The strongest force in the world (or CTB lesson #2)

Renee Ann Smith —  March 26, 2011 — 28 Comments

She considered her face and form ordinary, especially when compared to her prettier sisters, and found herself tongue-tied in the presence of eligible boys. Yet Corrie ten Boom did meet one young man who saw her for who she was inside. Unfortunately, circumstances and family demands would conspire to thwart her plans for a happy future . . .

Not familiar with Corrie’s story? Born in Holland in 1892, she was 48 when the Nazi’s invaded in 1940. Corrie, her older sister, and elderly father risked their lives to take in Jewish refugees and hide them in a tiny room at the top of their house. Their story was recorded in a book called The Hiding Place and recreated in a movie of the same name.

From the time she was a little girl, Corrie’s godly parents and loving, happy family influenced the woman she would become. The lessons she learned from them have touched my heart and helped me grow. So I’d like to share them with you here . . .

As a teen, Corrie met her brother Willem’s friend Karel, then a handsome, friendly college student. Years later when she was twenty-one, Karel came for a visit and spent many hours walking and talking with Corrie. For the first time she shared her heart and dared to dream of a future as a wife and mother. Then Willem broke the news that Karel’s family had insisted he marry a girl of wealth and noble birth, and Karel planned to comply.

Nollie, Corrie, Betsie and Willem

Though Karel returned home, he wrote to Corrie, asking for news of her life and claiming that the Ten Boom house was the happiest home in Holland. Corrie refused to believe that Karel would give in to his family’s demands–until the day he showed up at her house to introduce his fiancee. Corrie made it through dinner but later that night retreated to her room to relieve her broken heart . . .

“How long I [Corrie] lay on my bed sobbing for the one love of my life I do not know. Later, I heard Father’s footsteps coming up the stairs. For a moment I was a little girl again, waiting for him to tuck the blankets tight. But this was a hurt that no blanket could shut out, and suddenly I was afraid of what Father would say. Afraid he would say, ‘There’ll be someone else soon,’ and that forever afterward this untruth would lie between us. For in some deep part of me I knew already that there would not—soon or ever—be anyone else.

The sweet cigar-smell came into the room with Father. And of course he did not say the false, idle words.

‘Corrie,’ he began instead, ‘do you know what hurts so very much? It’s love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain.’

‘There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel.’

‘God loves Karel—even more than you do—and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy.’

I was still in kindergarten in these matters of love. My task just then was to give up my feeling for Karel without giving up the joy and wonder that had grown with it. And so, they very hour, lying there on my bed, I whispered the enormous prayer:

‘Lord, I give to you the way I feel about Karel, my thoughts about our future—oh, You know! Everything! Give me Your way of seeing Karel instead. Help me to love him that way. That much.’”

Here’s a summary of Lesson Two, in Corrie’s words:

“I did not know, as I listened to Father’s footsteps winding back down the stairs, that he had given me more than the key to this hard moment. I did not know that he had put into my hands the secret that would open far darker rooms than this—places where there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all. The Secret? That when we could not love in the old human way, God would give us the perfect way to love.”

Soak in this profound truth as you go about your day today! Many blessings, friends!

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

28 responses to The strongest force in the world (or CTB lesson #2)

  1. What a beautiful post this was. It refreshed my heart so much tonight. Thank you for sharing!

  2. such hard and painful lessons…
    thank you for this extra glimpse into a woman i’ve admired for many many yrs~
    good to hear and know this personal insight…

    bk giveaway posted at FHC ~ if you have a minute to visit, chat or tweet “)
    blessings, Renee!

  3. Oh, I love this. I think I need to find this book and read it. I have always loved reading stories and person accounts from this time. These people were so amazing.

  4. I first read this book when I was young. I’ve picked it up many times since then. My daughter read it last year. I don’t recall ever seeing the picture of her family though. One theme that runs through her story is forgiveness.

    • Yes, teaching how God can help us forgive by giving that supernatural love for others is the focus of her life after the war. I’m reading this book right now with some of my students. Each time it makes me cry! Thanks for stopping by, Pamela!

  5. Thank-you for this. There were some amazing women way back then, and now too but in a different way.
    God Bless,

  6. I’ve traveled most of Spiritual Sunday, last night and this morning. I must tell you that although the others were profound or encouraging, your post touched me the strongest today. Thank you.

  7. I read Corrie’s story years ago. I can not believe its been 35 plus years since she her book was first published. Wow. That makes me feel old. We can learn a lot from women like her. I just re-read Mother Theresa’s Simple Path. Have a wonderful Spiritual Sunday!!!

  8. This is a powerful message and a truly great story that I’d love to read. It is so hard to redirect the focus of love, but it when we do, it leads us to a great opening in our faith experience.

  9. Few books have challenged me the the way this one did! Thank you for reminding me of some of the wisdom contained in it! BTW I just finished my book…the one I was trying to finish in February. 🙂

  10. Deeper insights into Corrie TenBoom than I knew from her book, “The Hiding Place.” Simply lovely.
    Thank you for your visit.


  11. Wow, what an inspiring post. Corrie’s story has inspired countless millions in the past several years. I saw the movie years ago. Thank you for sharing this review with us.

  12. It was so brave and kind of Corrie and her family to help the Jews hide from the Nazis. They are a family which should be emulated and looked up to by example. They are very inspiring.

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