear That I Will Say Something Stupid at the Meeting, get lost” will work so much better than “Hey, General Anxiety, would you please go away?”
There was a man in Jesus’ time that had some serious demon issues, he wandered around in the wilderness not because anyone refused to do anything about it, but because they had tried and failed. When Jesus came, the demons told Jesus their name was “Legion, because we are many.”
It’s an intimidation tactic that doesn’t work on Jesus . It’s like he said, “You’re Many? Well, guess what? I’m MORE!” And then there were some pigs who died and some herders that got mad and also a man in his right mind that had experienced MORE and was sent to go tell people about it.
We have to name our demons.
I was coordinating a community event last fall and I am not an event person. I am not even a child’s birthday party person, and here I was coordinating churches and pastors and people and services and schools. It was bad. At least there were no decorations though, I cannot do decorations.
So the event is getting closer and I’m getting more anxious and one day I encounter this story and decide to write it all down, to write out what I’m afraid of so that I can perhaps think clearly because there’s probably something I forgot to take care of that will fix everything.
So I write:
I’m afraid no one will come. I’m afraid that we won’t have enough volunteers. I’m afraid that I’ll look like a failure. I’m afraid that if it fails, God’s people will get a bad reputation. I’m afraid that this will fail and that all the churches who came together for this will hate each other cause it went so badly. And if they do, it’ll probably cause a war between churches and everyone will hate each other and leave their church and also, 25 people will become homeless and it will all be because of me.
The ridiculous only becomes so when you take time to look at it. When you look at the worst case scenario — and some of our imaginations are better at creating these than others — you suddenly realize that either a) it’s really not so much worse than things are now or b) you’re crazy.
Those fears, those demons, were now in much more manageable chunks. Because people will come. And if hardly anyone comes, we need less volunteers, so we’re fine there. And me looking like a failure, that’s not anything new and I’ve recovered. And God did not ask me to lead his Image Perception Campaign, so not my problem. And if I’m so influential and powerful that I start World War 3 right here, then I am much cooler than I originally thought.
I mean, after simple logic took care of things, there was practically nothing left over to even give to Jesus. He was left with the scraps of my demons, the unknowable fragments that didn’t belong in my soul. And through God’s Trash Trade-In Program, I cashed in my fears for some hope and confidence that He had this event covered.
Those demons were not the last that I’ve faced. I face new ones every single morning. Sometimes I let them have the run of the place. They run around, screaming and jumping on the couch while eating Rice Krispies straight out of the box! and they do not clean up after themselves. But they only get to do what I let them do. And eventually I remember my manners and introduce myself:
“Hello, I’m Daughter of the King. What’s your name?”