It was May 11th, 2012, and I was sitting at a conference called Catalyst listening to a Seattle pastor named Judah Smith teach when I heard those two words. I stumbled over them like I was eight years old again, stubbing my toe on the coffee table in the middle of the night as I snuck into the kitchen to get a snack. The last place I ever wanted to go was home; just hearing the words made me wince.
After internally wrestling for few minutes with all that going home would mean, I looked up to see that Judah was teaching from Mark chapter 5. I quickly opened my phone, typed in the reference, and began to read along with him. Mark 5:1-20 tells the story of a demon-possessed man who lived in a graveyard after being kicked out of his village. This guy was uncontrollable. Even when the people in the village could hold him down long enough to put chains on his wrists and ankles, he would just break out of them. Jesus and his disciples had just crossed the Sea of Galilee by boat and immediately encountered this guy when they came ashore.
Jesus casts out the demons and heals the man. Shepherds from the village, who were out in the fields tending their herds, saw what Jesus did and went to the village to tell everyone what had happened. Many people from the village came to see if what the shepherds said was true, and they found the formerly uncontrollable man sitting peacefully with Jesus. The people were afraid and began to beg Jesus to leave their region because they didn’t understand what had occurred.
As Jesus gets into the boat to leave, the man who had been healed implores Jesus to take him with them on their journey. Jesus turns to the man and says, “Go home to your people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).
I was set on getting in the boat with Jesus and going off on an adventure. Going home simply wasn’t an option. For some reason, going home felt like an admission that I couldn’t make it somewhere else; it would mean missing out on exploring new places and meeting new people. I was convinced that I would never really experience life if I moved back to Austin.
May 11th, 2012, began a three-year journey of preparing to go home. I have a deep affection for the people and city of Austin, and my desire is to tell everyone I encounter about the grace and mercy that God has shown me.
God isn’t calling everyone to their hometown, he regularly sends people all over the world, but he has made it clear that we are supposed to “go home to our people and tell them how much the Lord has done for us.” And it is turning out to be an amazing adventure.