There are many books I’ll never read. Some I shouldn’t. Some I should have a long time ago. When I first cracked the cover of The Hiding Place, I couldn’t figure out why it had taken me so long to decide to read it. I also didn’t know that this very book would become one of the most riveting and absorbing stories I will ever read.
What is a Christian To Do?
World War II was an epic time. The world suffered unimaginable evil, astronomical losses—our adjectives aren’t big enough to describe the heartache and depravity of the time.
As Nazi tanks rolled over the Dutch border, they brought moral questions for Christians like the Corrie ten Boom and her family. How were Christians to live in times like these? How were they to honor the authorities when those authorities were murderous and illegal? Could they break God’s commandment “You shall not lie” to save a life? What about forging papers and stealing ration cards?
Under the Swastika
In The Hiding Place, Corrie shares the Ten Boom story, sharing about the memorable people living above Father’s clockshop that had been his father’s before him. She tells about her first day at school and how her father’s love carried her through a painful broken dream. She tells about her mother’s soft yet strong example, and the varying personalities and depths of her siblings and aunts that filled her childhood days.
But soon those idyllic years end. In their place came the Nazi swastika, chasing off Jewish neighbors and sparking violence like their community had never seen. As neighbors disappeared and rumors spread, the Ten Booms knew they had to take a stand. Somehow.
Thrust into this crazy new reality, Corrie and her family did what they had always done. They prayed. They sought the will of God. And then they acted, pushing through fear and doubt and confusion and exhaustion to help whoever God brought to them. Soon they were hiding Jews, providing illegal ration cards, and finding safe places in other homes and towns. The work grew harder. More dangerous.
“That night Father and Betsie and I prayed long after the others had gone to bed. We knew that in spite of daily mounting risks we had no choice but to move forward. This was evil’s hour: we could not run away from it. Perhaps only when human effort had done its best and failed, would God’s power alone be free to work.” – The Hiding Place, p. 138
The Hiding Place is a narrative of real lives in real history, not a topic-by-topic discussion of moral questions. As we follow Corrie’s life, we learn lessons as she did—in real time, in a sense. It’s life as it comes to us, lived and learned in moments that stand out from the rest.
Instead of offering abstract advice for some future difficulty we might face, Corrie shares a testimony of how real Christians in real history responded in the face of very real evil. They had not prepared for it, really, but God had prepared them.
And we might find that God uses this story to prepare us for a difficulty we can’t see yet.
Witnesses With Us
It was a time no once could escape. And they didn’t escape it. Father, sister, brother, nephew, friend, neighbor—all were witnesses of God’s work through terribly dark times. In their suffering and heartache and confusion and doubt, they became examples for us, going before us. As we read their testimony, we see His work then through horrible circumstances, and we understand better how He works now. Through their story, we will be better equipped to see Him work in ours.
And through the incomprehensible grace of God, our stories fold into the one God has been writing for ages past—by far, the most riveting story ever told.
“But this is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for a future that only He can see.” – p. 12
“It was a day for memories. A day for calling up the past. How could we have guessed as we sat there – two middle-aged spinsters and an old man – than in place of memories were about to be given adventures such as we had never dreamed of? Adventure and anguish, horror and heaven were just around the corner, and we did not know.” – p. 23
“I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” – p. 31
“‘My dear sister-in-law,’ Father began gently, ‘there is a joyous journey which each of God’s children sooner or later sets out on. And, Jans, some must go to their Father empty-handed, but you will run to Him with hands full!’
‘All your clubs…,’ Tante Anna ventured.
‘Your writings…,’ Mama added.
‘The funds you’ve raised…,’ said Betsie.
‘Your talks…,’ I began.
But our well-meant words were useless. In front of us the proud face crumpled; Tante Jans put her hands over her eyes and began to cry. ‘Empty, empty!’ she choked at last through her tears. ‘How can we bring anything to God? What does He care for our little tricks and trinkets?’
And then as we listened in disbelief she lowered her hands and, with tears still coursing down her face, whispered, ‘Dear Jesus, I thank You that we must come with empty hands. I thank You that You have done it all—all—on the cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this.’” – p. 55
“Betsie’s finger traced a pattern on the wooden sink worn smooth by generations of ten Booms. ‘I don’t know,’ she said softly. ‘But if God has shown us bad times ahead, it’s enough for me that He knows about them. That’s why He sometimes shows us things, you know – to tell us that this too is in His hands.’” – p. 80 – Betsie
“‘Don’t say it, Corrie! There are no “ifs” in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – Oh Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!’” – p. 84
“Love. How did one show it? How could God Himself show truth and love at the same time in a world like this? By dying. The answer stood out for me sharper and chillier than it ever had before that night: the shape of a Cross etched on the history of the world.” – p. 108
Lauren Dunn is a writer and toddler teacher who can’t remember the last time she read a book without highlighting in it or dog-earing it. Except for the ones from the library. She loves cookie dough ice cream, spending time with people, and seeing the clouds in the Midwestern sky. You can find more of her thoughts at These Traveling Days.