13: Corrie

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom.

She was beauty rearranged, chiseled by the hardest of hurts and the greatest of loves.

I thought of her today, as we sang “Great I am.”  In praising my God I remembered the one of the miracles in her life.

This was no small thing.

Getting released from the horrendous CONCENTRATION CAMP (Ravensbruck – I can’t bring myself to put a picture of it here)…

1 week before all were executed?  On a clerical error?  Only GOD!  Only The Great I am!

And ONLY HE could take the hate and horrors that she was immersed in there and bring out the diamond that she became.  (Her story is told in The Hiding Place (a book and film that will change your life!).

The woman lived with serious joy, and yet anger still knocked on her door when she was elderly just as it did in her youth. BUT He never let her forget where to take the hurt, how to get His salve.

I’ve sometimes found it easy to chase the theology and the words.

She chased Obedience.

She chased simple, childlike Faith.

unspeakable, upside-down wisdom!  

The beauty and faith that grew in this woman is something that should be on display at the Louvre.

This passage comes from one of my favorites “Tramp for the Lord” {read “homeless for the Lord”}.

After the war Germany was filled with wounds and scars – not all of them on the surface. In one tiny cubicle in the camp at Darmstady, I found a German lawyer. He was sitting miserably in a wheelchair, the stumps of his legs poking out from under a lap blanket. He was filled with bitterness, hatred, and self pity. He told me he had once been an active member of his Lutheran church and as a boy had rung the church bell in the village where he lived. Now the horrible injustice of war had taken his legs, and he was bitter against God and man.

I felt attracted to him since some of his experiences were similar to mine. One morning, I made a special trip to his room to tell him something of my life.

I found him sitting in his wheelchair, staring at a blank wall. His face was gray, his eyes lifeless. I was never one for introductions, so I got right away to the point of my visit.

“The only way to get rid of bitterness is to surrender to it, I said.”

He turned slowly and looked at me. “What do you know about bitterness?”, he asked. “You still have your legs.”

“Let me tell you a story,” I said. “In Holland, during the war, a man came to me begging me to help him liberate his wife. I felt compassion for him and gave him all my money. I convinced my friends to do the same. But the man was a quisling, a traitor. The only reason he came to me was to trap me so he could have me arrested. Not only did he betray me, but he betrayed my entire family and friends. We were all sent to prison where three members of my family died.

“You ask me about bitterness and hatred. You only hate circumstances, but I hated a man. Sitting in the prison in my homeland, waiting to be transferred to a concentration camp in Germany, hatred and bitterness filled my heart. I wanted that man to die. I know what it is like to hate. That is why I can understand you.”

The lawyer turned his chair to face me. He was listening. “So, you have hated also. What do you suggest I do about my hate?”

“What I have to say is of no importance. Let me tell you what the Son of God had to say. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive your trespasses’ (See Matt. 6: 14-15) If we forgive other people, our hearts are made fit to receive forgiveness.”

The lawyer shifted uneasily in his wheelchair. I could see the muscles in his neck stand out as he pushed with his hands to change position. “When we repent, I continued, “God forgives us and cleanses us. That is what I did, believing that if I confessed my sin God would be faithful and just to cleanse my sin and forgive me from all unrighteousness.”

The lawyer looked at me and shook his head,

“This is easy to say, but my hatred is too deep to have it washed away.”

No deeper than mine, I said. “Yet when I confessed it, only did Jesus take it away, He filled me with love -even the ability to love my enemy.”

“You mean you actually loved the man who betrayed you and who was responsible for the death of your family?”

I nodded. “After the war, when that man was sentenced to death, I corresponded with him, and God used me to show him the way of salvation before he was executed.”

The lawyer shook his head. “What a miracle!” “What a miracle!” You mean Jesus can do that to a person? I shall have to give this much thought.”

Since I have learned not to push a person past beyond where God has left him, I bade my friend goodbye and returned to my room.

A year later I was in Darmstadt again. My friends had given this man a car with special fixtures so he could drive without legs. He met me at the train station to bring me to the camp. AS I got in the car, he laughed at my startled look.

“You taught me that Jesus is victor,” he said. “Now surely you are not afraid to drive with a man who has no legs.”

“You are  right, I answered, “I shall not be afraid. I am so glad to see you again. How are you?”

“Fine. I must tell you at the very beginning that I have surrendered my bitterness to God. I repented, and the Lord did just as you said. He forgave me and filled my heart with His love. Now I am working in the refuge camp and am praising God that He can use even a legless man if he is surrendered.”

He paused, and then continued. “But there is something I must know.

After you forgave your enemies, was it settled once and for all?”

“Oh no, I answered. Just this month I had a sad experience with friends who behaved like enemies. They promised something but did not keep their promise. In fact, they took great advantage of me. However, I surrendered my bitterness to the Lord, asked forgiveness and He took it away.”

We were bouncing over a bumpy road, but the lawyer was more intent on me than his driving. “Was the bitterness gone for good then?”

“No, just the next night, at four o’ clock, I awoke and my heart was filled with bitterness again. I thought, How could my dear friend behave as she did? Again, I brought it to the Lord. He filled my heart with His love. But the next night, it came back again. I was so discouraged. God had used me often to help people to love their enemies, and I could always give my testimony about what He had done in my life; but now I felt defeated.

“Then I remembered Ephesians 6:10-20 where Paul describes the “armour of God.” He said that even after you have come to a standstill, still stand your ground. I was at a standstill, so I decided to stand my ground, and the bitterness and resentment fell away before me.

“Corrie ten Boom without the Lord Jesus cannot be victorious. I need the Lord every moment. And I have learned that I am absolutely dependent on Him. Because of this He has made me rich.”

We were arriving at the refuge camp, and my lawyer friend parked before the building, turned off the motor and looked at me with a grin. “I am glad to hear that, ” he said. “For sometimes my old bitterness returns. Now I just stand my ground, claim the victory of Jesus over fear and resentment, and love even when I don’t want to.”

31 days rearranged beauty

2 thoughts on “13: Corrie

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