Being Free

Dr. Timothy Keller tells this true story of a Highland Scot named Murdo McDonald. During WWII he was captured with another Scot and put in a prisoner of war camp, Stalag 17. Both Scots acted as chaplains and were on opposite sides of the fence—one with the British group and one with an American group. Once a day they were allowed to go to a big fence in the middle of the prisoner camp and talk with each other briefly. They had to do it in the presence of the guards who knew English and French as well as German. The two Scotsman discovered, though, that these guards did not know Gaelic, the native tongue of Scotland, so they communicated with each other in Gaelic.

As it turned out, one of the Americans had a short-waved homemade radio that the Germans did not know about, so everyday Murdo would bring news about the war to the other Scot. One day he came to the gate and said that Germany had surrendered; and the war was over, but the guards did not know about it because communication had totally broken down. The other Scot went back to the British barracks to tell them the news, and soon, you could hear a tremendous cheer rise up.

For the next three days, even though they were still prisoners, they walked around the camp as though they were at a party. They did not complain about the food anymore, and they smiled at and felt sorry for the guards. They did not hate them anymore. The prisoners were filled with joy.

Four days later the Germans got the word, and the guards were gone and the doors were opened.

But Murdo says, “We were liberated by the news long before we were liberated by the guards.”

Being Human connection: For these prisoners, knowing their future made all the difference in how they lived their present. We have that same thing in Christ. Knowing our future invites us to live differently in our present—free; forgiven and full of joy.