In grim and gloomy cells, prisoners were forlornly locked. Emptied of hope, they sprawled on the filthy floor of their prison or warred amongst themselves, madly scrambling for the few crusts that their dungeon keeper tossed their way. Little had they known of light or life and many even believed that the whole of the world was contained within the gray walls of their dismal existence.
At times, though, there were some who escaped, helped by One from outside. These would return to the others with messages of hope, a light in their eyes, and a fragrance that clung to them, the sweet vestige of fellowship with the One Who had liberated them.
But some had become so accustomed to the fumes and stench of their imprisonment, the new fragrance of freedom and hope caused them to gag and so they clung to their shackles of pride and selfishness. Mistrusting these emissaries of hope, they turned their backs on those who had come. At times, they would even rise up and attack them, calling them “liars and frauds who sell false hope for personal gain.”
Still, those Keepers of Hope, went from prisoner to prisoner, holding forth the message of light and life for those who would receive it. With them went One, hardly to be seen in the mists that swirled about the dungeon. With a key that only He kept, He unlocked any who would receive His gift of hope. This Giver of Hope would kneel down beside each wounded and weary prisoner, and offer them the balm of forgiveness and the elixir of grace, lifting them from the nasty pool of their fallen nature, bringing them out into the clean and clear airs of glorious fellowship with Himself.
And the story continues. We are ourselves caught up into that same saga. The story of Christmas is the account of how the Great Giver of Hope descended into our fallen world, and brought with Himself power to overthrow shackles of sin and selfishness in the lives of all who will place their faith in Him. “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
The world presses in upon us and we come ever so close to toppling off the brink of discouragement into the abyss of despair. Though we become convinced that there is no hope and that all the evils of the world and all the pains we’ve endured will never be cleansed or healed, hope cannot be conquered for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
People who have lost all hope are people who have already died. Yet God specializes in bringing people “back from the dead”. And though we may be shackled by the deadly weight of chains of sin and selfishness, He holds the key to our freedom and desires to set us free into fellowship with Himself.
How about you? As He reaches down with nail-scarred hands full of forgiveness and restoration, will you receive the healing that only He can provide? Will you seize them and allow Him to place upon your fingers “rings of joy and peace” and upon your shoulders the “mantle of dignity and worth?”
Now is the time to be set free and made new. This Christmas season, celebrate the coming of the King into the world by receiving His gift of love.
“The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:9-14).