Friday, July 20, 2012

Faithful Friday - "Forgiving or Losing?"

As I was pondering this week about Faithful Friday, a song came on K-Love that I love. It’s by Tenth Avenue North. It’s called Losing. It’s a song about forgiving. And we all know forgiving isn’t easy especially when we’ve been deeply hurt by someone.

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As I really listened to the lyrics of the song, it tells of the hurt we feel by others and how if we choose to not forgive them, we’re actually the one that is losing. Did you know most of the time, that person is not even really affected by it? There’s freedom in letting go and forgiving. True forgiveness can only come through Christ too. He is the master of forgiveness. After all, that’s what he does for us as his children every time we ask. I’ll play that song for you at the end of this post, but before I do, I want to share a story from Corrie Ten Boom.

Most of you probably know who she was, but if you don’t, she was was a Dutch Christian, who with her father and other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. Her family was arrested due to an informant in 1944, and her father died 10 days later at Scheveningen prison. A sister, brother and nephew were released, but Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where Betsie died. The movie, The Hiding Place, is based on her story. This movie shows the horror of life in the concentration camp and of their mistreatment there where her sister died.

 So this story that I’m about to share took place years later as Corrie Ten Boom traveled abroad telling her story. It’s a picture of true forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness that God gives and the kind he provides for us.

Corrie Ten Boom Story on Forgiving

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him—a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken, moving along the rows of wooden chairs to the door at the rear. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives.

“It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. …’

“The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. There were never questions after a talk in Germany in 1947. People stood up in silence, in silence collected their wraps, in silence left the room.

“And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were!

Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland; this man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.

“Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fräulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

“And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?

“But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

“ ‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ he was saying, ‘I was a guard there.’ No, he did not remember me. “ ‘But since that time,’ he went on, ‘I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fräulein,’ again the hand came out—’will you forgive me?’

“And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place—could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?

“It could not have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.

“For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.’

“I knew it not only as a commandment of God, but as a daily experience. Since the end of the war I had had a home in Holland for victims of Nazi brutality. Those who were able to forgive their former enemies were able also to return to the outside world and rebuild their lives, no matter what the physical scars. Those who nursed their bitterness remained invalids. It was as simple and as horrible as that.

“And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘… Help!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

“And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.

“ I forgive you, brother!” I cried. ‘With all my heart!’ “For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then”.

  (Excerpt from Guideposts)

 Well let me just say that I know I couldn’t forgive something like that on my own. The ability to forgive such an act would have to come through Christ because I don’t have it within me. But as Corrie said, if we make the choice to forgive, God will provide the feeling.

Isn’t that a beautiful picture of forgiveness?

Now for that song, Losing, by Tenth Avenue North. I know I've said it many times, but oh how music speaks to my heart. I hope it blesses you as much as it does me.


Thank you so much for stopping by today! Do you have something God's done for you, a story you'd like to share, or even a prayer request? If so, why don't you come join us for Faithful Friday?  You can find the Faithful Friday button code on the button page at the top of my blog or you may find it on Joy's blog. Joy started Faithful Fridays as a way for Christians to encouragement one another by sharing their Christian Walk. You can link up on Joy's blog, Doodlebug. That way, we can come visit you too!


Have a great weekend! :)


Joy ~ Doodlebug ~ said...


LOVE that story. So powerful. And you know I love that song, too. :)

Love you! 8! Thanks for participating!

Joy :)

arkie said...

The Hiding Place is a favorite book of mine. I have not had near what she had to forgive in my whole life. I have had to forgive some hard things (to me!) in my life. Wish I could forget like God does, but my human mind still remembers. This requires me to forgive again and again. It is possible to forgive, after all, look at what Christ forgave for us all!

Thanks for this post!

Shelley said...

I've read the book,and I shall read it again...beautiful and amazing thoughts,such grace...thanks so much for sharing..blessings

Paula said...

That is an AMAZING story, Tammy... I have read a couple of Corrie Ten Boom's books and they are wonderful.
Thanks for sharing this today!