Against their will they were forced into boats that brought them to the land of plenty. Not to enjoy the richness of those lands. Rather they were brought there as slaves to satisfy the comfort of its inhabitants. They were treated like beasts, beaten, mocked, living in shaggy shacks that no sane person would ever want to live in, often separated from loved ones, even their very own spouses! Forced labor was truly a nightmare that they could never wake up from.
It’s no wonder that amidst such hellish calamities, many of them tried to escape. We would do the same! Former slaves would try to help them in their endeavors and so did many believers in the Most High. These sympathizers came to be known as the Underground Railroad, a network that helped about 50,000 slaves find freedom from 1830 to 1860. Many found this freedom in Canada. Others tried to assimilate themselves in big cities or other places where it would be hard to detect them.
Still their human masters were relentless in finding these fugitives, and if caught they would suffer terribly. One of these punishments was to place a four-pronged slave collar that was fastened around a fugitive’s neck. Those prongs would hinder that slave from rest in a lying position and these prongs would also easily become entangled in the foliage of any forest, if the slave tried to escape again.
How wonderful that this nightmare ended in the 1860s.
Or did it?
Sadly, human trafficking is still quite alive. An estimated 2.5 million people are enduring forced labor today. They too were either kidnapped or enticed to lead a better life, only to be forced into prostitution in the land of promise or forced to work for free, with no hope in sight. Their escape into a better land ends in a nightmare. Promises, especially enticing ones, are after all just promises that more often than not are never fulfilled.
Still, even today, organizations such as the International Justice Mission Canada, are working towards freeing these slaves. Unfortunately the funds and volunteers are lacking and more could be done to help these oppressed individuals.
Enticing promises are always intriguing. Any of us would be attracted to them. How often haven’t we found ourselves applying for something because of a chance to win something or the possible of cheaper rates, only to find out that it was all a scam. And even if it wasn’t a scam, how often did we ever receive what was promised?
It all started in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were presented with an incredible deal from the evil one himself: “They could become like God”! Too late did they realize the scam: They now were hiding away from God. Their intimate relationship with Him had been completely broken by their own doing. Eternal bliss had come to a stop. Death and misery awaited them.
“And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’” (Gen 3:22, NIV2)
Although we all long for eternity, evidence shows that eternity is not within us. Adam and Eve were biologically alive, but eternity depended on a source only available through God Himself, the One most people ignore.
It’s time we wake up from our stupor and escape from this kind of bondage that we have put ourselves in. We don’t need to be separated from God. We don’t need to live miserably. We too can escape, to the One whose promises always come true. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2Tim 2:13, NIV2)
We don’t have to live in bondage any longer! Our God is at our side. He paid the ultimate price so that we could experience complete freedom. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1, NIV)
We will explore that promised freedom from God in the next few weeks, true living that will lead us to eternity.
Will you escape with me in the arms of the One who loves us so deeply?
(To access the entire “Alive” devotional series, please click here.)