Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Walk in the Spirit…” (Galatians 5:16).
I am sorry I would have liked to paint the beautiful shining faces of Christians in Communist jail. Their faces shone, and it was quite an achievement for the glory of God to shine on the face of a Christian in Communist jails. We did not wash (I had not washed in three years), but the glory of God can shine even from behind a crust of dirt. They had triumphant smiles on their faces.
I know about Christians who were released from Communist prisons. I was one who was stopped several times on the street by passers by asking, “Sir, what is it in you? You look like such a happy man. What is the source of your happiness’?” I told them that I came from many years in Communist jails.
They could not understand this because they could not think beyond the difficulties of their own lives. They had not learned to walk in the Spirit and to experience the presence of God. So many would think, “If only you knew what a life I have – a husband who batters me, a wife who nags, children who break my heart – there are so many things.” There are many material difficulties, tempests in your soul. I know these difficulties exist.
Horev was a Russian Christian who was in jail for many years. His father died in the same jail. Horev wrote in a letter, which he smuggled out from prison, that he was placed in a cell with common criminals. What they did to Christians is unimaginable.
The criminals beat Horev until lie fell unconscious. When he came to, he heard them talking among themselves, “We should grease some rope and hang him tonight.” The others refused, because that was too complicated. They had better cut his throat and then place the bloody knife in his hand so it would look like suicide. That was the talk among them. You could believe it, because they did these things.
Then, walking in the Spirit, Horev envisioned another world for himself and said, “How beautiful it will be after they have cut my throat.” He saw the angels receiving him, taking him in their arms to bring him to the bosom of Abraham. He saw himself encountering the martyrs of old. He enjoyed these things. He slept the whole night very quietly.
The next day, the criminals again beat him, and in the evening they talked about killing him. Horev said to himself, “But my father has died in this place. What an honor for me, and what a joy for my father, that I was not afraid and that I walked in his footsteps and will see Jesus.” In thinking about this world that he envisioned for himself, he slept again quietly. It continued on like this until the eighteenth day, when he was moved from that jail. What he wrote is so beautiful: “I had to leave the cell. The criminal who had intended to cut my throat came to me, shook my hand, and said, “Truly, there is something supernatural in you.”
What in the world does a criminal know about the supernatural? Horev was a page of the Bible, “an epistle of Christ …written not with ink, but by the Spirit of the Living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3). The criminal knew from Horev, not from the Bible, that Horev belongs to Another. He has a divine nature. “There must be a God,” the criminal said. “Every time we spoke about you, you were asleep and we did not think that you heard us. You kept your eyes closed. Why did you not jump at us? How could you sleep quietly and peacefully? Only one who really believes in eternal life can do this.”
The criminal continued, “When you were taken for walk in the prison yard, you could have reported to the guard about us and requested to be placed in another cell. That is what is usually done, but you never did it. Why’? Why did you come back? Why did you not seek help with any man except with your God? Why did you pray on your knees every morning and every evening? You knew that we could kill you, as we have killed so many. Why did you give yourself quietly every day into our hands’? This is incomprehensible for us. Really, you have something supernatural in you.” Once again he shook Horev’s hand and that is how they parted.
Horev did not live in this world.
We all expect that Jesus will come again and rapture us to heaven. No one will be raptured, I can assure you, if Christ hasn’t raptured his heart already. No one will be in heaven if he is not in heaven already, if he does not live here in an entirely different world than the material world that surrounds us.
So whatever your circumstances – which initial be terrible for some of you – don’t live this life. Live the new life, the eternal life, the timeless life, to which we are called by Jesus.
We were in prison cells with believers sentenced to death. As often as the door was unlocked, the prisoner did not know if he would be taken to a bath, to an interrogation or to be shot. Yet there was such a peace. There was no difference for him because lie knew he had eternal life.
I belong to the family of God. I have the nature of God. Because I also have the nature of a man, I know I may live sixty or eighty years. Since I have the nature of God, who in the world can kill me? Men can change only my outward form, but I will live in other circumstances.
We saw this peace – the peace of those who understood that godly nature – and I plead with you for this. You have your difficulties. You have your crosses. Trust in the God who makes faces to shine and know that in Him you have eternal life.
Pastor Richard Wurmbrand