Years ago, a friend of mine told me about how she used to read Corrie Ten Boom’s story every year.
I don’t recall the full extent of our conversation anymore, but I do remember a few details. The gist of it was about a question that a person in the book had asked Corrie Ten Boom. Namely, how was she able to save so many Jews during the Nazi regime? How did she and her family set out on such an endeavor?
Corrie Ten Boom humbly answered that she and her family hadn’t sought out Jews to save. Rather, many Jews had looked for them because of the reputation that she and her family had made for themselves before the war.
Years before the holocaust, the Ten Boom family had determined to be a blessing to their community. They provided food to the hungry, gave money to the needy, and hosted children whose parents were missionaries in different countries. Corrie also started a girl’s club in which she taught the young ladies about faith and practical matters, such as sewing.1
The Ten Booms were guided by their faith in all aspects of life, and they stood out to the community because of that faith in action. Therefore, when the darkness of the Nazi regime permeated the Ten Boom’s town, the Ten Boom’s light shone all the brighter.
I’m reminded of Matthew 6:33 as I think of Corrie Ten Boom’s story and what she and her family were able to accomplish.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
The Ten Booms lived this verse out beautifully.
A little over a month ago, I went jogging around the neighborhood. As I reached the last stretch of my jog, I looked up and saw the light pole pictured above.
At mid-morning, it was shining brightly, oblivious to the sun that was overpowering it or the fact that the other light poles on the block had turned off for the day, ready to rest and prepare for their night shift later that evening.
I felt compelled to take a picture of this peculiar light pole that morning. It seemed too symbolic not to. So I pulled out my phone and managed to capture a crooked shot of the image as I jogged by, and I’m so glad I did. The light pole reminded me of what my friend had told me about Corrie Ten Boom years earlier. It also reminded me of something I had prayed for at the beginning of this year—that I would be a light in my neighborhood.
As the year began, I felt very much like that light pole. It seemed as if I was trying to be a light on a sunny day. Nonetheless, I continued to pray that God would make me a light and started to make plans as to how I could further invest in the lives of my neighbors and be a blessing to them.
Little did I know how futile those plans would be.
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”Proverbs 16:9
As Covid-19 swept over the globe and disrupted our normal routine and that of countless others, I found all of my plans crumbling to dust beneath my feet.
It was ironic to think that God had most likely put the desire on my heart to be a light to my neighborhood when I was essentially “hiding it under a bushel,” or, in my case, in my home under quarantine.
I find this is how God works many times, however. He takes what seems impossible and makes a way.
While I found myself alone with my son at home most days, God was opening a door to have conversations with my neighbors through text messages. It has been through this means that I have been able to send them a link to the Gospel message (the one I sent them can be found here: http://www.4laws.com/laws/englishkgp/default.htm) and have also been able to invite them to my church’s online services.
In the more recent past, I have had even more opportunities to have contact with them from across the street or between yards, and even though we haven’t been able to have deep and meaningful conversations through this means, I do not take these moments for granted and trust that God is at work even in simple moments like these.
Not only have I seen God giving me opportunities to be a light through creative means, but I am hearing stories from other friends who are meeting new neighbors for the first time through daily walks or more time spent outside. Only God could take a global moment of isolation and separation to allow His children to get to meet people they may have never known otherwise. I’m so thankful for how He works.
The darkness continues to close in among this nation and our world. Although I have been aware of it before now, I don’t know if it has ever felt as thick to me as it does now. But perhaps this is what it takes for us, as believers, to truly be lights that make a difference in this world. Perhaps this is how our lights will truly shine and others will be drawn to that, and ultimately to Jesus.
I am reminded of my need to kindle this flame each day, but I am also painfully aware of my shortcomings to be a light each day as well. Nonetheless, I am confident of what the following verse from Phillipians 1:6 says:
“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…”
In the meantime, I’m going to keep asking God to help me be a light.