January 06, 2009

A Great Book

Tuesday morning.

Finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom yesterday. It was a wonderful book. There were so many stories in the book that have so much wisdom. Corrie's father was a very wise and gentle man. He was beloved by all who knew him. One day Corrie was riding the train into Amsterdam so her father who was a watchmaker and repairman could set his watch by the Astronomical Clock so his watch shop where he lived in Haarlem would be accurate to the second. Corrie had heard a word of which she didn't know what it meant and asked her father about it on the train ride, this was his response.

"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 rack 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."

My favorite parts in the book are when God fills His people with what they need, when they need it. Bravery, acceptance, forgiveness...all come at the right time when they know it is God who gives it. Not a moment too soon. There is a part at the end of the book when Corrie was speaking of forgiveness to a group of people at a church. In the back she saw one of the soldiers who was in the concentration camp where she was a prisoner. She was speaking on God's forgiveness that he offers to all His people. After the talk was done this man came up to Corrie, who I don't think he had realized was in the camp with him or that she remembered him.

"He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. "How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein." he said. "To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!"
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Blemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand, a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
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."

Then later in the book after Corrie has aged, she has seen to the broken and weary, she has spoken of the story of her life, she was visiting some friends. Their daughter Liz was helping Corrie empty her suitcase.

From the bottom of the suitcase, Liz lifted a folded cloth with some very amateur-looking needlework on it-uneven stitches, mismatched colors, loose threads, snarls. "What are you making?" Liz asked bewildered. Oh, that's not mine Corrie said, that is the work of the greatest weaver of all." Liz looked dubiously at the tangled mess. "But Liz," Corrie told her, "you're looking at the wrong side!" She took the sorry thing from Liz's hand. "This is what our lives look like, from our limited viewpoint."
Then, with a flourish, Corrie shook open the cloth and turned it around to display a magnificent crown embroidered in red, purple and gold. "but when we turn over the threads of our lives to God, this is what He sees!"


These great people of faith who I love to read about all have one thing in common. They know God's word, they follow His will, they humble themselves for the cause of Christ. They seek God and know His word. I look back to a time when I was searching for God, in an extreme way. I had turned my life around and given it to Him, but the only real contact I had with His word was on Sundays and Wednesdays during church and class. I didn't realize then that by not seeking Him for myself in study of His word and humbling myself to Him in prayer, I was starving myself. If living a full life in God is a ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato, I was eating the lettuce. Going to church and "being" good was I thought what Christianity was about. I was very wrong, as wrong as I could have been. I might have made a good pharisee, but I made a terrible follower of Christ. Although I don't believe God was shaking his fist at me from heaven, He was wanting me to enjoy the whole sandwich not just the lettuce, He was wanting me to seek fullness that can only come from Him. I am grateful that He wants me to eat more than lettuce, because that gets pretty boring very quickly. If you are bored of eating lettuce and warming a pew God has much more than that for you, in fact, being a follower of Christ is always a challenge. It is much easier to do what the world thinks is right. There are stories to be written about how God used this generation to bring His word to His people, stories of crazy love like Corrie's, stories of crazy service like Mother Teresa, these stories are written by God but involve His people who want His life in abundance. In the spirit of Shane Claiborne, come join the irresistible revolution.