An Act Of The Will


       "Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart,” She spoke from personal experience.  Of all the places that she could be right now, this small church in northern Germany was the last place Corrie ten Boom wanted to be, but the first place she felt called. 

    The many wounds inflicted by the Nazi regime were still bleeding in her heart as she spoke to the congregation about God’s love and forgiveness.  Just months ago she had been imprisoned in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, one of the most notorious and deadly camps of world War 11; the very place where her beloved sister, Betsy, lost her life with countless other women.  Only twenty percent of the women who entered the gates of the camp, ever lived to see freedom again.

          Corrie’s mind flickered back to eight months ago and the German congregation in front of her disappeared behind the memory of the bitter cold night Betsy was taken from her.  Corrie still felt the chill of Betsy’s frail, icy fingers on her hand.  Her clear blue eyes, warmed by God’s love, echoed her last words to Corrie.  “Remember, dear sister,” she whispered gently, “no pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

        Corrie spent a sleepless night nest to her dead sister, reliving the vicious beating Betsy had endured at the hand of one of the German guards.  Corrie could still see the hatred in the steely blue eyes of a man wholly consumed by a very different spirit than that of her beloved sister.  Already emaciated and faint, the scourging had robbed Betsy of what little strength she still hung on to.  And now she was gone.  Like a robber who had stolen millions.  The guard had come back for the pennies that were left.  Silent tears of hatred and fervent prayers for forgiveness tore Corrie in two as her heart fought a war not unlike the one that was tearing the world apart outside.  Even as she was suffering at the hand of her enemy, Betsy claimed aloud God’s forgiveness for the man.  Corrie prayed for the same spirit.

         The memories vanished again and the sea of German faces reappeared.  “We all are adversaries of Christ, and yet His forgiveness is offered freely.”  She continued, as we ought to offer forgiveness to one another no matter how great or small the offense.”

        After the service, Corrie stood by the doors of the church speaking with the members as they filed out of the sanctuary.  She warmly shook hands and exchanged kind words with these people who a short time ago been enemies, and her heart overflowed with gratitude—and then stopped.  A face in the crowd that was moving slowly past froze her in place, causing her convictions on forgiveness to shake as violently as her hands.  A few moments later, the same steel blue eyes that had flashed with hatred for her sister were staring her in the face.  But the hatred was gone.  In its place was a deep sorrow and a question.  “Forgive me, Miss ten Boom,” he pleaded quietly, and held out a trembling hand toward her.  “Please.”  Corrie looked long and hard at the man who had killed her sister--  “Forgiveness—no matter the temperature of the heart,” she reminded herself, and raised her hand to grasp his.  Tears of joy and freedom flowed from both their eyes.


Alyssa A Laurent