Thursday, January 26, 2012

Corrie Ten Boom

by Rebekah Jackson Clark

The last thing I wanted to share today was some things that touched me from a recent book I read. For Christmas, my parents gave me a copy of The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I'd read it as a kid, but I wanted to read it again, since I thought I'd get more out of it now that I'm older. The Hiding Place is the story of Corrie ten Boom and her family who helped hide Jews during World War II. They were eventually discovered and sent to concentration camps. They endured many hardships and some of them died. After she got out, Ms. ten Boom spent many years traveling, ministering, speaking, and writing about what God taught her doing those years.

The first thing that really struck me was how Corrie's father didn't answer a question she had. Here's what happened.

"So the line had stuck in my head. 'Sex,' I was pretty sure, meant whether you were a boy or a girl, and 'sin' made Tante Jans [one of her aunts] very angry, but what the two together meant I could not imagine. And so, seated next to Father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, 'Father, what is sexsin?'

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the racks over our heads, and set it on the floor.

'Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?' he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

'It's too heavy,' I said.

'Yes,' he said. 'And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.'

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied--wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions--for now I was content to leave them in my Father's keeping."

Not only is that a straightforward and illustrative way to explain to your children that they can't understand everything right now and that some knowledge isn't appropriate for them, but it's also a great spiritual truth. There are some things we just can't understand right now (for example: Why did that tragedy happen to us? or Why don't we have something that "everyone else" seems to have?), but when we're a little stronger spiritually, He'll reveal what we need to know.

There's another time, where Corrie is frightened after seeing a dead body for the first time. Her father gives her a wonderful piece of advice.

"But that night as he [her father] stepped through the door I burst into tears. 'I need you!' I sobbed. 'You can't die! You can't!'

Beside me on the bed Nollie [one of her sisters] sat up. 'We went to see Mrs. Hoog,' she explained. 'Corrie didn't eat her supper or anything.'

Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. 'Corrie,' he began gently, 'when you and I go to Amsterdam--when do I give you your ticket?'

I sniffed a few times, considering this.

'Why, just before we get on the train.'

'Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need--just in time.' "

That just touched me to the core. Whenever I start worrying about something, particularly something that's in my head, not on the horizon, I'm trying to get ahead of God. He will certainly give me the strength I need, but not until I need it.

A few years later, one of her aunts is dying, and the whole family is trying to comfort her. At that time, this aunt (who was always worried about death and very occupied with her "good works") realizes a wonderful spiritual truth.

" 'My dear sister-in-law,' Father began gently, 'there is a joyous journey which each of God's children sooner or later sets out on. And, Jans, some must go to their Father empty-handed, but you will run to Him with hands full!'

'All your clubs...,' Tante Anna ventured.

'Your writings...,' Mama added.

'The funds you've raised...,' said Betsie.

'Your talks...,' I began.

'But our well-meant words were useless. In front of us the proud face crumpled; Tante Jans put her hands over her eyes and began to cry. 'Empty, empty!' she choked at last through her tears. 'How can we bring anything to God? What does He care for our little tricks and trinkets?'

And then as we listened in disbelief she lowered her hands and with tears still coursing down her face whispered, 'Dear Jesus, I thank You that we must come with empty hands. I thank You that You have done all--all--on the Cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this.' "

What a beautiful prayer! Even now, it touches me again. We can bring nothing to God, for He gave everything to us. Anything that we do is only an expression of gratefulness carried out in obedience to His commands.

During the beginning of the war, Corrie and her sister Betsie were praying, when Corrie experienced a vision of their family being taken somewhere that they didn't want to go. Corrie wondered if she was imagining things or if it was a vision of the future. Here is Betsie's reply.

" 'I don't know,' she said softly. 'But if God has shown us bad times ahead, it's enough for me that He knows about them. That's why He sometimes shows us things, you know--to tell us that this too is in His hands.' "

Several months later, Corrie and Betsie were drinking tea and talking to wait out a bombing that had woken them. When they got back to their bedrooms, Corrie found a large piece of shrapnel on her pillow. Corrie was wondering what might have happened if she hadn't heard Betsie in the kitchen and gone to be with her. Betsie answered her.

"There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety--O Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it.' "

A true and very wise statement. Painful things may happen to you even when you're in God's will, but there is still no safer place to be.

The last part that touched me comes from the very end of the book. Corrie endured a lot of pain and suffering in the concentration camps. After she got out, she traveled around the world sharing how the love of God can heal hurting people. Her faith was put to the test when one of her former captors came up to her after a lecture. She did not want to shake his hand, but was able to with God's help.

"And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world's healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself."

That is something that I forget often. Even though God has given us many commands, He does not expect us to complete them on our own. He will give us the strength we need to do His will.

These are just a sampling of the encouragements and lessons that I found in this book. I encourage you to read it yourself, as I'm sure that it would touch your heart as well.

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