Listen

Here are the final quotes from my notebooks this week; these are from 2010:

Learn to listen to all people.  Today, most people, including some leaders, listen only to others on their level of leadership — peers, relatives, friends — and neglect little ones and the poor.  Let us learn to humbly listen to all people, irrespective of their categories in life, because God can use them…As a result of listening to two lower voices, Naaman was healed of leprosy (2 Kings 5).  Let us remember that the dignity of the poor and needy is one of our core values.  God may even use these little ones to address our situations.  — Samuel Rugambage, Compassion International Country Director, Rwanda, One in Spirit, pg. 153

I trusted in thee in an hour of distress, and thou didst not fail me, though faith trembled.  — Valley of Vision: a Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, compiled by Arthur Bennet, pg. 136

The following quotes began on the day my dad took a bad fall, and the following days as I helped care for him.  I was missing work, as he lived several hours away, but these verses confirmed to my heart that it was the right decision to go, and that I needed to listen to his needs, not mine:

When we interrupt what someone is saying to let them know that we understand, we move the focus of attention to ourselves.  When we listen, they know we care…A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well intentioned words.  — Rachel Remen, Table Wisdom, pg. 144

Expertise cures, but wounded people can best be healed by other wounded people.  Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise.  — Ibid, pg. 217

It is those who have offered drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, a home to the stranger, clothing to the naked, or a visit to the sick or imprisoned who will be put on His right side and earn the title of “sheep.”  Their reward is the kingdom, prepared for them since the creation of the world — not for the degree of knowledge they acquired, not for their Sunday church attendance, but for having responded to the needs of the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick and imprisoned.  — Maria Reyes, Compassion International Communications Manager, Bolivia, One in Spirit, pg. 213

I had always worked hard at being good enough; it was the golden standard by which I decided what to read, what to wear, how to spend time, where to live, and even what to say.  Even “good enough” was not really good enough for me.  I had spent a lifetime trying to make myself perfect…[But instead] What was needed was simply to be human.  I was human.  All my life I had feared being found out…Whatever the expertise we have acquired, the greatest gift we bring to anyone who is suffering is our wholeness.  Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing.  It is often through the quality of our listening, and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us.  When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness.  Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person.  That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and by others.  That which is hidden.  In this culture the soul and the heart too often go homeless.  Listening creates a holy silence.  When you listen generously to people, they can hear truth in themselves, often for the first time.  — Rachel Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom, pg. 219-220

 

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Wrong Question

Here are more quotes from my older notebooks (if you click on the image below, or can zoom in, you may be able to see some of the actual quotes in my notebooks):

I stood at the door of the New Year and I said, “Give me a light that I might see my way safely into the unknown.”  But a voice came to me and said, “Instead, step into the darkness and take the hand of God — for it will be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”  — Source Unknown, quoted by Evelyn Husband, High Calling, pg. 205

“Rabbi, who sinned:  this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”  Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question.  You’re looking for someone to blame.  There is no such cause-effect here.  Look instead for what God can do.”  — John 9:2-3  (At the time, in 2005 when I recorded this verse, a friend was trying to figure out why I was dealing with neck pain.  If I did something “right,” she implied, the pain would go away.  With this verse, God encouraged and assured me — that was the the wrong perspective on the situation).

Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  — Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)

The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake is confirmed by my sleeping heart.  Psalm 16:7 (MSG)

[A Christian] knows that God’s Word in Jesus Christ pronounces him guilty, even when he does not feel his guilt, and God’s Word pronounces him righteous, even when he does not feel that he is righteous at all.  — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Devotional Classics, pg. 294

You must realize that God allows people to stumble, so they will despair of trusting in themselves.  God is the one who stamps out inborn arrogance.  — Martin Luther, By Faith Alone

Nature is God’s first missionary.  Where there is no Bible there are sparkling stars.  Where there are no preachers, there are springtimes…If a person has nothing but nature, then nature is enough to reveal something about God.  — Max Lucado, Grace for the Moment

 

 

Timely Quotes

Perhaps I should explain where all these quotes are coming from.  Since 1990 I’ve been keeping small pocket calendars that I write special quotes in from scripture, books, newspapers, movies, even Facebook, etc.  — anything that speaks in a special way to me, and to what my circumstances are at the time.  I’ve never tried to line up the quote with the date; I like the size of the pocket calendars, and just write from page to page, ignoring dates and days of the week.  If I want to remember the occasion, I’ll write the date beside the quote.

I can always pick up these calendars free from various businesses.  They have no idea what treasures they have become to me!

Some days I’ll write nothing and other days I may write 5-6 quotes and record a difficulty I’m dealing with at the time.  Some years I end up using 3-4 pocket calendars (such as in each of the years when my parents passed away).  These little booklets are my life because they are the specific scriptures and quotes God is giving me, especially during trials and difficulties.  He always gives me exactly what I need, every day.  I have no idea why He blesses me in this way; I’m not deserving, but these timely truths firmly bring me through those difficulties.

This summer, while walking each day, I began grabbing one of the notebooks each day to re-read as I walked along.  It’s easy to read one quote, then walk a bit and think about it before reading another, or read several at a time.  What amazed me was the fact that I was experiencing similar, difficult situations through the years, and God was giving me the exact same quotes each time.  The quotes came from the particular page of a book I was reading, or the particular assigned scripture of the day, so they weren’t quotes I was “looking” for.  God’s timing is perfect.  This week I’m sharing more of these quotes, as I know they could be just what you need to hear today, too.

Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.  Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.  The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.  — Matthew 6:5-6 (MSG)

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let Me lead.  You’re not in the driver’s seat, I am.  Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.  Follow Me and I’ll show you how.  — Matthew 16:24-25 (MSG)

Let your heart be at rest.  You may enjoy a deep, settled peace that no disturbance can destroy.  It is maintained by your confidence in My love.  Place in My care both yourself and all you hold dear…Release all anxiety.  I am watching over you.  — (Given to me the day one of our children travelled to New Zealand for a 6-month study program), Progress of Another Pilgrim, pg. 108

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.  — Isaiah 54:17

What should set us apart is our trust, our ability to let God loose in our circumstances rather than forever trying to control them ourselves.  — Barbara Johnson, Promises of Joy, pg. 44

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  — Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.  — Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

 

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

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

Haarlem

While in Amsterdam in 2015 Chris and I were eager to see Corrie ten Boom’s world in Haarlem.  It was a short train ride and we took our rented bikes with us.  It truly was amazing day, seeing this area and reliving the emotions I felt went I first read her book, The Hiding Place, years ago.  Her family helped many Jewish and Dutch underground people escape from the holocaust through an elaborate system of messengers, a hidden space, alarms and underground support for ration cards, relay stations and other supplies.  It’s truly remarkable.  Corrie often said, “You can’t love Jesus without loving the Jewish people.”

Here are some of the photos we took on our bike ride to the ten Boom watch shop.

This bakery was fantastic!  We stopped here after spending the morning at the ten Boom house.

This is the Grote Markt, which is very close to the ten Boom house and watch shop.

While Holland was being invaded by the Nazis, Corrie had a dream that was, sadly, fulfilled in real life later.  This is how she described the moment, which happened with her sister, Betsie, nearby:

Betsie began to pray for the Germans, up there in the planes, caught in the fist of the giant evil loose in Germany.  I looked at my sister kneeling beside me in the light of burning Holland.  “Oh Lord,” I whispered, “listen to Betsie, not me, because I cannot pray for those men at all.”

And it was then that I had the dream.  It couldn’t have been a real dream because I was not asleep.  But a scene was suddenly and unreasonably in my mind.  I saw the Grote Markt, half a block away, as clearly as though I were standing there, saw the town hall and St. Bavo’s and the fish mart with its stair-stepped facade.

Then as I watched, a kind of odd, old farm wagon–old fashioned and out of place in the middle of a city–came lumbering across the square pulled by four enormous black horses.  To my surprise I saw that I myself was sitting in the wagon.  And Father too!  And Betsie!  There were may others, some strangers, some friends.  I recognized Pickwick and Toos, Willem and young Peter.  All together we were slowly being drawn across the square behind those horses.  We couldn’t get off the wagon, that was the terrible thing.  It was taking us away–far away, I felt–but we didn’t want to go…

“Betsie!” I cried, jumping up, pressing my hands to my eyes.  “Betsie, I’ve had such an awful dream!”

I felt her arm around my shoulder.  “We’ll go down to the kitchen where the light won’t show, and we’ll make a pot of coffee.”

The booming of the bombs was less frequent and farther away as Betsie put on the water.  Closer by was the wail of fire alarms and the beep of the hose trucks.  Over coffee, standing at the stove, I told Betsie what I had seen.

“Am I imagining things because I’m frightened?  But it wasn’t like that!  It was real.  Oh Betsie, was it a kind of vision?”

Betsie’s finger traced a pattern on the wooden sink worn smooth by generations of us ten Booms.  “I don’t know,” she said softly.  “But if God has shown us bad times ahead, it’s enough for me that He knows about them.  That’s why He sometimes shows us things, you know–to tell us that this too is in His hands.”  –Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, pg. 79-80