Dear Emmalee: My prayer for you on your 5th birthdayBy
Sometimes the smallest things in life can be the most special. That was certainly the case when Corrie discovered an ant living with her. Normally ants are a pain and we try to get rid of them, but for Corrie, this ant was something to be celebrated.
You see, Corrie was living in a prison cell, all by herself. She had nobody to talk to, she was given little to eat, and she had to sleep on a filthy, scratchy straw bed with no way to stay warm. Normally people go to prison for doing bad things, but that wasn’t why Corrie was there. Corrie was in prison for doing something good.
Her full name was Corrie ten Boom, and the year was 1944. Corrie lived in Holland during the World War II era, when a man named Adolf Hitler ruled Germany and had taken over much of Europe. As I’ve written before in a letter to your brother Daniel, Hitler was one of the meanest, most wicked men who has ever lived, and he killed more than 6 million Jews who had done nothing wrong, simply because he hated them.
Corrie and her family did what they could to help the Jews. They created a room in their home where they hid several Jewish people from Hitler’s men for many weeks. They knew they would get in a lot of trouble if they were caught, but still they pressed on, because they were doing what was right. As Corrie wrote in her book, “The Hiding Place,” she and her family “knew that in spite of daily mounting risks we had no choice but to move forward. This was evil’s hour: we could not run away from it. Perhaps only when human effort had done its best and failed, would God’s power alone be free to work.”
Sure enough, their efforts to save the Jews were eventually discovered, and Corrie was thrown into prison. She had suffered there for a few weeks when she discovered the ant living in the cell with her. Here’s what she wrote about it:
I had almost put my foot where he was one morning as I carried my bucket to the door when I realized the honor being done me. I crouched down and admired the marvelous design of legs and body. I apologized for my size and promised I would not so thoughtlessly stride about again.
After a while he disappeared through a crack in the floor. But when my evening piece of bread appeared on the door shelf, I scattered some crumbs and to my joy he popped out almost at once. He picked up a heroic piece, struggled down the hole with it and came back for more. It was the beginning of a relationship.
She looked forward to the visit from the ant each day. Eventually, a few other ants came as well. Can you imagine how lonely she must have felt, for a visit from an ant to be the highlight of her day? But that’s what life was like for Corrie during that time.
Still, even while she was suffering so, Corrie did not lose her faith in God. She read from the Bible in her cell, and eventually, after she was moved to another prison, she and her sister began leading a Bible study for other women who were with them.
One morning, while Corrie was still in the cell with her ant, she heard yelling from the guards, who told the prisoners to collect all their things and get ready to move to a new place. As she waited, she hoped for a final visit from her little ant friends, but they were nowhere to be found.
“Probably I had frightened them by my earlier dashing about,” Corrie wrote. “I reached into the pillowcase, took one of the crackers and crumbled it about the little crack. No ants. They were staying safely hidden.”
Then she was reminded of an important truth.
“I too had a hiding place when things were bad,” she wrote. “Jesus was this place, the Rock cleft for me.”
As you go through life, Emmalee, I want you to know that your dad will always fight for you. I promise that I will do all I can to protect you and keep you safe from anything or anyone that would try to harm you. We live in a world that isn’t fair and that isn’t always easy. But I will be your guardian. I will be strong for you when you need strength. I will be a listening ear when you need to talk to someone. And my shoulder will always be yours when you need to cry on it.
But I also know that despite my best efforts and intentions, there will be times when I will not protect you and care for you the way I should. I will do my best, but I will certainly fail.
And so, as you celebrate your 5th birthday, my prayer for you is that you would come to know Jesus the way Corrie ten Boom did – because unlike me, he will never fail you. He will always be your rock, your fortress and your strength. He will be your hiding place when things are bad. I pray that you will learn to look to him to meet your every need, because he alone is the one in whom you can find perfect and complete love, care and salvation.
Corrie ten Boom believed wholeheartedly the words of Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” – and I pray with all my heart that you will come to believe them as well.
Happy birthday, Sweet Pea. You are truly one of God’s biggest blessings to me, and I love you so much.