~Our Hiding Place~
Once upon a time… no wait, that’s not how today’s post is suppose to go at all. That’s all wrong; well, maybe not “all” wrong. Still, I’m thinking that if anyone ever starts out life with that sort of beginning, the rest of the story is like one Mr. Toad Wild Ride after another. If you don’t know what that means, and you care to know, you will just have to Google it.
Would you not agree with me that life’s experiences are not fairy tales? Not a one, not even for real to life princesses, as we all to well truly know. Life, is life. The sooner we allow children to experience bits and pieces of that reality, the better citizens they will make.
What has prompted all this impossible “Once Upon Time” thinking? Today as I ran some errands. I popped into a store while I was out and literally saw two young ladies try to steal a pair of shoes. One professed to the other to quickly please, please get the key to the ladies room or I’m going to throw up on the floor “homey”. I don’t know if I spelled that right, hopefully you get it right, because that’s what she said. Here I was just marveling a sale item and lo and behold as the friend comes back to the ladies room with said “key”, the “homey” says, “Do you need me to come in and help?” If you want. What I witnessed though was a pair of pink heels sledding in with them tucked under the girls bag.
Now I have to share that working at Publix has most definitely prepared for these sort of moments. I saw a store clerk and pointed out that the girls quite possibly were going to shoplift. Now, if you aren’t aware of the plan, we in retail don’t really want anyone to steal. The goal is never to let them do it and catch them outside the door. The goal is to get them “not to steal”. Into operation the two clerks went. They did a great job too! How do I know, they called me over and said, “Are these the shoes? Because the taller one just set them down here.” Yep, they sure were. Another caper foiled! I felt good at doing my part, and I don’t even work at this place. It just felt good to stop someone from doing a very stupid, life changing thing. It felt good to stop these young girls, who quite seriously, if it’s pink stilettos they need, they truly need to get a job. I’m pretty sure that is not something they are pondering. I doubt they are even thinking upon the fact that someone just saved their lives. Most likely they were out the door cussing their unthefting selves silly. Okay, so let me reword that. They went out the door cussing the clerks. That’s more likely how they left.
I don’t think they particularly had a clue I played a roll in the de-leo at all. Me? I’m just on the sidelines cheering everyone on. I don’t want them to steal for the good of themselves, and for the retailer. It’s all bad no matter how it all goes down, if they walk out the door with those items. It’s a no-win for all. The retailer, the police, the parents, the thieving girls. It’s all bad, and no good can come from the goods that they take.
What, in the name of “once upon a time” you are saying does any of this have to do with “once upon a time”? Each of us starts out with the abilities, the chances to make the best of what we are given. For some of us, life stinks; and I mean really stinks. We not only didn’t get the short end of the stick, what the heck, some us didn’t get a let alone a stick, or even a twig. We got zippity-nadda-nothing! Others of us started life out as if, well, as if life was some sort of beautiful wall plaque. Life is sweet, life is grand, life is abundant, and life is grand. Although, as we grew we may have, or may not have, first handed anyway, bore witness to the fact that life isn’t always as some say, smiles and sunshine. Life is anything but! No matter what crossroads you come to, at what-have you age, at some point the fairy tale abruptly hits a pothole. A lousy, can’t we keep the streets pretty and paved, not so nice big old whole in the plans of life pothole.
I’m thinking we can all agree on that. Life is like… oh skippy, life is sometimes what you make it, and sometimes what you make it, doesn’t work either. Somebody or something comes along and foils the plan. Like me today. Those girls don’t know that I saved them from going to jail. The retail clerk told me their last shoplifter was pregnant. Yes, pregnant! She stuffed all she could under her big old winter coat after being in the dressing room and tried her best (worst) to walk out with it. I wasn’t there that time to save her, but had I been I’d a tried. No, really, I would have. It’s sad to see people making these choices. It’s sad to see that some people will, no matter what, take an avenue that they think is for something good, and find out that although the people don’t want this to happen, some folks go on and do the wrong thing any way.
So my point here today is we each make choices. We each daily should be in the business of making people our business. I know some people are so desperate they’ll steal food, steal money, steal who knows what. I also know that there are people who will steal stilettos, and that’s just something I can’t wrap my head around at all. I’m praying for those two girls this afternoon. Nope, no clue what their names are. I just know that in this moment of time *GOD* had me in a a specific place and time for a reason. I’m praying that, maybe, just maybe another CHRISTian will come along and maybe wake-up these girls. What? You think that’s impossible. Shame on you! Shame on you for not believing that *GOD*-incidental moments occur all around us, all the time. I’m praying that in this moment and time, these girls hearts are racing, their hands are sweaty and that this is a wake-up call of sorts. An almost got caught moment. Maybe words of their moms are ringing in their ears, because they come from a good home, a praying parent. Maybe they don’t. Maybe this is a station in their lives where they have to decide to take the road traveled that takes them lower still, or the road that takes them up-up-and away to better things.
No matter what today is brought to you by a once upon a time life I’ve been thinking about. Corrie Ten Boom. Someone who when in a very wretched, place, in a very horrible time, chose to do that which most of don’t do when we are far less hurtful, and less sickening situations. We have so much to learn. Maybe we should be, in a hiding place of our own today, owning it. Owning up to the fact that we have our own moments of stealing something that would have, could have, and should have glorified *GOD*, but we didn’t.
Just something to ponder, if you’d like. Years later, in case you don’t know her story, Corrie came face to face with someone who killed, tortured and as some of us might say, was pure evil.
Here is her story. I ask you, when you are done, is there someone you know that could be any worse? Someone you just have not forgiven?
“It was 1947, and I’d come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth that they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I liked to think that that’s where forgiven sins were thrown.
‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever. And even though I cannot find a Scripture for it, I believe God then places a sign out there that says, ’NO FISHING ALLOWED.’
The solemn faces stared back at me, not quite daring to believe. And that’s when I saw him, working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a cap with skull and crossbones. It came back with a rush—the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking naked past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin. Betsie, how thin you were! That place was Ravensbruck, and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard—one of the most cruel guards.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: “A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!” And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course—how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him. I was face-to-face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
“You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there.” No, he did not remember me. “But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein,”—again the hand came out—”will you forgive me?”
And I stood there—I whose sins had again and again been forgiven—and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place. Could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could have been many seconds that he stood there—hand held out—but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do.
For I had to do it—I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. “If you do not forgive men their trespasses,” Jesus says, “neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” And still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart.
But forgiveness is not an emotion—I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. “Jesus, help me!” I prayed silently. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust out my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart!” For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely, as I did then. But even then, I realized it was not my love. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit.
[Holocaust Victim Forgives Captor, Citation: Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (Berkley, 1978), pp. 53-55]
Until all have heard and know of His love,