Your Redeemer Lives!

      Far back into the record of my wife's ancestry is the story of a woman who was kidnapped by the Narraganset Indians. Her name was Mary Rowlandson, and she was Sharilyn's great-aunt eleven generations back; I don't even know what to call that except to string eleven 'greats' together.

It happened in the particularly lean winter of 1674-75, during which the poor Narragansetts had been driven from their own country by colonial forces. The entire tribe was on the verge of starvation when they finally decided that, to survive, they would have to strike back. In February of '75, they attacked the sleepy little Christian town of Lancaster, Massachusetts, massacred every man, woman, and child that couldn't crawl away fast enough, burned all the buildings, and took Mary and her wounded infant son with them as they moved on in search of food. 

 

 

Seven years after she was ransomed, she wrote her story—A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson: It was the first Indian captivity narrative ever published (you can read it in the Norton Anthology of American Literature). The journal is now considered a classic of Colonial Literature and there were hundreds of subsequent narratives that followed hers—many of them exaggerated and over-dramatized. Mary Rowlandson's was the real thing. She spent 82 days in captivity, traveled 120 miles on foot through three states, and ate the most abominable food imaginable (the maggot soup was the worst!). Thankfully, her captors refrained from abusing her physically, but all through the time of captivity, they taunted her mercilessly. "We've told your husband you're dead. Now he's taken another wife. He's forgotten all about you." Later they changed the story: "Your husband is dead. One of our men saw him die in Lancaster. You have no one now. No one will ever come for you." Mary describes how, hearing these hopeless reports over and over again, she had to struggle against overwhelming despair—daily fighting to keep her hope and her faith. 

But one day, Mary met another English captive who told her the wonderful news: "Your husband is alive. I've seen him". What an incredible transformation those few words brought! Suddenly there was hope. One important fact gave her the strength to endure for the rest of her captivity: "If he is alive," she told herself, "then he will come. I will someday be free. 

In the end, that is exactly what happened. After almost 3 months of terrible captivity, Mary was finally ransomed by her husband—the Rev. Joseph Rowlandson. He paid the ransom and she was free! Sharilyn's great-to-the-eleventh-power aunt is a living, historical example of what it means to be  Redeemed! 

But, you know? It was easy for Joseph Rowlandson. All he had to pay was twenty pounds cash, a pint of liquor, and a pound of tobacco. 

It wasn't quite so easy for your Redeemer! When it came time to pay your Ransom and mine, things were a little tougher! The enemy was infinitely crueler; more demanding. The cost was infinitely greater. And the justice of the cause was not quite so...well, 'neat'--if you know what I mean. 

Mankind, you see, was already a rebel of sorts—a kind of 'runaway'—so if he happened to fall into the clutches of an Enemy, whose fault was that but his own? It could easily be argued that he deserved his captivity; he deserved to be 'sold into sin' (Rom. 7:14); "without hope and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). But that didn't stop the Son of God from coming and "laying down his life as a Ransom for many" (Mt. 20:28).

Listen, dear friends, because this is important. I know that some of you are hearing it night and a day—that taunting chorus of skepticism and despair. You hear it in the workplace; you hear it in the classroom, and sadly, sometimes, even from within your own families. Always it is the same hopeless refrain: "Your Redeemer's dead. He'll never come! You have no one, don't you know? All of this faith and hope business is nothing more than wishful thinking."

Almost four thousand years ago, a poor suffering believer named Job made an incredible statement (incredible considering that Christ hadn't come yet!) "I know that my Redeemer lives ..."  (Job 19:25). What strength and hope we gain from that fact. And you and I have more assurance that it's true than Job ever had! That cross on Calvary's hill was proof positive of a Redeemer's love for you! He paid your Ransom with his own life and conquered Death at the empty tomb. And now He lives to come again and bring you safely home again! 

In these uncertain, troubling times, keep that message in your hearts, dear ones. And let's all keep it in the forefront of our church's message and ministry too, as we work together 'til He returns! 

 

See you Sunday!                            RAS

Modeling Christ To Our Children!
Vacation Bible School 2020