Searching for Freedom. Amidst Tribulation: Jubilation, Part 3

The Spree river in Berlin

"When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi." (Matt 2:16, NIV2)

King Herod didn't give up on eliminating his competition. Just as the evil one, who also never gives up trying: "To steal and kill and destroy . . ." (John 10:10b, NIV2)

Should we worry about this?

"When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.'" (Matt 2:13, NIV2)

After all, God is in charge. All we need to do is rely on our Heavenly Father, and let Him be our guide in all things: "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." (Ps 139:7-10, NIV)

And so Jesus escaped from the evil intents of King Herod and was led to Egypt. No harm came to be, and the evil one was left wanting.

In life, many would try everything to find freedom from oppression. Bernd Boettger was one of them. He, too, wanted to escape from the evil forces of East Germany, and he decided to swim to freedom. On July 7th, 1967, he set out; but he didn't get very far. He was arrested by the border guards. As he was an engineer, which was highly in demand in Eastern Germany, he received a light sentence and was put back into the East German civilization within the year.

Bernd didn't give up on his dream. His next attempt would use his engineering prowess. He constructed a 22 pound, underwater diver tug that he hoped would tow him to Sweden. Unlike military tugs, which used an electric motor, Boettger used a tiny 2-stroke gasoline engine from a powered bicycle. Because it required air, he added a rubber snorkel tube which would be above the surface. He, himself, would wear a 12-pound belt to keep himself submerged, and he would hang onto a frame that extended behind the craft. With the meager provisions he could find, he decided he was ready for his escape. He wasn't able to test his contraption, and he had no choice but to test it during his escape.

During the night of September 8, 1968 he set out. He knew that if the authorities found him, this would be the end of his life. Nonetheless, he carefully made his way through the searchlights and patrol boats guarding the border, and in the end, he had only one problem: he ended up in Denmark instead of Sweden! Once free, he released his 12-pound belt and swam to the shore. He was free, free indeed.

Unfortunately, in 1974, his freedom was cut short. He was trying out his new prototype in the waters of Spain, and something went wrong. His life was cut short.

No one likes duress. Especially when they are attacks from the evil one. We have nothing to fear, however, when we take to heart God's promises: "'Because he loves me,' says the LORD, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.'" (Ps 91:14-15, NIV2)

Worried? You don't have to be, for you can reside in the welcoming arms of our Heavenly Father. He will take care of you!

By the way, have a peaceful and Merry Christmas!

Rob Chaffart

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