“They cried out to him.” (Matthew 8:29)

When Jesus entered the region Gadara, two men inexplicably ran toward him, crying out to him. It may have looked similar to the way the disciples had just rushed to Jesus and begged him to save them from a violent storm at sea (Matthew 8:25). But something was very different.

These two men were possessed by demons who saw Jesus as a threat to the hold they had over their victims. By contrast, the disciples saw him as the one who could keep them safe and protected. The demons strug­gled to keep their dominion, but the disciples submitted to Jesus. Ulti­mately, the disciples were saved, but the demons lost everything.

Haven’t we all done what the disciples and these two men did? Haven’t we all run to Jesus, implor­ing him for help? Perhaps it was a job interview, a family illness, or a rocky relationship that prompted us. And he reached out and helped us. But while a crisis may bring us to Jesus, that alone won’t keep us by his side. We will still have to answer the everyday questions of how we will live and whom we will trust. The issues may not be as dramatic as the one that sent us running to the Lord, but they are every bit as important. They are all worth running to the Lord for his help.

In fact, it is in these every­day challenges that demons like to hide. They work slowly and subtly, gradually chipping away at our com­mitment to the Lord. They whisper thoughts of resentment, pride, and condemnation, hoping to turn us in on ourselves. This may be what happened with these two demo­niacs. They didn’t go to sleep holy one night and wake up possessed the next morning. It happened over time, as they wandered farther and farther away from the command­ments of the Lord.

Whether we yield to good or to evil is a matter of degrees, like the slow drip of a faucet that eventu­ally fills a cup. None of our choices is trivial. Every one matters. So get in the habit of running to Jesus even with your little hopes and fears of the day. Don’t wait for the big crises. Keep your divine friend close by, and the Tempter can do you no harm.

“Father, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Amos 5:14-15, 21-24, Psalm 50:7-13, 16-17