Yesterday evening, I was reading Corrie ten Boom’s memoir The Hiding Place. For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, she was a Dutch woman who hid Jews during the Holocaust, and consequently was later interned in a concentration camp along with her sister. As I was reading, I was struck by how passionate they were about the Gospel. It made me realize that I’ve never been that passionate about my faith. She and her sister even gave thanks for the crowded conditions in the camp because it made it easier to share their beliefs!
What also struck me was not only how in love they were with God, but also how God was able to use them. Even in the concentration camp, they strove to love others both through their words and their deeds. Corrie went so far as to carry bedpans around to the other hospital patients when she herself was sick, because there was no one else to do it! After Corrie was released (her sister Betsie died in the camp), she traveled the world, sharing her story and the Gospel with many, many people. She could have been bitter after all she’d been through, but she chose to spread God’s love and forgiveness with others, even one of her former guards at the concentration camp!
It made me realize just how radical God’s love and forgiveness are, if it enabled Corrie to forgive one of the concentration camp guards who had mistreated her sister. Rationally, it would have made sense for her to hold a grudge for the rest of her life. However, her forgiveness enabled both her and the guard to move forward with their lives in emotional freedom. It made me realize that sin really is bondage, and what a great gift Jesus’ death was for us.
Also, I loved her comment that the safest place in the world is the center of God’s will. Although she did some very impressive things, she was careful to emphasize that it was God working through her, not her own power. It reminded me of the words of the Apostle Paul, in the verse in Philippians that says “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” and another verse in 2nd Corinthians “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Because she was obeying God’s will, she was given the strength to do these things, even though she was only (in her own words) “a plain spinster watchmaker in her 50s.”
What would the world look like if every Christian tried to really live out their faith? If we tried to love everyone, even if they’re very different from us, remembering that we are all made “in the image of God”? After all, we are commanded to love one another, just as Christ loved us. Obviously, this is impossible to do on our own, but it IS possible if we remember that we are the branches and He is the Vine, and allow His love to flow through us.