We recently finished reading The Hiding Place. It felt like visiting with an old friend whom I hadn't seen for a long time- I knew all of the stories she would tell and the things she would say but it was a delight to sit down and hear them all over again. The book tells the story of Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker who ended up in a concentration camp after being arrested for helping Jews escape from the Nazis. The book describes the life of this family with the faith so solid that the ravages of Ravensbruck only served to strengthen it.
The story starts off with a delightful and delicious description of the watch shop's hundredth birthday party. I've read this book so many times I can practically smell the coffee alongside Nollie's buttery cookies and hear the little ker-plinks of five sugar lumps dropping into Pickwick's coffee cup. I can picture all the rooms and squeaks and creaks of the Beje and its twisted stairways. I can smell Eusie's pipe and Betsie's soup and I can see the little Alpina triangle in the window. In my head I can hear Peter playing the piano and the bicycle wheels turning to power the headlamp and Mary Itallie's wheezing. I know all the characters so well in my mind - practical Corrie and her beloved Betsie, who could 'make a party out of three potatoes and some twice-used tea leaves'. Dear Father, so kind and gentle and wise and faithful. I love them all dearly. The stories are so familiar to me that they form a standard repertoire of object lessons in my mind, frequently called upon for their wisdom and nail-on-the-head accuracy for so many situations in life. The traveling case, the train ticket, the broken heart, the fleas. Oh, the beauty of the fleas.
So much of what we want in life is beautifully portrayed, like a lavish feast to be savored, in the stories in this book. How to love beauty. How to choose joy. How to know and love God's word so deeply that it flows in you and all you do, giving life as it courses through you. Trust. Love. Forgiveness. Unselfishness. That I Thessalonians 5:18 really is the secret to all joy and happiness. That I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me finally becomes real when we are faced with something we Absolutely. Can. Not. Do. And then we let Him do it through us. Grace. Encouragement. Little gifts from the Father's hand to give us a glimpse of His tender, loving care for us. Knowing Truth really does set us free.
Lent is a good time to re-read this book and reflect on the darkness of this life on earth and how we are called to be light. As Holy Week approaches and I contemplate the cross I marvel at the mystery that we are invited to enter into suffering with Him, and some of us greatly so. Suffering takes us right to the cross, right to Him - if we let it. It is through suffering that we are most intimately and expediently united with Him.
I want Him to always be my hiding place.