Have you ever found yourself jealous of someone else who is locked up? I know, crazy right?! Today was one of those days for me. I found myself in a constant state of reflection upon the imprisonment of Saeed Abedini. If you haven’t been following this story, read about it here. To break it down in a simple way, Pastor Saeed was arrested and imprisoned because he is a Christian. The country of Iran saw fit that he was a threat to their country because of his faith in Jesus. The man was going to open an orphanage. It’s not as if he was standing on the steps of the capital with guns-a-blazin’ trying to start a revolution. We that live in the “land of the free” can not even come close to wrapping our minds around such a thing. But here’s where the Lord has been speaking to my heart lately.
All day today, Facebook and Twitter have been blowing up with #FreeSaeed and #SaveSaeed. It has been a one day social media effort to bring national and international attention to Saeed’s imprisonment. I found myself getting caught up in the hype and tweeting out multiple verses and retweeting what I could.
However, this evening, the Lord laid something pretty heavy upon my heart. All this effort to bring attention to Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment is a great thing. To see the hundreds of people (I’m sure it’s more than that) hash tagging all day long can be encouraging. But to who? Are we wanting Saeed’s release because we feel as if an injustice has been done? Do we want him home to return to a life of peace and freedom in America? Why are we calling for his release? What is the purpose of our prayers?
Should I be so bold as to wish that more of us would be able to experience his suffering? I read the following last night that almost brought me to tears.
“Liberty does not mean doing as you like, it means liking as you ought, and doing that. He only is free who submits to God in Christ, and thereby overcomes himself and the world and all antagonism, and is able to do that which it is his life to do…they are free men who say, ‘Lord, put Thy shackles on my arms, and impose Thy will upon my will, and fill my heart with Thy love; and then will and hands will move freely and delightedly.’ ‘If the Son makes you free, ye shall be free indeed.'” ~ Alexander Maclaren
God’s word speaks very clear on this issue. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV) Why are we surprised when Christians are persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, and killed? Why? Because we live in America. We have allowed ourselves to become blind and deaf to the suffering of the persecuted church around the world. When we hear of these stories, we feel upset. We’re saddened. Even sometimes we get angry enough to tweet about it. Look, I’m guilty (in case you forgot, look at my tweets above). What did Paul and Silas do when they were imprisoned? They rejoiced! They sang praises to their heavenly Father. In so doing, the jailer was brought to salvation, he and his family.
I want this faith. I desire this boldness. I want so badly, upon standing in front of God Almighty, to hear Him say, “Well done.” I can’t imagine He would look down upon me and proclaim to the heavens, “Well tweeted! Enter into your rest.” Every one of us who claim to be born again Christians need this fire. We need the tenacity of Paul and Silas. We need the boldness and faith of Saeed Abedini to truly go in to all the world and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Pardon me, but I don’t pray that Saeed is released. I pray that God’s perfect will is done in and through him in that prison. May His holy fire reign down upon that prison and give strength to Saeed. May the presence of Jesus Christ stand with him, loosen those chains, and bring salvation to everyone in his presence. Lord, forgive us for our lack of faith in what You are doing in that prison.
I call upon us to move forward from here on out with this in mind:
#FreeMe and #SaveMe to do Your will, both here and there. Lord, place Your shackles of freedom upon me so that I may become a prisoner to Your righteousness. I want to be held captive to Your will. Open my eyes, ears, mind, and heart to what You want me to do, and where You need me to go.
Yes, I desire that Saeed Abedini be released. Not to the lush, free lifestyle of the “American dream”, but to his family. To find his strength and renewal to get back up, dust himself off, and head back in to the darkness to bring the Light and Glory of eternal salvation. In the same manner as Paul when he was stoned, dragged out of the city. Not yet dead, he picks himself up and marches right back in to the city (Acts 14:19-23). Excuse me death, I got a job to do! That my friends is Rak Chazak!
Rak Chazak Pastor Saeed. God bless you!!