I am not sure how I have made it this far in my journey as a Christian to now have just read the book The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. This book, with the exception of the Bible, has had the biggest impact on me of any book I have ever read.
As I was reading through the book, I would exclaim out loud or let out a gasp of shock or an utterance which came purely from my spirit. I tried to explain how the book was affecting me twice to my husband by saying, “Well…(pause)…I…(pause)…” The problem was I had no words to explain what I was feeling.
Have you ever told someone you love them and felt the words to be so inadequate, insignificant, or not strong enough to truly explain the wealth of emotion which was in your heart. This is how I felt and still feel about describing this book. I feel my words will be inadequate, but there are three main things God has helped me to glean from the pages of this book.
When you read about people who have lived in some of the most deplorable conditions you can imagine, it sure does make you thankful for what you have. Conditions such as overflowing toilets with fecal matter everywhere, dead bodies lying in the corner of the room, lice, and no baths for months.
Most of all though were the fleas. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, got moved to a room inside the German prison they were imprisoned in only to find out it was infested with fleas. During their Bible reading that very morning, they had read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) which says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As the sisters stood there, they prayed and thanked God for the fleas! Fleas!! Later they would find out that God had used the fleas to keep the guards away which allowed these women to have Bible studies and have several of these women prisoners come to know Christ.
If they could be thankful for fleas, I need to be thankful about so much more in my life. This was so clear!
I would like to think that I am selfless sometimes. I might even be blessed enough for some of my friends or my family to tell me that I am selfless for their sake a lot. I think it is easier to be selfless with the people I love than with a toal stranger. It is the selfishness in the little things such as not letting the person behind me who only has five items go in front of me in the supermarket line when I am in a hurry. It is like this morning when I had an opportunity to let someone have a traffic advantage in front of me, but I hurried ahead in order to be able to make the light. It is saying no to a church outreach function with the excuse of “family time” when truly in my heart it might be selfishness with my time or just pure laziness.
There is the ugliness and the truth of it all. I might dare to say too that most of us all do it too to some extent. This book helped me to see that what God calls us to do sometimes requires more selflessness than I had ever considered or maybe wanted to accept. Seeing these women do hard things and make choices which had serious negative repercussions for them individually was truly inspirational. So challenging when we live in a society which teaches it is all about us.
IT IS NOT ABOUT US. IT IS ABOUT GOD.
As I said before, Corrie and her sister were in a prison living under what we as Americans would consider deplorable conditions. I have no doubt that God had them in that prison to bring Christ to those inside those walls. God allowed them to be there. Was it the best thing for Corrie or her sister physically or mentally? It could surely be argued that it was not, but it brought so much glory to God. So much that it makes me want to weep!
I think it is easy to think that if we are following Christ, we will be blessed. The truth is, it is not about my comfort. It is about what will bring the most glory to Christ even if that means I am very uncomfortable, even if that means my life will be in danger, or even if that means it is not the best for me. The truth of this book is that when you are stripped literally of everything you own and you are standing there naked, there is only the Lord and you. He is the only one that matters!
If you have not read this book, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It was a game changer for me. Maybe it will deepen who you know God to be and help you to see how God is the only hiding place.
“You are a hiding place for me; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”