Jim’s #12 and Ally’s #7: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Mark and Ron both had the Hiding Place in their top 10 from 2010 and when I saw that Christian Audio had it for free and we had a 4,000 mile road trip coming up, it seemed to make perfect sense to me.  Ally and I are so thrilled that we got to enjoy that book together.  There is so much to like, and I have a gut feeling that it will be going in my top 10 for 2011.

The story is of Corrie Ten Boom and her family in a small town in Holland where her father owns and runs a watch repair store.  They are a wonderful, Christian family whom you immediately fall in love with.  Their sympathies with strangers and love for life are simply incredible.

One of the characters in the story that we felt particularly drawn to was Corrie’s father.  He is a man who truly cares about the people who come through his door. his love for Jesus, and his love for watches more than the money his business produces.  He seems almost naive at times, forgetting to charge people for fixing their watches, considering it a privilege to “simply work on a magnificent piece like this”; but then you realize that he simply has his passions, motivations, and outlook in the right place (or on the right person).  One of the greatest conversations in the book was between Corrie and her father after Corrie heard someone in a train mention sex sins:

“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, ‘Father, what is sex sin?’

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the storage shelf and set it on the floor. ‘Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?’ he said. I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

‘It’s too heavy,’ I said.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.’”

What a brilliant way to approach this subject.  You can see why her father is so endearing.

The rest of her family was the same way.  Corrie paints them all as so blissfully enraptured in the love of God that they fail to see the rest of the world as it is.  While Corrie is the more business-minded, type-A person, her sister Betsie, who she had never been separated from, was the kind and caring mother for all of the Jews they ended up hiding in their house.  At one time, in the concentration camp, Betsie started naming things to be thankful for amid their toil and thanked God for the fleas that infested their entire barracks.  While it may seem silly, you should read on and see what amazing things God did through those fleas.

In the same way, Corrie’s sister Nollie had a faith in God that truly surpasses understanding.  In a time when a righteous lie can be understood when hiding Jews from near certain death or her sons from the Hitler youth, Nollie trusted that God would provide if she remained faithful to him.  When the Police came looking for her teenage boys, Nollie told the Police exactly where they were hidden, under the table.  Assuming she was lying, they left the family and moved on to the next house.  This book is full of stories like this of God’s absolute provision through some incredibly difficult times; proof of his sovereignty in trouble fills the pages of this book and gives hope to many.

I hope you will take the time to read this book.  I believe it will strengthen your faith and increase your understanding of who God is and how He is constantly at work.  If nothing else, you can read the book for the beauty of writing within.  Corrie has such a tangible yet surreal way of writing that brings every sentence to life.  It’s hard to believe that this is an autobiography considering how well it was written.  I hope someday, to read it again, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it just as much.

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