Today, I'm grateful for heroes.
Earlier this year I re-read The Hiding Place. Betsie Ten Boom is one of my heroes. It always amazes me to read about this middle aged spinster who was taken from her quiet life to radiate the love and victory of Christ in the midst of a Nazi concentration camp. It makes you wonder - how does someone with a very ordinary life develop that kind of amazing Christ-likeness? The kitchen just doesn't seem like a very good training ground for a hero.
The Hiding Place isn't primarily about Betsie, but it does give some intriguing glimpses into her life and how God transformed her into a woman who would pray for Nazis and give thanks for lice (even before she knew their purpose!).
First of all, we learn that Betsie suffered from a life long illness - Pernicious anemia. Among other trials, this prevented her from being able to have children, so Betsie decided not to get married. That's all that we are told, but I don't think we should take it lightly. I'm sure that had to be a huge decision in her life. There is no more natural and worthy desire in a woman's heart than to be married and have children, and yet we see Betsie give up these precious things and yet keep a heart free from bitterness and open to God's plan for her life.
We get another glimpse of her training as we see her willingly work in an uncomfortable job unsuited to her gifts. For some period of time, probably a number of years, Betsie worked as her Father's bookkeeper while her sister Corrie kept house. Then Betsie got the flu and Corrie took over the bookkeeping, and the family discovered that Corrie enjoyed the book work while Betsie longed to care for the house! Naturally they made the switch and both sisters were happy in the job for which they were suited. Being more of Betsie's bent myself, I can easily imagine the frustration and headaches her bookkeeping job may have caused her. Yet for years she performed her task so cheerfully that those dearest to her did not know she was giving up what she liked best.
We also see that she made her kitchen a place of service, both to her family and to others in need. In the care and creativity she brought to her housekeeping we see a hit of the skill and thought for others that would bring order and beauty into her prison cell. In the glimpses we get of her reaching out to others, we see the seeds of her later decision to help others, even at the cost of her own life.
I'm grateful for Betsie, and many other heroes whose lives encourage me to reach higher and surrender more, and I hope and pray that my time in the kitchen will be as fruitful a training ground as hers!