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“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He released me from all my fears.”
What are some of your worst fears?
I imagine that Andrew Brunson and Kim Dong-chul might have,
on more than one dark and hope-obscured night,
wondered if they would ever find freedom beyond the confines
of false and harsh imprisonment in a foreign country.
Andrew Brunson is an American who was arrested in Turkey in October 2016.
He had lived in Turkey with his wife for 23 years where they pastored
the Izmir Resurrection Church. For much of the time, Brunson was held with 21 others
in a cell that was made for eight prisoners where he reportedly lost over 50 pounds.
Kim Dong-chul, a naturalized US citizen and pastor who is in his early 60’s,
was detained in North Korea in 2015 on spying charges,
and was then sentenced to 10 years hard labor.
Then unexpectedly came this life altering message:
“You have been released, you are free to go home”.
Dong-chul learned of his release earlier this year on May 9th.
Brunson learned of his release earlier this year on October 12th. –
two dates in time not soon to be forgotten.
Perhaps in this season of Advent – when we ponder about the One
who came at the least expected time in the least expected way to secure our forever freedom
from sin and death – perhaps there is no better time to bring those soul-numbing fears
and unrealized hopes and prayers to His feet.
David did so and would later exclaim
“He answered me. He released me from all my fears”.
“All” you ask? Yes all . . and while it is true that David saw God’s hand
turn defeat into triumph when he encountered wild animals and over-sized giants . .
there were plenty of other personal and national heartbreaks that saw so turnaround
in his natural lifetime, but he did not go to his grave void of a secured hope.
Instead, he had learned many years before that the Lord was indeed his faithful Shepherd
and Only He could free David from the worst of all prisons –
the prison where fear is the constant – yes, the horrendous prison of want.
Max Lucado puts it this way, “If your happiness comes from something
you deposit, drive, drink, or digest, then face it – you are in prison, the prison of want.
That’s the bad news. The good news?.
The Lord can be your Shepherd and lead you through a life free of want.
It’s as if David himself was saying in Psalm 23,
‘What I have in God is greater than what I don’t have in life’.”
Have you said “yes” to the One who can open prison doors . .
especially the prison doors of the heart?
Receive Him and hear those precious words,
“You have been released, you are free to go home”
Come thou long expected Jesus and help me today to surrender
my worry, my empty places, my setbacks, my detours and even my suffering
to Your perfect love and find myself “released” from all fears
and to realize the promise of 1 Peter 1:8-9,
“and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now,
but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls”. Amen
How is God encouraging you today?