Monday, April 14, 2008

Corrie Ten Boom On Selfishness

Corrie Ten Boom found repentance of selfishness in a time when most would consider even the smallest bit of it justifiable. She found it one winter while withstanding the harshness of the concentration camp Ravensbruck. Here is an excerpt from the audio book as she puts it.

"And as the cold increased, so did the special temptation of concentration camp life. The temptation to think of only one's self. It took a thousand cunning forms. I quickly discovered that when I maneuvered our way toward the middle of the formation, we had a little protection from the wind. I knew this was self-centered. When Betsy and I stood in the center, someone else had to stand on the edge. How easy it was to give it other names.

'I was acting only for Betsy's sake.' 'We were in an important ministry and must keep well.' 'It was colder in Poland than in Holland. These Polish women probably were not feeling the chill the way we were.'

Selfishness had a life of it's own. As I watched Mein's bag of yeast compound disappear, I began taking it from beneath the straw (bedding) only after lights out when others would not see and ask for some. Wasn't Betsy's health more important? 'You see God she can do so much more for them. Remember that house after the war?' And even if it wasn't right, it wasn't so very wrong was it? Not wrong like sadism and murder and the other monstrous evils we saw in Ravensbruck every day. Oh this was the great ploy of Satan in that kingdom of his. To display such blatant evil, that one could almost believe one's own secret sins didn't matter.

The cancer spread. The second week in December every occupant of barracks 28 was issued an extra blanket. The next day a large group of evacuees arrived from Czechoslovakia. One of them asigned to our platform had no blanket at all and Betsy insisted that we give her one of ours. So that evening I lent her a blanket, but I didn't give it to her. In my heart I held on to the right to that blanket. Was it coincidence that joy and power imperceptibly drained from my ministy? My prayers took on a mechanical ring. Even bible reading was dull and lifeless. Betsy tried to take over for me, but her cough made reading aloud impossible.

And so I struggled on with worship and teaching that had ceased to be real. Until one drizzly raw afternoon, when just enough light came through the window to read by, I came to Paul's account of his thorn in the flesh. Three times, he said, he had begged God to take away his weakness, whatever it was, and each time God had said, 'Rely on me.' At last Paul concluded, the words seemed to leap from the page, that his very weakness was something to give thanks for. Because now, Paul knew that none of the wonders and miracles which followed his ministry, could be due to his own virtues; it was all Christ's strength, never Paul's.

And there it was. The truth blazed like sunlight in barrack's 28. The real sin I had been commiting, was not that of inching towards the center of a platoon because I as 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 short winter day was fading. I could no longer seperate the words on the page. And so I closed the Bible and to that group of women clustering close, I told the truth about myself. My self-centeredness, my stinginess, my lack of love. That night, real joy returned to my worship."


Dutchess said...

WOW! What an amazing woman she was. I just love her stories...even though they are usually quite hard to read.

Anonymous said...

We used to have a record of Corrie ten Boom taling. Its been so long since I heard it, I'd almost forgotten about it. She was an incredible person.

Morgan said...

Thank you so much for this blog post! I read it when I very much needed it, and I truly get so much out of Corrie Ten Boom's testimonies. Her life was so real and therefore her testimony to God's faithfulness all the more special and helpful for me. Thanks again!