In June of 2009, the North Korean regime sentenced the journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, to 12 years of hard labor for illegally entering the country. Laura Ling, told her sister by phone that she and another journalist violated North Korean law.
The journalists raised suspicions about their guide and wondered if they had been "lured into a trap." "We didn't spend more than a minute on North Korean soil before turning back, but it is a minute we deeply regret," they said."We broke the law, we are sorry, and we need help." They were held in isolation from each other, gripped by fear that they would be shipped to one of the infamous hard-labor gulags in Kim Jong Il's Communist state. Laura Ling told her family she was treated humanely.
Both were pardoned following talks between (Bill) Clinton and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. "When we walked in through the doors, we saw, standing before us, President Bill Clinton," she said, pausing with emotion as she placed her hand on her chest. "We were shocked, but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end and now we stand here, home and free."
(Upon their return to US soil they) rushed to embrace loved ones. Ling, her voice sometimes shaking with sobs, only talked about the pair's gratitude to all those who worked for their release. "We could feel your love all the way in North Korea," she said. "It is what kept us going in the darkest of hours, and it is what sustained our faith that we would come home."
It's a very powerful story, and she (Laura) does want to share it," Lisa Ling told CNN (Excerpts of CNN articles, 6/09-8/09)
A powerful and personal story, but not exclusive. Beyond imprisonment, slavery, or martyrdom, in one stage or another, this is a story of every human life. This is the story of my life. Illustrate the immortal.
We may walk willingly over enemy lines. We may be lured by the enemy posing as our friend. Without exception, we all decide and walk right into regret. The choice to sin is human nature; the to choice to stay is horrific nurture. Circumstances are not to be blamed; we all choose the chains and face the cross.
The women faced 12 years of hard labor for one moment of decision. Not to minimize any amount of time of human horror, but this is nothing in comparison to Eternity. Sin knows no mercy and is never a light sentence. Though we may not always see or feel the effects, there is punishment inflicted day after day, sometimes year after year, on a heart that is remains chained up to human isolation from God. The greatest horror is to constantly be caught in my own choice with no control to change.
There is absolutely no way to save yourself: no matter who you are, who you know, what you know, what you have done, what you have said, what you have not done, what you have not said. You cannot reverse sin and you cannot free yourself from sin. Hopeless and helpless, you cry out. The key is who you chose to cry to. Clearly, your judge has no mercy on your plea. In fact, he hates "from whence you came." He may even use you as a trophy in his cages to demonstrate his control over you life; if nothing else, to taunt your beloved "homeland." He may treat you humanely or horrifically, but your enemy has complete control over your captivity as long as you never cry out for a Savior.
"We broke the law, we are sorry, and we need help." In one sentence, these women stated the cry that has brought freedom to millions, including my own wretched life, since the beginning of breath. Isaiah said the same words when he faced the Most High God:
"Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven" Isa.6:5-7.
What if these women had said, "no, we're fine here, thanks"? Yet millions remain, right up to their punishment, imprisoned by their own choice. Millions look to "call death's bluff," as if they had any say so from their dark cells. The sit in the lie, that "you will not die." Until they actually see the gallows, they don't believe that they exist, therefore they believe that they have nothing to turn "from" or no one to turn "to." Until there is Holy Light, the mind believes that this dark cell of sin is either a "phase" or a "pleasure." Eyes remain blinded until they are forced open to face eternal death. This is not a spook story to "get you to behave." This is glimpse of our destiny based on our decision.
Luke 16:23-26 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
Upon confession, salvation comes. Though these women had to wait for their hero, the ultimate Hero is a only a breath away. He is humanity's gentlemen, extending the offer of freedom to all who will receive. There is no talk, no negotiation, no waiting. Salvation comes; and from the most surprising "savior." In this case, these women were shocked to see a man of such prestige stoop down to their rescue. But without a word, just to see him, they "knew instantly in their hearts that the nightmare of their lives was finally coming to an end." Their gratitude left them trembling, yet talking, of his heroic rescue. Oh, how familiar to know that moment of freedom, gratitude, and trembling words!
Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:33-34
How amazed I am that the King of Creation and glory chose to risk everything to rescue me! More than rescued, I am healed and free from the suffering of sin. Trials will remain and temptations call to imprison me, but I will never enter the enemy's captivity of judgement again. Just as one decision eternally damns us, one decision eternally frees us. Our cry is not what saves us (all sacrifice and glory belongs to Jesus) but it does bring us into the Reality of redemption. "I've broken the law, I am sorry, I need help." Help came, I am FOREVER FREE, and I have a powerful story to tell.
These women noted that it was the savior who saved them, but it was the "love...in their darkest hours...that sustained their faith that they would come home." Pray for the captives. Just we all once were, each are helpless and hopeless until their Savior comes. Yet, He remains the God of all comfort until that day. Whether they are thankful to you in their day of deliverance is no matter; they will join you in Eternity as forever free.
They rushed from captivity into freedom; into the arms of their deepest loves. Max Lucado writes that when we see Him face to Face, God rolls back the sleeves of His robe and personally applauds our arrival Home. Thousands all over the earth applauded the return of these who strayed and were ushered home. How much more will the heart burst at the sound of the King's applause and warmth of His eternal embrace. Oh, how much more! Saviour come!
Enjoy Him, Michelle