Jason E. Fort
Why I Wrote The Decapolis Man
Every author eventually writes a story that suddenly occurred to him as a great idea, and eventually holds a special place in that author's heart. For me, this book is The Decapolis Man. For anyone that hasn't read a little bit of the summary, the idea for this book hit me like a frying pan to the head one morning, as I was doing my daily scripture reading. I read about the demon-possessed man readers find in the fifth chapter of the Book of Mark in the New Testament. In the scriptures, this demon-possessed man comes out to meet Jesus and His disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, right after He calmed a storm. The Bible does not include a name for this individual, but it gives some descriptive background information of what has happened to him in the past, such as cutting himself, and being able to resist the strength of any man; to the point of breaking irons!
Suddenly it occurred to me that not only did we not learn his name, but the only clue we get as to his origin is 'the Decapolis.' After Jesus casts out the demons that call themselves "Legion, for we are many," the reader is told that He wouldn't let the nameless, formerly demon-possessed man follow Him as a disciple, but instead tells him to go back to his homeland and tell everyone about the mercy God had shown him. The scriptures go on to say that he did just that, and all who heard marveled at his story. I knew that I suddenly had a story to write; I gave the man a name; Lucius - and after a little research about the Decapolis, I decided to come up with a tale of where this Lucius came from, how he got to the point where he met Jesus, and a story of his newly assigned ministry.
There are other interesting aspects to the story. I have the main character Lucius, come across some slaves in his wanderings as a possessed man, and he befriends a couple of these slaves as traveling companions, and they are tasked with helping young Lucius attempt to find a cure to his demons. Now sure, the traveling companions play a significant role in the story. One man, Levi, a young Jewish slave who is only a few years older than Lucius, represents the Jewish people themselves; one might even say, a specific remnant of the Jewish people as the story comes close to its conclusion. The other companion is a retired gladiator, Darian, who was rewarded his role as a trainer in the gladiator games for his fighting prowess. Many people who might know me personally may think that because of my interests in martial arts, and my former role as a weight lifter, personal trainer, and defensive tactics trainer/ instructor, I would relate most closely to Darian. While I do have a few things in common with the big man, I don't think people realize that I have more in common with the main character, Lucius.
You see, that is why I wrote the book in the first place. Most of the first half of the book follows Lucius, battling his 'demons.' My entire young adolescent and young adult life, I actually felt like I had to battle my own demons. I had a very bad temper growing up. And it wasn't like I had a short fuse; it was that when the fuse ran out, it was like an explosion of emotion. I confess to anyone who reads this now, this has been something I've struggled with off and on my whole life. But I have always noticed, I struggled with it the most, during those times I spent the least amount of time seeking Christ. When I came across that story in the fifth chapter of Mark, I knew exactly how I could relate to the character I would write for my story. And any writer can tell you, the more one can relate to a character, the easier it is to write them into the story.
I wanted the journey Lucius took to find Jesus, to be full of up's and downs, just like my journey to not only find Jesus in my life, but also realize how much I need Him. The twist was in what Lucius had to experience to get there. Obviously, in his predicament, there were actual demons. But doesn't Lucius's situation sound similar to any one of our own lives? If we are not following God, but choosing sin instead, is that any different from following Satan himself - the ultimate demon! Anyone who has even heard of angels, demons, God, and Satan, at least knows that Satan would want whatever God has. If Christ has your faith and loyalty, there is no room for Satan, or any other demon for that matter.
While I had various encounters with my own anger issues (my demons), I also made decisions that helped me learn to counter the attacks of those demons. Could I ever find the same blessing as Lucius, and have Jesus cast out my 'demons' altogether? Perhaps... if I seek Jesus often enough, and show as much faith and devotion, especially as much as Lucius ends up showing after his encounter with Christ. The more often we seek His face, and demonstrate our faith, the more sanctified we can become.
Apply this concept to any sin or 'demons' you may struggle with. I challenge anyone who reads this blog post, to also read The Decapolis Man. See how Lucius, due to his diligence and relentless pursuit, finds exactly what he seeks. This is how all of our lives should work. This is the kind of pursuit the Apostle Paul yearns so much for all believers to take. This is the 'race' he says we all run, and we should all pursue the prize. If you read the story of Lucius, I hope you can at least understand, the ultimate prize for us all, is to hear the words, see the face, and know the love of Jesus Christ.
Ah, but then, as long as we are still here in this life, what do we do with such experience and wisdom?
We are to go about our towns, our homes, our cities - and tell everyone how God showed us mercy. And then, if our hearts are genuine, people will be amazed.
Behold, for it's been around for eons: the power of story. If nothing else, I want people to read the story of this Decapolis Man named Lucius, of his encounter with God - and be just bold enough to share with someone else, their own.