I recently read The Hiding Place, an amazing retelling by Corrie Ten Boom of her heroic actions in hiding and rescuing many Jews in Holland during World War II, and her brutal time spent in a Nazi concentration camp because of it. I marveled at the faith of Corrie and her sister Betsie, as they withstood the most horrific conditions with little more than one flimsy outfit and some smuggled pages of the New Testament. Their faith in Jesus was unshakable.
Yet even in her amazing faith and courage, Corrie was still human. At one point in the story, when they were suffering perhaps the most in the dead of winter, Corrie tells of her discovery that if she maneuvered her way toward the middle of the roll-call formation where they sometimes stood for hours before the guards, she would have a little more protection from the brutal wind. Corrie admits this was self-centered, as it meant that someone else had to stand on the edge and be subjected to greater cold than she. Another time, Corrie recounts that new prisoners arrived without a blanket and her sister insisted that they give up theirs to share. Yet, Corrie was only willing to “lend” her blanket, insisting on holding onto it in her heart.
Even Corrie Ten Boom, like you and me, wrestled with the selfishness of her own human heart. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Every one of us. We need a rescuer. A redeemer. A Savior.
Who can rescue us from the depth of our sin and the selfishness of our own hearts? This Easter we celebrate the fact that only ONE can and has: Jesus. The Word says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5: 8) Jesus willingly laid his life down for all of us. The greatest act of selflessness, for you and for me. Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)
And as if complete forgiveness of our sins wasn’t enough, he offers us even more: His JOY. Jesus promises that for every believer who abides in his love and obeys his commands, His joy will be in us and our joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)
In the context of the horrific conditions Corrie Ten Boom endured, just hoping to survive each day, her confessions of selfishness admittedly seem small. However, her hidden selfishness was affecting her joy. Finally, Corrie had this epiphany:
The truth blazed like sunlight in the shadows of Barracks 28. The real sin I had been committing was not that of inching toward the center of a platoon because I was cold. The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me. Of course it was not my wholeness, but Christ’s that made the difference. (The Hiding Place, 35th Anniv. Ed., p. 225, emphasis added)
Once Corrie Ten Boom reminded herself that she had no power to help herself or transform her circumstances—that the power of Christ was all sufficient in her weakness—all of her joy returned. This Easter, let’s lay down our selfishness and tendency to depend on ourselves. Let’s freely embrace the complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ who willingly laid down his life for us so that we may have eternal life. Let’s walk in the complete joy and victory he freely gave for us!
Halleluiah! What a Savior!
-- Ashley Manfull © April 2019