Monday, September 24, 2007

The Hiding Place

"You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word...Hold me up, and I will be safe..." Psalm 119:114,117

In my 8th grade English class, we are just finishing The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. This is a powerful book about one Christian family from Holland who dared to risk their lives to harbor Jews during the Nazi reign of terror that had invaded their country. If you have areas of your life where you are struggling with forgiveness or with being grateful, this book will speak to your heart. Each time I read through the book, I am struck again by the miraculous journey that Corrie takes from hatred to forgiveness. She endured and witnessed such horrendous things, and her natural responses mirrored what most of ours would be. However, she is contrasted throughout the book with her sister, Betsie, who is able to keep God's perspective through all of the betrayal, punishment, torture, disease, and deadly circumstances. Corrie lost both her father and her sister, Betsie, while they were in the concentration camps. Corrie is eventually released because a clerk mistakenly recorded her number, 66730, on a list of women to be freed, instead of on the list of women her age to be executed.

She went on to establish a home in a vast estate in Holland for people who had either been held in concentration camps or hidden in attics, farmhouses, crawl spaces or back closets for two, three, or even four years. The 56-room home and land was donated to Corrie's work by a woman whose five sons worked with the resistance. Corrie also turned her family's home in Haarlem into a healing place for the Dutch men who had signed on with the Nazi's and betrayed their own countrymen; she saw the anguish they suffered because of their participation in persecuting their own. Corrie then began traveling to speak to groups about the power of God to save and to help heal their raw and broken hearts, and she found the greatest need to be in Germany itself. She helped to turn a former concentration camp into a place of healing for people who had been part of the atrocities committed against humanity. Churches in Germany stepped up and began to minister to their fellow countrymen. Those in the church helped to take away rolls and rolls of barbed wire; they painted the pale gray block buildings the green of new life in spring. They placed window boxes with flowers along the fronts of the buildings. The place of death and torture was redeemed to be a place of hope and healing. The name of Jesus was lifted up as thousands turned to Him in need of forgiveness and healing. Others needed the power of God to be able to forgive and move on with their lives. Corrie was God's instrument of grace, and she lived out her remaining years (until she was 91) sharing God's love all over the globe.

I have a Modesto Bee newspaper article from 1974 which details Corrie's visit to Turlock. She spoke in churches and at the War Memorial building for youth groups in the area. My sister-in-law heard her speak and saved the article all these years. What a treasure to share with my students!

Corrie liked to use props when she spoke, and one of those was a piece of material she called the "crown." She would begin by holding up what appeared to be nothing more than rough blue cloth with tangled knots of gold thread hanging from it. She would then recite this poem by the American hymnist Grant Colfaz Tullar:

"My Life Is Like a Weaving

My life is like a weaving
between my God and me.
I do not choose the colors
He works so steadily.
Sometimes He weaves sorrow
and I in foolish pride
forget he sees the upper,
and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly
will God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why
the dark threads are as needful
in the skillful weaver's hand
as the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.

Corrie would then triumphantly flip the cloth over to show her audience what God sees: a golden crown on a field of blue! That is what the believer will eventually see of God's plan in heaven, Corrie insisted." (pages 239-240)

That reminds me of a line from an old Carol King song (yes, I know all her songs of old!) that says,
"My life has been a tapestry
Of rich and royal hue."

I'm sure we've heard the analogy before, but it is good to remember that in this life we see only the back side of the cloth. There are knots every where and colors that cross over one another in no particular order, but when we look at the other side, we see what all the mess makes possible - a beautiful tapestry, rich in color and texture. We must strive to remember that our earthly view is not God's eternal view.

There are dark threads in my life, and in the lives of every person I know, that I see no good reason for, but God sees the finished product. And you know what? It's beautiful! We must hold on and believe. We must ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us. We must surrender to the working of that dark thread through our lives, often into the very core of our hearts, in order for the picture on the other side to be complete.

Anyway, I'm not always so serious in my posts, but my focus has been on this novel and what it is speaking to me personally. If you get a chance, read the book or get the movie. It will strengthen your faith and teach you that love triumphs over all.

I believe that God is calling me and our church to a greater love for Him, for each other, and for those yet to know Him. This book has further stirred that conviction in my heart. I am asking you to step out in faith to follow Him in that path. True love will cost us something, but the returns will be eternal.

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