Living in Freedom

What do you need this year? Is it confidence, hope, peace, forgiveness–either for yourself or toward someone else?

Will we shift with the changing variances of politics, economics, belief systems, hurts? If we do, our feet will slip easily, not having stood on solid ground.

Many of you will recall reading about Corrie Ten Boom, author of THE HIDING PLACE. In 1922, Corrie was the first woman licensed as a watchmaker in the Netherlands. Over the next ten years, in addition to working in her father’s watchmaking shop, she established a youth club for teenage girls, providing religious instruction and classes in performing arts, sewing, and handicrafts. The faith of Corrie and her family led them to serve their society by offering shelter, food and money to those in need.

The family determined to help the Jews during Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, which began in 1940. At great danger to themselves, they offered a haven for Jewish fugitives. The Dutch Underground Resistance learned of their activities and sent an architect to create a concealed space within their home, “the Beje.” Whenever neighborhood sweeps happened, a buzzer alerted the resident Jews to crawl into “the hiding place” and remain completely still until the raid ended.

Corrie also became involved in directing some of the underground movement to smuggle Jews to other safe homes. It’s estimated that 800 Jewish lives were saved because of her work.

What caused this family, this woman, to risk their own lives to help those less fortunate? Some important tenets of their faith included the fact that the Jews were God’s chosen people, and that all people are created equal.

In February 1944, a neighbor betrayed them and the family was arrested. Corrie’s father died ten days later. The Jews hidden in the concealed room were not discovered and were later moved, with the help of police who were part of the Resistance, to other locations.

Eventually Corrie and Betsie were taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where they led Bible studies at night with a Bible Corrie had been able to smuggle into the camp, despite the thorough searches of the guards. Her dear sister, Betsie, died in the camp in December 1944, telling Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.

George Macdonald, Author and Mentor to C.S. Lewis

Twelve days after Betsie’s death, Corrie was released–later learned to be due to a “clerical error.” A week later all those in her age group were sent to the gas chamber.

It would have been easy for Corrie to become bitter. After the camp was freed by the Americans, she spoke about forgiveness in a church in Germany. Afterward, a man approached her, offering his hand to shake hers. She immediately recognized him as one of the Ravensbruck guards who had been particularly cruel to Betsie.

Arm stiff at her side, would Corrie shake his hand, forgive him? Or could she not because of the horrors he and the Nazi system had perpetrated on her and her family?

She quickly asked God for strength, reached out and shook this guard’s hand. It was one of those moments where one has to think “Will I act as I believe; or as I feel.” She acted on her belief in the forgiveness of God.

Corrie ten Boom at Right with Billy Graham and others in front of the old watch shop

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

C.S. Lewis

Forgiveness. The reason Jesus Christ came to earth to live among us, to die a criminal’s death, and rise again. Because he took the penalty for our sins–yours and mine–on himself, we can be free of the weight, bondage, and penalty of sin.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9, NIV

I love another quote by Hannah More, an English religious writer and philanthropist who died in 1833.

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.

Hannah More

Forgiveness frees us, not only from the penalty of our own sin, but from the burden of anger, hatred and a bitter spirit that grow in us when we refuse to forgive someone else.

Is there anyone you need to forgive? I thought of this on the weekend and realized I still have some resentment in my heart toward a (very) few people who have hurt me. And I choose to let that resentment go. Sometimes that takes forgiving multiple times, perhaps prayer with a deep friend, or counseling, before we’re able to really let the issue go; but isn’t living in the light of freedom, with a heart that doesn’t hold onto past hurts, worth working that through with God?

I think so. I hope you do too.

2 Responses

  1. MarJean Peters says:

    Thank you, dear Carol, for this great reminder! Though I’ve forgiven, the enemy stands at the door or window always ready to accuse again and again. Therefore, there is no end of forgiveness until Jesus comes. Every day I get to make the choice to continually forgive and walk in freedom by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. How grateful I am for God’s continual river of grace to me! Thank you for your faithfulness to Him by blogging His messages to you for us. I’m also grateful for your grace to me!!

    • carolnl says:

      I appreciate your comment, Karen, and agree. Forgiveness is rarely a one-time event and the end to forgiveness will be when Jesus returns and all that is behind us! I too need to make the choice regularly to forgive again in some cases. God’s gracious forgiveness to me is beyond anything I might need to forgive. Love your “river of grace”. Amen! You have also extended grace to me and I’m thankful for you!

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