Jan 15, 2009

The Road to Victory

A week ago tonight I pulled "The Hiding Place" off my housemate's shelf, took it over to Lizzie's, and made Annie watch it with me while we babysat Glorie. Annie had never seen the movie, and I hadn't seen it since I was in elementary school. I don't know about her, but the next day I arrived at work with puffy eyes.

When we'd finally turned the movie off that night - which is usually the moment when one can quiet one's emotion and get hold of any tears that had been pushing themselves forward - I sat next to Annie on the sofa and wept, utterly losing the control I'd fought for through the last few moments of the movie. The Lord had required of Corrie Ten Boom something stunning -- a soft heart in response to evil and terror and torture and loss. And she had been victorious.

"Victory" is the word we associate with winning visibly. When all the world (or all the Sunday night football fans) have seen the win, you'll be labeled victorious. It's a marching, blazing, flags snapping smartly in the wind sort of word. But when Corrie achieved it, it was a quiet, no-one-noticing, silently-leaving-the-dead-body-of-the-most-cherished-sister-behind sort of word. It was gained not by triumphing over the cruel Nazis, but by forgiving them. Not by destroying the killers, but by loving them. And it was so obscure.

Well, obscure in a sense. While all the angels were rejoicing and honoring God because of Betsey and Corrie's love, all the prisoners and guards and townspeople barely saw Corrie's insignificant form, and certainly few of them comprehended the spiritual battle that had taken place inside those camp fences, and the victory the Lord had won over Corrie's heart.

Is it usually like this? It is for me. The biggest things in my heart are the ones invisible to others, and sometimes I don't have the energy or inclination (or freedom) to explain them. It is a part of surrender, this state of having an internal life with God that only He and I know. And it is definitely a humbling process...to not explain or prove myself to those around me, to not have a victory that is as visible to them as it is to me.

I'm not trying to say here that I've had some sort of deep victory I can't tell you about :). No, I'm just pondering the amount of work God has to do in our hearts to get us ready to walk through the sort of thing Corrie did, and to come out victorious in the end. Annie and I read through her wikipedia article after the movie ended, and from the short paragraph on her "Religious Views" this sentence leaped off the computer screen at us:

"She was known for her rejection of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine. Her writings claim that it is without Biblical foundation, and she has claimed that the doctrine left the Christian Church ill-prepared in times of great persecution, such as in China under Mao Zedong. She appeared on many Christian television programs discussing her ordeal during the Holocaust, and the concepts of forgiveness and God's love."

Of course.

Of course a woman who had endured so much (including the death of almost her entire family) would see right through a new-fangled doctrine designed to keep Christians from believing they would ever suffer deeply. And of course she knew how dangerous such a belief is; when those believers do encounter real persecution and suffering, they are ill-prepared.

I know that when God's wrath is poured out on the wicked during the Great Tribulation, the believers will be severely persecuted. (But not any more so than our Lord was; we are certainly not above our Master.) But what is gently surprising and instructive, in both Christ's story and Corrie's, is the road to victory. That it lies in quietness, meekness, the laying down of life, in suffering silently, in loving to the end.

May we learn this now, Lord! May we not be of the foolish virgins, who do not obtain oil to last the night...for the night will likely be very, very long.


Jenny said...

Amy, thank you so much for posting this. I pulled out "The Hiding Place" book and read it about 2 years ago. It gripped me to the core. I bought every book of hers I could find. I wept and wept and wept. Lord was doing (and still is) something deep in my heart that I couldn't explain. I read it again 2 months ago. The Lord keeps saying to me, "Read it again. One more time. How about again?" I think it is an invitation into the heart of love, into the heart of our Father. I realize the depths of love needed to make it in whats coming, and how I am not there. It is both sobering and encouraging. If Corrie can make it, surely we can too. There is much hope and pain and sorrow, but I know it will be worth it. I know we will know the heart of the Father that much more. I think her book is a prophetic cry to the church right now. I keep telling everyone I know to read it! Bless you!

deannacs said...

your post comes at a time in when i've been thinking just how hard just "living" is sometimes, and why it is so hard. I guess anything worth having is worth fighting for-life, love, God...