Infinite Distance

When we think of God’s holiness, the first thought that usually comes to mind is moral purity.  This is certainly an important aspect of it, as we shall see.  But when the seraphs called out, “Holy, holy, holy,” they meant something far more profound and fundamental.  The Hebrew word for holy is qadosh, which generally means, “cut off,” or “separate.”  When used of God, the word expresses the idea of separateness or “otherness.”  God is wholly “other” from all His creation, from angels, from men, and especially from sinful man.  He is absolutely distinct from all his creatures and is infinitely exalted above them in incomprehensible glory and majesty.  R. C. Sproul uses the word transcendence to describe this holiness:  “When we speak of the transcendence of God we are talking about that sense in which God is above and beyond us.  It tries to get at His supreme and altogether greatness…Transcendence describes God in His consuming majesty, His exalted loftiness.  It points to the infinite distance that separates Him from every creature…”  — Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, pg. 66-67

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Be Still and Listen

I never understand people that force having their way.  It’s always so much better to wait quietly, listen to God and trust in His way and timing.  Patience and kindness to others, especially when we disagree, is always best.

Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2).  The saint’s duty is to be still and listen.  There is a darkness that comes from too much light–that is the time to listen.  The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light.  When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait.  God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing.  Never try to help God fulfill His word.  Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all his self-sufficiency was destroyed.  He got past the point of relying on his own common sense.  Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure.  There’s never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him.  (see Isaiah 50:10-11)  — Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Special Gift

One Christmas my wife gave me a book I had wanted for a long time.  It was a rather obscure book on N. C. Wyeth.  When I discovered it (she had tried to hide it in the wardrobe) I was surprised and happy.  I didn’t hug the book, however, and give it a big sloppy kiss.  No, I dropped the book and embraced her, the one who had given such a special gift.  — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

Miraculous

A group from our church was visiting a rescue mission when something miraculous happened to me.  One of our group was spending time with an elderly man who bore all the classic signs of the street alcoholic.  The Lord spoke to me in a way I had never experienced.  As I watched our team member open himself up to this man, he disappeared and Christ became visible.  And as the alcoholic man received the lovingkindness of my friend, he too began to disappear, and take on the image of Christ, who was present in his pain and need.  — Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

No Miracle

Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!  Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”  — Matthew 27:39-40

If ever a moment demanded a miracle, it was this moment.  The crowds are clamoring and calling out for it.  So are the two thieves crucified on either side of Jesus.  Above all, it would seem that common sense demands it.  Now is the moment.  Now is the time to show them your miraculous power!  In the course of Jesus’ misunderstood life, this is the moment He is most misunderstood.  The crowd still clamors for miracles.  But He did not come to give them miracles; He came to give them Himself.  And on the cross He is doing precisely that.  The cross reveals to us that Jesus’ greatest miracle was His refusal at that moment to perform a miracle at all.  –Michael Card, Joy in the Journey

Overcoming

This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it from this fair garden…But if I climbed some great mountain and looked out…you know very well what I would see; brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the amphitheaters men murdered to please the applauding crowds…Yet in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people…they are despised and persecuted, but they care not.  They have overcome the world.  These people, Donatus, are Christians.  –St. Cyprian writing to his friend, Donatus, in the 3rd century

Ten Boom Watch Shop

We were not able to purchase tickets ahead of time to tour the Ten Boom “Hiding Place,” so arrived plenty early to stand in line.  It’s really surreal to find yourself standing right next to the shop.

Casper ten Boom taught his daughter, Corrie, the intricacies of watch repair.  She said:

Father eagerly took on the job of teaching me.  I eventually learned the moving and stationary parts, the chemistry of oils and solutions, tool and grindwhuel and magnifying techniques.  But Father’s patience, his almost mystic rapport with the harmonies of watchworks, these were not things that could be taught.  Wristwatches had become fashionable and I enrolled in a school that specialized in this kind of work.  Three years after Mama’s death, I became the first licensed woman watchmaker in Holland.  And so was established the pattern our lives were to follow for over twenty years.  When Father had put the Bible back on its shelf after breakfast, he and I would go down the stairs to the shop while Betsie stirred the soup pot…There was a constant procession through this little back room.  Sometimes it was a customer; most often it was simply a visitor–from a laborer with wooden klompen on his feet to a fleet owner–all bringing their problems to Father.  Quite unabashedly, in the sight of customers in the front room and the employees working with us, he would bow his head and pray for an answer.  He prayed over the work, too…I would hear him say:  “Lord, You turn the wheels of the galaxies.  You know what makes the planets spin and You know what makes this watch run…”  Through the years he took his stopped watches to “the One who set the atoms dancing,” or “who keeps the great currents circling through the sea.”  –Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 69-70

When Holland was invaded by the Nazis, the shop was busier than ever:

For five days Holland held out against the invader.  We kept the shop open, not because anyone was interested in watches, but because people wanted to see Father.  Some wanted him to pray for husbands and sons stationed at the borders of the country.  Others, it seemed to me, came just to see him sitting there behind his workbench as he had for sixty years and to hear in the ticking clocks a world of order and reason.  –Ibid, pg. 80

In this group of photos in the house you can see Casper ten Boom, beloved father of Corrie, Betsie, Nollie and Willem (their mother, Cornelia, had passed away in 1921).  He was a devout and generous Christian who opened his heart and home to all who passed his way.  They took in dozens of foster children through the years.  In addition, Willem, Casper’s father, had started a weekly prayer group here in 1844 to pray for Jews and for the peace of Jerusalem; this prayer group continues to this day.  100 years later their home would become a hiding place for Jews.  When the Nazis began requiring all Jews to wear the yellow Star of David, Casper voluntarily wore one, too.  Corrie held worship services for disabled children for twenty years.  They strongly believed that all people were equal before God.

It was not long for the home to become a place of refuge for Jews during the holocaust; in fact, over 800 people came through this home, as a way station to other points, and for others it was a long-term home of refuge.  The small “Alpina” advertisement sign was placed in the widow to tell underground workers when it was safe to enter.

Here we were, about to enter the same door in the alleyway.  Amazing.

Corrie described what it was like in those early days of occupation:

The true horror of occupation came over us only slowly.  During the first year of German rule, there were only minor attacks on Jews in Holland.  A rock through the window of a Jewish-owned store.  An ugly word scrawled on the wall of a synagogue.  It was as though they were trying us, testing the temper of the country.  How many Dutchmen would go along with them?  And the answer, to our shame, was many…One day as Father and I were returning from our walk we found the Grote Markt cordoned off by a double ring of police and soldiers.  A truck was parked in front of the fish mart; into the back were climbing men, women, and children, all wearing the yellow star.  There was no reason we could see why this particular place at this particular time had been chosen.  “Father!  Those poor people!”  I cried.  The police line opened, the truck moved through.  We watched till it turned the corner.  “Those poor people,” Father echoed.  But to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the soldiers now forming into ranks to march away.  “I pity the poor Germans, Corrie.  They have touched the apple of God’s eye.”  We talked often, Father, Betsie, and I, about what we could do if a chance should come to help some of our Jewish friends.  –Ibid, pg. 84-85