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Happy Easter, Blog friends and family!
As I reflect on Easter, and Jesus’ empty tomb, my mind keeps turning to a resurrection story of sorts–the recent release of missionary Free Methodist missionary to Nigeria, Phyllis Sortor.
After returning to the United States, she wrote a letter to the people on her newsletter list who had been praying for her release. In it, she says, “Men meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. . . . I’m well and happy. . . . I’m unharmed, both physically and mentally. ”
On Palm Sunday, she shared much more as she sat down with Pastor Blake Wood at Seattle’s First Fee Methodist Church for an interview during the service (listen to the whole interview here: http://new.livestream.com/FFMC/events/3926553) .
During the interview, she said that the first words from one of her kidnappers were “Today is the day you die.”
Terrified, she was forced to run through the woods for hours, until they finally reached a hideaway where she threw up, laid down in her vomit, and immediately fell asleep, exhausted.
Eventually, she was moved to another hideaway, where her kidnappers put her in a place she called a “rabbit hole” in the ground. Keeping watch from above in a tree, they were well armed with guns, machetes, and knives. Occasionally, some of the kidnappers would storm into her hole and threaten to shoot her on the spot, while, miraculously, the man who had first told her she would die, would throw her behind him and “nose to nose” tell the other kidnappers that they would have to shoot him first–and he was their boss.
In that rabbit hole, she waited and prayed and recounted hymns and psalms and Bible promises for seven days.
Phyllis wrote that spiritually, “I am stronger than before, having spent twelve days in the presence of Jesus. The time we spent together was very precious.”
This, friends, is the mystery and miracle of the resurrection! The empty tomb means Jesus is still alive, still Immanuel–God with us. The very same one who reached out to the criminal hanging next to him on a cross with words of assurance is the very savior who reaches across the centuries to save us from our sins–not simply as a moral teacher, not just as a good example–but to be the one with us in the rabbit holes of our lives.
Not many of us will be held captive by kidnappers in a foreign country, but many of us do experience rabbit holes of sorts, right? A week in isolation I spent undergoing radioactive iodine treatment for thyroid cancer was one of mine, and another one was a lonely period as a single woman in Tokyo. Both were precious times with Jesus. Without those “rabbit holes” with Jesus, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog, and there would be no novel coming out in June.
Jesus, in the rabbit hole with us. This is what makes Jesus different. This is what makes him precious.
Thank you, Jesus!
If you haven’t done so, why don’t you invite Jesus into your rabbit hole today? You will learn, with Phyllis, that Jesus will “never, ever let you down.”