There are lots of ups and downs in life.
Especially when you’re a teenager.
Lucy was in the middle of some tricky emotional navigation a little while ago, and I had this undeniable nudge that we should read The Hiding Place together.
You know how some people are filled up with all kinds of inspiration? (Maybe you are one of them.) I am not generally one of those people. Oh sure, I feel prompted to write someone a note or I feel pulled to this or that. But I don’t get specifics like “you should read this book.”
But this was specific.
The book was borrowed from a friend years ago (sorry I still have it, Erin!). It had been sitting in my pile of “to read” books (I listen to so much these days) ever since. And even though I have seen it sitting there a million times, I had really been praying for Lucy and searching my heart for that girl, and it hit me hard: we needed to read this book.
So we did.
At first all those Dutch words were tricky to read aloud and I had to work to get Lucy hooked. But then we were there. Together. That book enveloping us in love and beauty.
I know this is a classic and so many have already read it, but for those who haven’t, it’s a true story of how Corrie Ten Boom, a middle-aged Dutch watchmaker, came to know God in the middle of one of Hitler’s concentration camps.
She is sent to the camp as a punishment for being part of a resistance underground network helping every Jewish person she can. And under those harrowing circumstances, her kind heart is continually turned to God, with the help of her sister Betsie. There are SO many stories within this story that I would love to share, but I’ll just share one:
There is a time where Corrie and Betsie are sent to the depths of Germany after being put in various “holding camps.” They are assigned to sleep in a large barrack with hundreds of other women…five to a bed…filled with fleas (after they have already experienced lice, incredibly horrendous working conditions, starving). When they pray at night Betsie reminds Corrie to thank God for everything. Even the fleas. Corrie is baffled and tells her story in awe that her sister, frail and sick, would still want to be thankful for fleas.
In the meantime, in any spare moments between work shifts the two women are able to spread God’s love to so many other women with the small Bible they were miraculously able to smuggle in. They wonder at the miracle that no guards are on watch, and that they have the freedom to gradually change the whole atmosphere in that dark, cruel barrack with God’s love.
And then one day they have an experience that makes them realize it was the fleas. No guard wanted to enter that infestation. And their gratitude became even more palpable for those fleas.
I don’t want to give away the ending for those who want to read it, but I will say that I always thought this book was called The Hiding Place because it was about how Corrie’s house was situated in such a way someone in the resistance was able make a “hiding place” for the Jews they were helping. But it was so much more than that. It was more about a “hiding place” in God’s love, where cruelty and darkness could not find these women. Where they were able to come out of even the most harsh conditions with their soft, good hearts in tact. Light and goodness as they forgave their oppressors and loved those who used them.
We were at Bear Lake last week and Lucy and I read and read, both of us thirsting for more until we reached the end. I could barely read through the last few words in an addition at the end: “when we seem to have nothing left in the world to make life beautiful–that’s when God says: you’re richer than you think.”
I was teary because of this book. Because of God’s goodness. Because of Lucy. Because of that strung nudge to read all those words with her. How I hope those words will sink in to both of us and stay with us. That we will remember snuggling on that couch, the commotion of pre-reunion going on around us, being grateful for our own “hiding places” where we find God even in the parts of life where we feel forsaken.
God is awake.