But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Many thanks to Pastor Darren Siegle of Grace Lutheran Church in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada, for suggesting the article for today's Daily Devotion.
Shin Dong-hyuk was born in a North Korean prison. He grew up there, too.
Let me tell you what growing up in this prison camp meant.
It meant Dong-hyuk believed his camp was the entire world. It meant he believed "people who carry guns were born to carry guns, and prisoners were born as prisoners." It meant, "You wear what you're given. You eat what you're given, and you only do what you're told to do."
Dong-hyuk is the only man who has managed to escape this earthly hell of 15,000 prisoners. Still, he is not without scars. His mother and sister were executed for trying to escape. He watched when other prisoners were executed for hoarding a few kernels of corn. He can show you a finger whose tip was chopped off because he accidentally broke a piece of factory machinery.
And how did Dong-hyuk's life change? His life changed when a man by the name of Park was sent to the prison. Park told him that there was another world out there ... a different world ... a better world.
One day in January of 2005, Dong-hyuk and Park were gathering firewood in a remote area of the camp. They decided to make a run to freedom. Dong-hyuk fell, but Park made the fence. He made the fence and was electrocuted by the wires.
Later on that day, Dong-hyuk made good on his escape by crawling over the body of his dead friend.
When I read that story, I was moved. Primarily, I was moved because Dong-hyuk's story is that of every Christian.
You see, we also were born into the slavery of sin. It was all we knew. Even worse, there was no way for us to escape our destiny.
Then Jesus entered our world. He told us about forgiveness and hope and how God wanted to bless and save us rather than hurt and condemn us. Even though we had been told how God wanted things to be, forgiveness and heaven remained beyond our reach.
It was only when Jesus went to the cross, only when He breathed His last, only when He declared, "It is finished!" that a new life, a redeemed, justified life became a reality. We were brought to freedom when the Holy Spirit had us climb over the dead body of our Redeemer.
Yes, Dong-hyuk's story is ours.
But there is a difference. While Dong-hyuk's friend, Park, remained dead, our Savior did not. Having done all that was necessary to procure our salvation, three days after He was buried, Jesus rose from the dead. Now a living Lord has given freedom to His living brothers and sisters.
And this story, too, has moved me.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I thank You for living, dying and rising, so I might be free. In Jesus' Name I give thanks. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries