Imagine you live in Holland after Hitler’s conquest. The Nazis are pressing every healthy young male into their army, and you have three ‘eligible’ older brothers. Every day you keep a watch for the soldiers, for fear they will take your brothers away. Then one afternoon as you’re getting ready to have tea, two of your brothers burst through the door, yelling that the soldiers are coming. They clamber down into the potato cellar to hide, and you drag a rug and the kitchen table over the trapdoor. (You’re thankful for the floor-length tablecloth you put on it!) The next instant, as you shakily attempt to set the table, soldiers burst in the door. They demand to know where your brothers are, and you’re faced with a dilemma: do you lie to protect them, or do you tell the truth and betray them?
In The Hiding Place (Chapter 7), Corrie Ten Boom wrote that her niece, Cocky, was faced with just this dilemma. Cocky’s mother had raised her to tell the strict truth, insisting that “God honors truth-telling with perfect protection!”. So when the soldiers demanded to know where her brothers were, she immediately responded, “Why, they’re under the table.” The soldiers looked under the tablecloth and saw nothing but the rug. They were so flustered that they left without finding the boys.
For the past few months we’ve been studying 1 Peter in Sunday School, and as I pondered over some of the verses within it, I was reminded of that story. The passage that reminded me of it is 1 Peter 2:21-23:
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.
(I italicized the phrases that stood out to me.) Cocky was faced with a choice – either lie (which she knew was wrong) to protect her brothers, or tell the truth and risk losing them. Most people would pick the lie in a heartbeat because they believe protecting someone from harm outweighs the lie. I honestly don’t know which I would have picked if I had been in Cocky’s place, but I was challenged by how she responded. She chose not to commit sin by lying, and trusted that if she did the right thing, God would take care of her brothers.
Wow, that takes faith! [Trusting God’s word is true and acting on it.] When your human understanding says to do a little wrong for the sake of the good it will bring, but God’s wisdom says to do the right thing no matter the consequences, what do you choose? I think Cocky’s mother was right; if we stick to doing what’s right, God honors it in ways our human understanding can’t grasp. Cocky had no idea that her telling the truth would be the very thing that would make the soldiers leave her brothers alone. She probably expected them to find the trap-door and take her brothers. But she chose to tell the truth in spite of that, and God honored it.
You know as I look at 1 Peter 2:21-23, I see a few interesting things. The first one is that before he even describes what Jesus did, Peter made sure to let us know that we are supposed to follow His example. And then he goes on to describe some important actions:
1. He committed no sin, including that of deceit.
2. When reviled, and persecuted, He did not give in to the human urge to retaliate.
3. He entrusted His life to God.
I really want to focus on that third action, because that’s what I’ve been learning recently. What does it mean to entrust your life to “Him who judges justly”? As I’ve chewed on this verse in the past week or two, I’ve found myself applying it to trusting Him with my uncertain future. There are quite a few things I want to happen, but I don’t really *know* whether or not they will. I can either worry about things that I want to happen and places I want to go with my life and spend my time stressing about how to get there, or I can focus on the present – focus on just today, just the things He’s asked me to do *now*. If I ‘befriend faithfulness’ in the immediate present He will take care of the future, even if through my human eyes the consequences to my faithfulness look like they will take me in the opposite direction from where I want to go. If I, like Cocky, choose to do what I absolutely *know* is right, He will honor it. He doesn’t need me to ‘bend the rules’ to make His will happen. Sheesh, do I believe He’s all-powerful or don’t I? That’s what it really comes down to.
I looked up the word ‘judge’ as I was thinking through this post, and amongst all the definitions one might expect, I found one that caught my eye: “Rightly to understand and discern”. Who understands and discerns what’s best for me better than the One who created me? While I spend time worrying about what God’s will for me is, He already knows it. While I fret about how to serve Him, He already knows; He has the power to use a single act of service in the present to lead to greater ways of serving in the future, and all He wants is for me to listen and obey in that moment. If I obey Him no matter the consequences, He’ll use whatever consequences to continue to lead me towards the future He has planned for me. All I have to do is entrust myself to Him and do what’s right.