Recently, I found a book on the shelf of my local public library that was unfamiliar to me. “In My Father’s House” was written by Corrie ten Boom, author of the spiritual classic, “The Hiding Place.” The latter work describes her days as a prisoner of the Nazis, along with her sister, Betsy. Their crime? They had hidden Jews in their home in the Netherlands, and were eventually arrested and deported to a concentration camp. This heroic story of Christian sacrifice was made into a movie by the same name.
Years ago, I read another of her books, “Tramp For The Lord,” which describes her years as a world-traveling evangelist. This book is a classic as well. Corrie has much to say about the power of the Gospel, for she was its faithful servant and a powerful witness to Jesus Christ well into old age. Overflowing admiration for her and gratitude to God is the only appropriate response! Her books radiate such light and wisdom, providing the reader with great inspiration for walking the “narrow road that leads to heaven.” -Matthew 7:14
The reason I write today about “In My Father’s House,” is that if there is one lesson that Corrie gets across on almost every page, it is this quote of hers; ” This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” This theme is borne out from the examples taken from her own life, growing up in such a strong, Christian home. Whenever she recounts some grace that came into her life as a young person, either through her father’s great witness of faith, or other family members, she connects it to a future which she could never have anticipated. Each Bible lesson learned early, illustrates how God prepared her for a time to come, which would be horrendous in so many ways.
Holy Week presents many stirring events from the last days of Jesus, and causes some of us to ponder. One question emerges from our listening carefully to the Passion narrative. How did He endure it all? And enduring it, how did he keep his composure, offering only love and mercy to those who showed him such intense hatred and brutality?
Of course, this is ultimately unknowable. If accessed at all, it can only be through the Holy Spirit and through our own faith-filled prayer. When I think of Corrie ten Boom, I marvel at how she not only endured the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, but also shared the love and mercy of Jesus Christ with her fellow prisoners, and even with cruel guards. How did she do it?
“This is what the past is for. Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our life, is perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
Yes, Corrie! I understand. This must have been true for Jesus, too! His acceptance of the agony of the Cross must have been what the Father prepared him for, his whole life long. As one who was fully human, he would have needed preparation to shoulder the Cross, just as Corrie ten Boom did when the Cross came into her life.
What about your future and mine? Do you ever wonder if there is a greater darkness ahead for our nation and our world? And if so, do you ever find yourself doubting, as I often do, that you won’t be prepared to endure what persecution and suffering may come? I shudder to think of what it will be like to live in a thoroughly post-Christian society, a time that Isaiah prophesied, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good, evil.” -5:20
Yet, along comes the remembrance of the last days of Jesus. Once again, we are invited to Calvary with the Blessed Mother, St. John and those holy women. There, with our eyes fixed on the “suffering servant”, we will be reminded that if he did it, then so can we.
Everything and every person in your life is preparation for your future, a future that only God can see.
For a wonderful link, go here and see many photos and quotes of Corrie ten Boom. Such holiness exudes from her beautiful face!