The Most Inspiring Book You’ve Ever Read
I would say that one of the most inspiring books I’ve read is The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. I’m pretty sure that I’ve written about the book in the past either here on my own blog or elsewhere. Corrie lived in Holland during the war. Her family started taking in Jews who would stay in their house and when the police came they would hide. Unfortunately someone dropped them in it and Corrie and her family were taken first to a prison at Scheveningen. Three of Corrie’s family members were released but Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to the Vught concentration camp in Holland and then on to Ravensbruck Concentration camp in Germany. Ian wrote about visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp, he says “So my choice is not worst in that sense, but for reasons that I hope are obvious from the name alone.” He’s right you hear Auschwitz, Ravensbruck or Treblinka and you think of the atrocities that happened at those places. I think it’s one of those places that no matter how much you read about it, it won’t prepare you for seeing the “left behind” bits.
The whole story really struck a chord with me – I watched Schindler’s List when I was doing GCSE History and I cried part way through, anyway back to the story so although the whole story struck a chord with me the part of the story that always comes back to me is when Corrie and Betsie arrived at Ravenbruck. They’d somehow managed to smuggle a bible in through the “induction” and managed to hide it until they could go back for it later. (If you see the film of The Hiding Place a lady in the queue freaks out and so the guards are distracted while Betsie or Corrie sneak through that particular check)
Corrie, Betsie and hundreds of other women were squashed into barracks that were damp, overcrowded and smelly.
Corrie recounts when they arrived in their barrack – they had been reading 1 Thessalonians in the NT and were looking at what they had.
Betsie said, “We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks”.
I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul aired room. “Such as?” I said.
“Such as being assigned here together”.
I bit my lip, “Oh Yes, Lord Jesus!”
“Such as what you’re holding in your hands”
I looked down at the Bible. “Yes! Thank you, dear lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank you for all women here in this room who will meet you in these pages.”
“Yes” said Betsie “Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear.” She looked at me expectantly “Corrie!” she prodded
“Oh, all right. Thank you for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.”
“Thank you” Betsie went on serenely, “for the fleas and for -”
The FLEAS! This was too much. “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”
“Give thanks in all circumstances,” she quoted. “It doesn’t say in pleasant circumstances. Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”
And so we stood between piers to bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.
We’re so quick to complain about what we have, how it’s not good enough because it’s not new and shiny or because it’s the old model not the new model – and I know I am guilty of this too but imagine it for a second, you are taken away from your home in the clothes you stand up in, you don’t know where you’re going and if you’ll make it home again – you also don’t know who you are going to be with and where your family are. There were millions of other people involved in the Holocaust – the three stories I’ve heard lots of are Corrie and her family, Anne Frank and Schindler’s List.
I think the main reason that The Hiding Place inspires me is because although Corrie and her sister when to hell and back they never stopped focusing on God which is amazing – too much of the time we only turn to God when we need something or in the bad times – when the times are good we can get distracted and turn away.