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Many years ago, a little boy named Conrad lived in a village in far-off Norway. His father had died, and so he and his mother lived alone. They were very kind to a stork that had built its nest near their house every summer for many years. They fed it and petted it so that it got to know them. When Conrad whistled for it, the stork would come to eat from his hand. Each spring they eagerly watched for the stork to return to its nest, and it seemed equally glad to see them.
When Conrad grew up, he went to sea, hoping to earn enough money to be able to take care of his mother in her old age. Near the coast of Africa, pirates attacked the ship he was on. He and the other sailors were put in chains and sold as slaves.
As the months passed and Conrad’s mother did not hear from her son, she gave up all hope of seeing him alive again. She assumed he had drowned, and she mourned for him. Things around her held little interest for the poor, lonely mother. But for Conrad’s sake, she welcomed the stork the next spring and fed it till it flew away to the sunny south that fall.
One day as Conrad, now a slave, worked hard under cruel conditions, a stork came flying close to him and circled around him. This brought to his mind the memory of home and his mother and their yearly visitor. He whistled to the stork just as he used to call his pet stork at home.
To his great surprise, the stork came at once to him as if to be fed. He lifted up his heart to God and with tears gave thanks for the arrival of his pet. Day after day he fed the bird with what little he could spare from his own meager food rations.
When it came time for the stork to fly north again, Conrad was sad. Would it fly once again to his mother’s home? Was the nest still there? Was his mother there to welcome and feed the bird? Then it occurred to him that the stork might help him gain his freedom. He managed to write a short message on a scrap of paper, telling where he was and that he was being held as a slave. He tied the paper firmly around the bird’s leg.
Spring came again to Norway and with it came the stork. His mother’s eyes lit up when she saw the stork, and she welcomed it once again as an old friend. While feeding it, she noticed the piece of paper tied to its leg. Can you imagine her joy when she found that it was a note from her son?
The news spread quickly that Conrad was alive. The king of Norway sent a ship, one that the pirates wouldn’t dare attack, to rescue Conrad from his slavery. Ships traveled slowly in those days, but Conrad was finally freed from his slavery and was safely returned to his mother and home.
We can cry to the Lord Jesus for His help to free us from the slavery of sin and the evil of our hearts. Prayer is the white-winged bird that can carry our message right up to the Father’s house in heaven. And an answer comes to us: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, [you] shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
Long, long ago God knew our need to be freed from the slavery of sin. He sent His beloved Son, Christ Jesus, down here to rescue us by giving up His own life for all who want to be set free. “Christ Jesus … gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5‑6).