These are my friends, Jon and Anna Palmer, and their precious son, Eli Tariku. We met Jon and Anna at seminary and lived in the same building with them - fun times!! Their son has been home for 6 months now - this is something she wrote while she was in Ethiopia, waiting for their son's adoption to be complete.
Throughout his life Jesus performed miraculous signs and wonders - evidence that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Often people responded with awe, and some chose to follow him. But when Jesus sent demons out of two violent men in a cemetery in the region of the Gadarenes, the people responded with fear – they begged Jesus to leave.
It seems bizarre that the Gadarenes would prefer to have two violent, demon-possessed men hanging out in their cemetery rather than to have Jesus hanging around town.
What were they afraid of? That Jesus would cause them to lose more livestock? That he might drastically change something in their day to day lives? Did his compassion for the town-crazies scare them? Offend them? Confuse them? Challenge them?
I wonder what the Gadarenes missed because they asked Jesus to leave town. Surely he had more signs and wonders up his sleeve. There had to be other needs in the region he could have met, other people he could have healed, and a message of salvation to proclaim.
I know there have been times in my life when I was confronted with Jesus – who He is and what He stands for - and I was scared. My life, though far from perfect, was comfortable. Despite the fact that I had my own inner-crazies, I would have preferred that Jesus left me alone. I didn’t want to be offended, confused, and most certainly not challenged.
There have been times I turned into a Gadarene and sent Jesus away. So I can’t help but be grateful that God relentlessly pursued my husband and me as he called us to adopt our son from Ethiopia.
I can’t imagine missing it. Yes, it was a confusing call on our lives – this isn’t the “normal” way to start a family. Yes, it was challenging – mentally, spiritually, emotionally and even financially. But mostly, it turns out, it was a challenge to trust in His faithfulness – to do away with fear - and to trust. All along the way He has proven himself faithful (shocking, right?).
Now, looking back (a whole 3 weeks), I can’t imagine our life without him or his life without us. Many people will think that God’s major purpose behind this adoption was to provide a family for our son – and that’s partially true. But now I know that we needed him and we needed the process – of trusting Jesus, of yielding to his will in our lives, of learning not to respond out of fear. And I needed the visible, tangible example of adoption in our lives to remind me that I don’t want to be a Gadarene.