By: Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan
“I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.” ~Psalm 119:112
“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do His work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve Him.” ~1 Timothy 1:12
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As Wholehearted Women, we have been called to represent Christ in spreading the Gospel and to be His hands and feet in the specific mission He’s given us. The tricky bit is to remain strong in the Lord when circumstances and persecutions seek to distract us from our mission. As we reflect on the history of Wholehearted Woman Ministries from last week, we will share stories from several heroes of the faith who incline their hearts after God’s Word, grow in their knowledge of God, and delight to do His will. One of the most impactful Wholehearted Women we know of is Corrie Ten Boom, who endured much suffering for Christ and boldly shared her faith in one of the darkness places.
A Divine Guard
“Behind us guards were shouting, prodding us with their guns. Instinctively my hand went to the string around my neck. From it, hanging down my back between my shoulder blades, was the small cloth bag that held our Bible, that forbidden Book which had not only sustained Betsie and me throughout these months, but given us strength to share with our fellow prisoners. So far we had kept it hidden…” (Tramp for the Lord, p. 13)
So begins chapter one of Corrie Ten Boom’s book, Tramp for the Lord. You may be more familiar with her book The Hiding Place. She provides one of the most precious examples to me of a woman with her heart inclined fully toward the Word of God in all circumstances. Corrie was a Dutch woman who, along with the rest of her family, hid Jews in their home who were at risk of being arrested and sent to concentration camps during World War II. Her family was discovered, however, and they, too, were arrested and imprisoned. While in a Dutch prison, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were able to smuggle in a small Bible with them. But soon they would be transported to one of the most horrific concentration camps in Germany at that time: Ravensbruck.
“’Ravensbruck!’ Like a whispered curse, the word passed back through the line. This was the notorious women’s death camp itself, the very symbol to Dutch hearts of all that was evil. As we stumbled down the hill, I felt the little Bible bumping on my back. As long as we had that, I thought, we could face even hell itself.” (p. 14-15)
Upon arrival at Ravensbruck, all female prisoners had to go through a long and harrowing prison inspection. By the faithful hand of God, Corrie’s little Bible made it through the ordeal, unseen and untouched by the guards. She writes of the experience, “So Betsie and I came to our barracks at Ravensbruck. Before long we were holding clandestine Bible study groups for an ever-growing group of believers, and Barracks 28 became known throughout the camp as ‘the crazy place, where they hope.’ Yes, hoped, in spite of all that human madness could do. We had learned that a stronger power had the final word, even here.” (p. 16)
This story poignantly demonstrates how a love of the Bible is foundational to our Christian faith. Although we may never have need to smuggle a Bible into a concentration camp, we, too, can be wholehearted women of God like Corrie Ten Boom and her sister, inclining our hearts toward God’s Word in all that we do.
In her book, Tramp for the Lord, Corrie shared about about a frail woman who lived near the Baltic Sea during the height of the oppressive Soviet Union. She lived in a one-room apartment with her husband. A visitor described her as an elderly woman “lying on a small sofa, propped up by pillows. Her body was bent and twisted almost beyond recognition by the dread disease of multiple sclerosis. Her aged husband spent all his time caring for her since she was unable to move off the sofa.”
Corrie Ten Boom recounts her mid-1900s visit to this sister in Christ:
“I walked across the room and kissed her wrinkled cheek…She raised her right hand, slowly, in jerks. It was the only part of her body she could control, and with her gnarled and deformed knuckles she caressed my face. I reached over and kissed the index finger of that hand, for it was with this one finger that she had so long glorified God. Beside her was a vintage typewriter. Each morning her faithful husband would rise, praising the Lord. After caring for his wife’s needs and feeding her a simple breakfast, he would prop her into a sitting position on the couch, placing pillows all around her so she wouldn’t topple over. Then he would move that ancient black typewriter in front of her on a small table. From an old cupboard he would remove a stack of cheap yellow paper. Then, with that one blessed finger, she would begin to type…” (One Finger for His Glory)
You see, this dear sister in Christ not only lived in dictatorial Soviet Russia as an acute sufferer of multiple sclerosis, but she also knew several languages. With her one finger of which she still had muscle control, she secretly and painstakingly translated Bible passages and Christian books into Russian and languages of the Baltic Sea region hour after hour, each and every day, one key stroke at a time.
Her husband explained to Corrie during her visit, “Every other Christian in the city is watched by the secret police. But because she has been sick so long, no one ever looks in on her. They leave us alone, and she is the only person in all the city who can type quietly, undetected by the police.” (You can read the rest of this story and others like it in Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom.)
This beautiful, wholehearted woman was driven by her love of God’s Word and desire to share in His mission with every key stroke. She knew she was not only called by God, but strengthened mightily by Him! When we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him, we, too, can learn to live our lives as worship unto God and to respond to specific things He has called us to do no matter our circumstances. John 17 tells us that Jesus brought glory to the Father by fulfilling God’s purpose and calling for Him. In verses 1, 4-5, Jesus prayed “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so He can give glory back to You. I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. Now, Father, bring Me into the glory we shared before the world began.”
Incline Your Heart
What work has God given you to accomplish for His glory? Have you made a love of His Word central to your faith walk? What is His calling on your life and even in this specific season? As Christians, we are all given the purpose to love the Lord with all our hearts and to love others, but He also gives us specific callings. (See Philippians 1:11-14.) This can be a certain vocation; a family role of wife, mother or daughter; a spiritual gift that allows you to serve others; or perhaps a passionate interest that connects you with people in order to show them God’s love. All these things are unique and specific to God’s individual purpose for His children’s lives.
No matter what our seasons of life or challenges we may face, we can live intentionally and with purpose as wholehearted women of God. Incline your heart towards God’s Word today and ask Him to help you have the strength to do His work. Like Corrie Ten Boom and the woman who covertly typed Bible translations in Soviet Russia, what is He calling you to right where you are at? He will show you and will help you to live your whole life as worship to Him!
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