Posted by Ascension

As I mentioned on Ascension’s Facebook, I thought there was an incongruity in our lunchtime book club discussion about ‘The Hiding Place’ by Corrie Ten Boom and our surroundings: sitting outside in the sun, enjoy a nice light lunch, good company, pleasant backdrop of lawns, tended gardens, space, tranquillity. A far cry from much of the contents of the book.
We discussed the book. The situation then and how we might react. ‘I will open my door to anyone in need …’ (Corrie’s father). Consequences. Courage. Fear. Responsibilities. The presence of God; the power of the Holy Spirit; meditation on Christ’s suffering. Words in the sun. What inspired us. Challenged us. Right at the end of the book one thing I remembered …
It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the process-ing centre at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the room-ful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our good-ness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself. – Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place. — GS