A Future Only God Sees

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?

Mosaic from Santa Barbara Mission, California
Mosaic from Santa Barbara Mission, California

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.

Oh Mary, Mother of Sorrows, pray for us!
Oh Mary, Mother of Sorrows, pray for us!

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!

Got Praise?

 We’ve all heard the phrase, “got milk?” This blog attempts to answer a different question.

Prayer (praise) is one of the important Lenten disciplines, but for the 40 Days for Life campaign, it’s one of the 3 sources of fuel that power the engine of this movement.  11,165 babies have been saved by the 40 Days for Life campaigns.

St. Paul said “…so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.”  – Eph 1:12

My husband as the Great Apostle, Christ the King, Westmere
My husband as the Great Apostle at Christ the King, Westmere  (see below for dates of upcoming events)

Can we say this is true? Do we live for the praise of God’s glory?

I struggle with this. I take time for prayer each morning but at other points in the day, it’s hard to calm my soul and let God in….or listen for His voice.  My husband and I often sing praise songs together, but sometimes when he asks me to sing with him, my first thought is; “I don’t feel like it” or “I have something else to do.”

But as we enter into praise, our joy increases and there’s nothing else we’d rather be doing.  For as we praise the Lord, our souls are lifted closer to God and ‘heaven breaks in.’  We hope that one day, we’ll be looking at Jesus face-to-face.  But heaven doesn’t have to be a far-off reality.  God wants that for us here and now.  And the more we lift our hearts to heaven, as we do in praising God, the closer heaven comes to us.

Senior Pastor of Schenectady’s First Presbyterian Church, Rev. Larry Roff said, “Praise is the most important reason that we were created.”  And he cited Psalm 102:19;

“Let this be written for the generation to come, and let his future creatures praise the Lord.”

We who praise the Lord today are the answer to the Psalmist’s prayer.

Each time we pray the “Our Father,” we pray, “thy kingdom come.”  As we praise God, that kingdom breaks in.  It begins by us spending time with Jesus, who loves and treasures us, and who wants to enter into our everyday joys, problems and other aspects of our lives.

The angels and saints sing perpetual praises to God on the throne. (Rev. 5:13)  When we praise God, we join in their praises.

Our most fervent prayer at Planned Parenthood has been praise!  It sounds ironic because there we are, outside of a place where terrible things are happening.  But as we lift up our voices in vocal praise, ‘heaven breaks in’ on State Street.  We feel it.  Moreover, there is objective evidence.  As people walking by and driving in cars give us ‘thumbs up,’ we realize that they are responding to a grace.  Most importantly, people stop to tell us that they chose to have their child because people were praying outside of Planned Parenthood.

If you’re struggling in your life or you need a reason to praise God, spend five minutes thanking Him for all the good in your life.  Even thank Him for the challenges, for these help us to grow.  After these five minutes, chances are you’ll feel like praising Him.

Here’s a Youtube you can sing with in the comfort of your home…..

Got praise?

[This is part of a talk I gave recently at the 40 Days for Life kickoff rally. Please go to the link to learn more about this powerful national pro-life movement.]

On Wed. March 9, “Visit” will take place at Our Lady of Help of Christians, in Brooklyn at 7:30 PM.    On March 11, come and see St. Paul at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish on 1550 Hendrickson St.  It takes place right after the Stations, which begin at 7:00 PM.