Freedom From Responding Naturally

Recently I sorted through papers and came across quotes from Corrie ten Boom. 

When I first heard of Corrie she was traveling the world speaking of her harrowing experience in a concentration camp after being caught hiding Jews in her home during World War II. Despite her imprisonment, she emerged from her captivity celebrating the love and forgiveness of God.

While I was inspired by Corrie as I read her book, The Hiding Place, I was even more impressed with her sister, Betsie.  She died in the concentration camp, but her amazing faith emerged in Corrie’s writing.

What captivated me about Betsie was that instead of having a natural reaction to those inflicting her hardships, she had a supernatural one. When speaking of the man responsible for their ending up in the camp and for the death of their father, Corrie wrote of herself: “I knew that if Jan Vogel stood in front of me now I could kill him.”

But here are Betsie’s words:  “I’ve felt for him ever since I knew him—and pray for him whenever his name comes into my mind. How dreadfully he must be suffering.”

Corrie had the “natural” response.  Her sister had the supernatural or godly response.  She was able to see beyond actions to view a hurting person.

I’m realizing if I’m truly growing as a Christian, I will more and more stop acting naturally, especially toward my enemies. The natural response is to hate my enemies, but Jesus had an opposite instruction as to how I should respond:

But I say to you who are listening now to Me: …love your enemies, treat well (do good to, act nobly toward) those who detest you and pursue you with hatred.  Luke 6:27 AMP

But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you   Matthew 5:44 NIV

The only way to do this is to be free from my “Life is all about me,” mindset and allow myself to be led by the Holy Spirit.

Years after her release, one of the former guards from the prison camp approached Corrie and excitedly held out his hand to shake hers after hearing her speak about God’s forgiveness of sins. Here is what Corrie wrote about that moment:

“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man…Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile. I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your Forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

Every time I read that account, I’m amazed at how God can work through us to change the world—if we are willing to allow Him to.

Lord, I pray to be set free from responding naturally to those in my life who treat me unkindly. Let me have the supernatural response, which is treating others as Jesus would. Thank You that You give the power to respond with love. Amen.

Are you bound up with acting “naturally” in your marriage and other relationships that are going through conflict? Perhaps you have experienced cruelty. Pray God will intervene, so you can respond supernaturally. You’ll be astounded at how this will change your heart and theirs.  

To hear more about Freedom from Responding Naturally tune in to Hearts Set Free with Elaine @ on Saturday, November 12 at 10:30am. In the Tampa Bay area you can tune in on the radio at WTIS 1110 AM.



About elainecreasman

I am a freelance writer and inspirational speaker. Since 1986 I have led the Suncoast Christian Writers Group.
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4 Responses to Freedom From Responding Naturally

  1. gumby4jc says:

    I wept reading this as I am struggling with how to respond in my relationship with my girlfriend. I have tried asking God to change her, but now I realize God wants to change me.

  2. Jane Reece says:

    Many thanks; this a terriffic reminder!

  3. Lynn Wesolek says:

    Your timing is perfect! I experienced hostility, anger, disrespect and cruelty from a long-time friend last spring and was angry and hurt and wished her out of my life. I continue to choose not to have her physically in my life, but I will now pray for her with the wish of forgiveness; she is not a well person, nor a happy one. I cannot change her, but I can pray for her, and for me, and I thank you, Elaine, for another well-timed message! Love and gratefulness to you!

  4. Mary Ardis says:

    My pastor’s wife gave me a CD of Corrie Ten Boom giving a talk on forgiveness and I heard her tell the story that you relate about forgiving the former guard. I felt like I could hear her voice as I read your blog. What a powerful illustration of how we can’t forgive our enemies on our own. We can only do it with the help of Jesus. I pray it will speak to many who need to forgive someone in their lives. I am thankful for the sweet mercy the Lord has shown to me and pray He will always be there to help me to show mercy toward those who trespass aganist me. Thank you, Elaine, for sharing this lesson with us. I’m hoping to remember to try and catch your radio program in the morning. God Bless You!

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