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Podcast Transcript: What Will You Decide?

What Will You Decide?

Anabaptist Dirk Willems plots his escape from prison and sure death. He succeeds, but then God presents him with a life-changing decision.

Welcome to Need Hope.


I’m Chris Gray. And I’m so glad you’re here.


Where do you find hope?


In a moment, we will hear about a man persecuted for his faith. God allowed him to escape prison then presented him with a life-changing decision. What will he decide? Stay tuned.


Intro Music


First, let’s listen to God’s Word. Matthew 16:24-25. I pray God speaks to our hearts.


Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”


Jesus makes clear that His disciples choose to follow Him. Jesus directs us to focus on loving God and loving others. Yet this requires us to die each day. What does that mean, to die each day? It means to kill or deny a life focused on pleasing ourselves. Let’s see what this looks like in real life.


In 1569, Dirk Willems, a Dutchman, found himself sitting in a jail cell in the Netherlands because he affirmed the believer’s baptism. Dirk was rebaptizing people who were already infant baptized so they could publicly testify to their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Dirk’s biblical practice of believer’s baptism was said to be blasphemy. After a trial, he was convicted and sentenced to death.


While waiting, the guards regularly beat and tortured Dirk. They also cut his rations, starving him. And it was winter, so he was freezing in his cell.


Dirk’s situation appeared hopeless. Yet God was working out a greater plan of good in the midst of this evil treatment. But how?


First, consider Dirk’s torture. After routinely beating him, the guards wrapped his bloody wounds with rags so he’d be alive for the public burning at the stake. As a result, bloody rags piled up in the corner of Dirk’s cell. These rags would come in handy.


Next, there was Dirk’s starvation. He lost so much weight that after making a rope out of the bloody rags, he was able to slip through the bars of his window and lower himself to the prison yard below. He was undetected since it was still dark outside.


As for the cold winter that almost froze Dirk to death, it kept the prison guards in their warm rooms and not out patrolling the wall. Dirk was able to quietly make his way to the fortress wall, which was surrounded by a deep and wide ditch filled with water, called a moat.


After lowering himself down the final wall, Dirk wondered how he would survive crossing the cold watered moat in secrecy. Staring straight ahead, he raised his right leg and leaned forward to step into the moat. Yet a miracle happened. His foot did not sink in the water. Instead, it stayed on the surface. The same freezing winter that had almost taken his life had frozen the moat. And his light body had no problem on the thin ice.


When he reached the other side, he scrambled up the bank and saw freedom awaiting him. Then everything changed.


A guard sprang from a small door in the fortress wall. “Stop!” he commanded.


But Dirk had too big of a lead. He was home free. Dirk heard a cracking sound and a splash behind him.


“Help me,” the guard cried out. “Please!”


Dirk stopped. He saw the guard slipping below the ice. In a matter of seconds, the guard would be dead and Dirk would be free. So what would you do?


Jesus had the power to escape the cross but chose instead to rescue us, bringing glory to the Father. Jesus willingly died at the hands of evil men to save us from the judgment we deserve for our sins. If you want more information on how Jesus can save you, please go to Need-Hope.com


What would Dirk decide? Race to freedom or save the guard’s life and be recaptured?


Without hesitation, Dirk turned around and ran to the guard. Using what strength he had left, Dirk pulled the guard out of the hole and onto thicker ice. The guard survived.


Back in prison, Dirk was placed in a more secure cell. When it was time to die, Dirk shouted out, “Oh my Lord,” seventy times as the flames consumed him. It was a gruesome death, yet Dirk saved a man, giving the guard a chance to know Christ and be saved for all eternity.


What choice would you and I have made?


Dirk chose to deny his desire to escape and instead saved his enemy’s life from drowning and freezing to death. Who does that? Only a person controlled by Christ’s love, one who desires to reach the lost, including that guard. And one who is committed to living for God’s glory.


It’s been over 450 years and yet today, the Lord encourages us by Dirk’s testimony to be an instrument of God’s love before all men no matter what.


Jesus’s followers are committed to living a life focused on loving God and others by denying their focus on pleasing themselves.


Will you commit to follow Jesus or choose to live a life focused on trying to please yourself?

What will you decide?

Think about it. Pray about it.


Until next time, Look to Jesus.


And look to God’s Word for guaranteed hope.


Outro Music


Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. www.Lockman.org