Have you ever read a book before that marked you for life? You know, one of those books that flipped a switch inside you, or made you look at things in a new way. I LOVE to read, and over the years I have read many books that gave me great information and inspired me, but there are only a few that come to mind that reached into the depths of my soul and touched me in the most profound way. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is one of those books. I’m not sure anyone can read this book and walk away the same person. I believe this is why I am freaking out excited YOU are here reading this post. I’m hoping your eyes reading these opening words, means we are about to embark on a journey together as we discuss the life of the Ten Boom family.
Before we get started, may I share a few ideas that have been rolling around in my head regarding our time together? Great. I knew you would be cool with it. I know you and I are walking through this together, but would you consider walking through this with a friend, maybe a few friends, and/or family members? One of the things I love to do when reading a book is to discuss it with Jeremiah. He gets the Monique Notes, which are usually twice as long as the book. I can’t tell you how many have messaged me saying they have read this with their children when they had to read it in school. I can only imagine the conversations around the dinner table. This book highlights the life of a FAMILY, so how fitting to read this as a family. I wonder if Casper, Corrie, and Betsie had a clue as they sat around their dinner table discussing life, that THEIR lives would be discussed around dinner tables centuries later?
One more thing before we begin. Grab a notebook and pen and have them by your side as we discuss this together. I enjoy asking questions, and you better believe I will be throwing them your way. I will pause right here while you go grab that notebook. Really. I’ve got all the time in the world, go buy one if you need to. I’ll be right here waiting.
Alright, the time has come. Let’s dive in. We will be discussing the intro pages and chapters one and two in this post. There will be five more writings following this one, which will each cover three chapters in each post. Chapters three, four, and five will be discussed in our next meet-up. Cool? Yay. Buckle up, this is going to be such an amazing time together.
I’m not sure which version of the book you are reading, but the 35th Anniversary Edition begins with a foreword by someone who was impacted in a major way when reading the story of the Ten Boom family, specifically Corrie Ten Boom. You see, this person was struggling to survive. Oh, it wasn’t the same struggle Corrie faced of gas chambers and concentration camps, but it was the struggles of living life as a quadriplegic. Over the years, there were specific words that brought hope and peace that the Lord would bring to their attention from the time of reading this book. My prayer is the Holy Spirit does the same in your life. I pray certain verses, or words, are planted deep within your heart, and just the moment you need them in your life, the Lord would bring them to the surface of your mind.
What struggles are you currently facing? This would be a great time to open that notebook and write a few out. Here’s the deal. Don’t listen to the thoughts going through your mind that your struggles don’t compare to living through the holocaust or being confined to a wheelchair. Your struggle right now is YOUR STRUGGLE. It would make my day if you would write it out. What you are going to learn through reading this book, is the beautiful ways the Lord was near and present during specific struggles. No matter how big or small, He was present. Whether you are going through a season of loneliness, sickness, heartbreak, or financial troubles, I am so confident you will begin to grab hold of peace as you read through The Hiding Place.
Don’t you love when you have profound moments with a book before you even read the first chapter? Again, in the 35th Anniversary Edition, the Preface tells of an encounter with two survivors of the holocaust. Each was speaking at a retreat and telling their stories. While their stories were very similar, their countenances were drastically different as they shared about this time of their lives. One still lived with fear, hurt, and anxiety, but Corrie had the hope of Heaven. She had Jesus. Peace, love, and joy overflowed and oozed out of all she said and did. I mean seriously, this can only be Jesus. I will go ahead and give some spoilers. I love how real Corrie is in her writings and in sharing her true thoughts as she walked out this difficult time. It makes me laugh and breathe a sigh of relief that she is human. She will share the times she questions God or doesn’t want to forgive or be generous. It’s in these moments we get a glimpse of what dying to self looks like and are reminded we need Jesus to walk this out.
Have you ever encountered someone who walked through a difficult situation, yet seemed to have a supernatural peace during that season of their life? Maybe this is your story. Has there been a time in your life when chaos was all around, but you had hope that kept you anchored in place during the most turbulent waters? Do you know of someone who forgave what had to be the hardest thing ever to forgive? Will you write that out in your notebook? I have a friend who experienced a horrific accident many years ago. Her family was eating in a restaurant and a drunk driver plowed through the building, killing her little girl, and disabling another. She knew she had to forgive this driver. My human mind can’t understand how she did this, yet this is her story. Blows my mind. Only through Jesus, right?
The only way all this can be explained is the fruits of the spirit flowing through someone’s life.
Chapter One: The One Hundredth Birthday Party
Oh, how I love chapters one and two of The Hiding Place. In chapter one, we are joining the 100th birthday of the Ten Boom Watch Shop. This celebration gives us a glimpse of a family who impacted many in their community. Oh, this wasn’t because they hid Jews in their home, this celebration is before any of that happens. They lived a life of loving others well, way before the time came for them to risk their lives for others. Chapter One paints this picture very clearly. People came from all over to honor Casper and his accomplishments. Children, young, old, rich, poor, they all were drawn to this home, to Casper.
While we are just at the beginning of this book, what qualities have you seen so far in Casper that would seem appealing to others? Do you mind writing that out in your notebook? How does he make others feel? What are some constant disciplines in his daily life?
What If We Could See the Big Picture?
Many things stood out to me in chapter one, but the passage below, oh man, it made me stop and think. Corrie was talking about the memories they were reminiscing over and only if they knew what was around the corner. Let’s read it together.
“How could we have guessed as we sat there, two middle-aged spinsters and an old man, that in place of memories were about to be given adventures such as we had never dreamed of? Adventures and anguish, horror and heaven were just around the corner, and we did not know.
Oh Father! Betsie! If I had known, would I have gone ahead? Could I have done the things we did?
Corrie gives you a quick glimpse into some gruesome things that are about to unfold. She questions whether she would have walked the path had she known what was ahead. What an honest statement and one that made me stop and think. How about you?
The Normal Everyday Routines and Life
When discussing this book on social media the other day, I read a comment that made me smile. Let me start by saying, this person didn’t mean anything remotely negative with her statement, she was simply stating the truth. Not much is going on in chapters one and two, just talking about the house, the watch shop, and getting to know the family members.
Life for the Ten Boom family was routine until it wasn’t. Casper, the father, was born in what was now their dining room. Corrie remembers playing under a table in that same dining room when she was a child. It’s the same room they gather around and read from Casper’s Bible every single day without fail. It also would become the room where they would one day sit and have drills as they rushed Jews up to a hiding space at the top of their house. You see, the latter didn’t happen until Casper was in his 80s and Betsie and Corrie in their 50s. Pretty wild, right? Just a normal, some might say boring, uneventful life.
This family built a strong foundation in the normal parts of their lives. I firmly believe their deep love and personal relationship with Jesus, which spilled over into their love for others in the day in and day outs of their 80-plus years and 50-plus years of their lives, is what allowed them to find the boldness and courage to walk out some of their most terrifying days.
The simplicity of loving God and others is what I have been most inspired by throughout this book. It has challenged me to spend less time worrying about the perfect Insta account, branding, business plan, and number of typos I may have in this post, and grab hold of what life is all about. Loving God and loving others.
Chapter Two: Full Table
I promise I’m about to wrap up this first post, but let’s finish by discussing chapter two, Full Table. I believe this is at least my third time reading The Hiding Place, and I have also listened to it on audio. I geeked out a little more than normal when reading this chapter this go around. Why? Well, you see, Jeremiah and I recently had the opportunity to visit the Ten Boom family home and Watch Shop. Ummmm, YES, we did. I could have spent all day in this house. We were on a small group tour, and I didn’t get near the amount of time I needed in each room. We will talk about that more later, because I could talk, your ear off about it.
Home and family are the two things that stood out to me when reading this chapter. When we visited the home, I couldn’t help but think about how many people were always packed inside this house. It truly isn’t that big, yet there seemed to always be room for one more. Whether it was an aunt, or aunts moving in, or total strangers, this home had an open door for others.
I love that Corrie takes us on a trip down memory lane in chapter two. We get a glimpse into her younger years. We continue to see the gentle loving spirit of her father, Casper. It was this chapter that made me stand in the train station a little longer when we traveled from Amsterdam to Haarlem. I kid you not, I stood there imagining her tiny hand slipped into her father’s. So many nuggets of wisdom he would speak into her little life on these outings to check the time at the Naval Observatory. Did he know how impactful a few words would be to her, and how the Lord would bring them to her remembrance in the most horrific of times?
Let’s discuss two of the conversations revolving around the train station. The first is when she asks him about a subject that’s too heavy for her to handle. He hands his large bag for her to carry off the train, and she can’t even lift it.
“Will you carry it off the train Corrie?” he said.
I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now, you must trust me to carry it for you.”
And I was satisfied. More than satisfied, wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions, for now, I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.
Did this speak to you as much as it spoke to me? Holy cow. How many times do I go to God wanting to understand and know things? Maybe it’s just too much to carry. Am I content with leaving it in my Father’s keeping? Oh. My. WORD. This was such a great mental image.
Finally, one of my favorite moments in chapter two, if not in the whole book, is when Corrie is upset about the thought of death. She is quite young, and death is now at the forefront of her mind after visiting a family who had a baby die at birth. When her father comes to the room to tuck her and her sister into bed, which side note, I love the many opportunities Casper created for his children to ask him questions, she bursts into tears telling her father she doesn’t want him to die. Let’s read it one more time together.
But that night as he stepped through the door, I burst into tears. “I need you!” I sobbed. “You can’t die! You can’t!
Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed. “Corrie,” he began gently, “when you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?”
I sniffed a few times, considering this.
“Why, just before we get on the train.”
“Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we’re going to need things too. Don’t run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need, just in time.”
I mean really, I have no more words. We can just end it there. Did this part of the book stand out to you too? How did it speak to you?
One Final Thought
I would like to end our time together by bringing this right back around to something we discussed at the beginning of this post. I beg of you to read this book with your family. Read it with your kids, your grandkids, your nieces, and nephews. Go through this book with a friend or your spouse. Have deep conversations. Will you please? There is this deep longing in my soul to get back to the simple. Loving God and loving others. This book will ignite this in your life and I pray as it does, you spread it to others.
I’m so thankful we are walking through this book together. Can’t wait to see you back here as we discuss chapters three, four, and five.
Before we part ways, will you share in the comments what a few of your favorite takeaways were from these pages of the book? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!