Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’



January 22, 2013

“Remember Lot’s wife.  Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Luke 17:32-33

Shin Dong-hyuk grew up in a North Korean prison camp.  He was not serving a term in that camp due to crimes that he had committed.  He was born there.  He was serving a term called “three generations of punishment”.  This is a punishment for political prisoners in which parent, children, and grandchildren, serve life prison terms in these forced labor camps.

The only existence that Shin knew was that of the bleakness of Camp 14.

Shin told how he did not know there was a world outside the prison wires.  He did not know that the world was flat, round or square.  He did not know there was a United States of America or other countries.  All he knew was his existence of perpetual work in forced-labor factories, fields, or mines.  The only life he had ever known was one of constant hunger and exposure. A life where fellow prisoners were executed for “offences” such as hoarding a few kernels of corn and where inmates were starved to make them “repent”. It was a place where he was tortured at the age of 13 for his mother and brother being accused of trying to escape.

That was his life.  He said: “I just thought that those people who carry guns were born to carry guns and prisoners like me were born as prisoners.”

However, Shin’s existence changed in January 2005.  He and another inmate were gathering wood in a remote part of the camp that was near the electrified fence.  Shin’s partner made it to the fence first but was electrocuted as he pulled it down to escape.  Shin escaped that camp by crawling over the back of his dead partner.

When Shin got to the other side of the fence, he did not linger.  There were no nostalgic memories for him to reminisce over at the edge of that camp perimeter.  He ran.  He fled with all of his heart to escape the certain death that awaited him if he were caught.

Consider if Shin’s existence had not be so bleak.  What if Camp 14 had not been the residence of misery but a city of luxury?  What if the prison guards carried candy rather than guns?  What if those things that the prison had given to Shin were good, the food was cuisine, what he did was comfortable?  What if there was no torture?  What if all that he had ever known was a prison that fed his desires?  Would he have fled such a place?  Would he have crawled over a dead body to get away from such a place?

I don’t think that he would have been pressed to flee a city of luxury, particularly if that is all he had ever known.

The desire to linger at the edge of such a city would tempt us all.  There would be only one onus to leave, self-preservation.  The only reason any of us would flee a city of luxury would be if that place was certain death.  That would make you flee.  The imminence of that destruction would cause us to run and not look back.  Lot and his family were told to flee Sodom because its destruction was imminent.  Sodom was a city of craven luxuries.  That city was full of things that they loved and it was soon going to be destroyed.

Jonathan Edwards in his sermon, “The Folly of Looking Back in Fleeing Out of Sodom”, points out that “the chief reason also why Lot was directed to make such haste, and not to look behind; because his fleeing out of Sodom was designed on purpose to be a type of fleeing from that state of sin and misery which we naturally are.”

This world that we reside in is destined for a more terrible destruction than Sodom.  That is the initial reason for anyone to turn their back on this world we live in and flee from it to Christ.  They don’t know anything better than this world.  The tendency to linger at the perimeter is enticing.  However, lingering at the perimeter of this world is very risky.  No one knows the number of their days.  No one knows the time of the Lord’s return.  Those who linger and long for this world are in danger of being suddenly overtaken and seized with destruction.

Therefore, we should all make haste to get far away from the attachments of that former life.  We should flee those entanglements like our lives depend upon it because it does.

The reality is that the further away from the perimeter of this world’s entanglement that you get the more you will realize that there is a much better world in Christ Jesus.  You will realize that you have given up nothing.  The further away you get the more you will see this world for what it really is, a prison.  Those escaping this world are giving up bondage of a prison of sin for the un-estimable treasure of Christ.  It is like Shin escaping his prison.  He has now experienced a world that far surpasses Camp 14.

However, no one will ever be able to see or appreciate the treasures of Christ until they flee.  Those who linger on the perimeter will continue to be blinded by that prison of luxury.  They will not appreciate the sacrifice that Christ has given – the laying of his own life across the prison wires of this world to allow us to crawl across his back to eternal life.

Jonathan Edwards:

“Therefore it is foolish for any who are fleeing out of Sodom to hanker any more after them; for when they are burnt up, what good can they do? And is it worth the while for us to return back for the sake of a moment’s enjoyment of them, before they are burnt, and so expose ourselves to be burnt up with them?”

I have heard some speak of their former lives of sins with what appear to be fond memories.  I have seen people struggle with their affections for a life prior to their profession.  I can understand their affinity for this world but it is like Lot’s wife lingering outside of Sodom.

We need to understand the dangers of lingering over those reminiscing thoughts.  What are you trying to preserve?  We will never know the greater treasures that await us in Christ until we flee.  It is when we lose our lives that we will actually keep it.  It is when we flee for fear of our own destruction that a miraculous new life in Christ begins.  It is in that new life that we will see the reality of this world as a prison camp full of misery and death that it really is.

That is what we are giving up; we are giving up only that which will be destroyed and lost.  It you try to preserve that, then you will surely lose it.

Therefore, remember Lot’s wife and flee; linger no more.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you saving me from certain destruction.  Thank you for sending your Son to condemn sin in the flesh.  Thank you for the cross and freeing me from bondage.  Lord, forgive me for lingering at the edge of this world.  Forgive me for preserving little morsels of this world.  Father, please continue to give me the urgency of flight from this world.  Give me a heart that desires you more than anything else that the world may entice me with.  Open my eyes to see this world for what it really is.  Give me a heart that appreciates what you have done.  Amen

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