Monday, 9 May 2016

The Glory of Heaven

When I was in a communist prison in 1972 for smuggling Bibles into the Communist Bloc (2 tonnes every time I came), I was pastor, evangelist - but I had to learn all over again HOW to pray. For the first six months, it seemed as if there was NO answer.  In my utter desperation the Spirit reminded me of the Lord's Prayer. So I began to say, "Our Father", but I argued, "That's plural, I'm alone in here. I'm not in church. I have to say, 'my' Father!" Suddenly I knew, He's MINE! He's my FATHER! I'm HIS child! I'm locked in this stinking prison, but He's not only MINE, He's my FATHER! Then I came to the next part, 'Who is in Heaven...' - But I argued, "You're in Heavenly glory, with angel choirs, worship, power... I'm not in Heaven, I'm in a filthy cell, in a hell on earth! Oh God, You're up there in Heaven, don't You understand?!! I'm in a living hell!!!"

Then I remembered, God so loved me, He sent His Son, not only to live on earth, but to go into a prison like me. God allowed His own Son to be incarcerated, beaten, tortured - so much, He should have died under the beating, there and then in that prison cell, even before He reached the cross! God allowed it. Who am I if I am called to suffer?

And then I came to the next part, 'Hallowed be Thy Name'. What does that mean? I have never understood until my time in prison for Bible smuggling. But it was as if the Lord said to me, "This is where you have to worship." But HOW could I in the circumstances I was in? I tried to 'praise' God through clenched teeth. Can you imagine?!! I was in rebellion, there was no reality. HOW could I praise God in the depths of hell? Suddenly, as I began to say those words, 'Praise the Lord', it was if the roof of the prison opened. I could hear the angel choirs, I heard the music of Heaven, I sensed the glory of Heaven - something happened in that cell. The glory of God came down! It was as if I was transported into Heaven and the glory of God came on me. I leaped up off that stool and began to run around that cell, singing, shouting, "Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, HOW great Thou art!" The glory of God filled my soul. Never in a church or prayer meeting have I ever experienced the glory of God, the very presence and power of God - as I did in that hell on earth.

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