When Corrie ten Boom, a renowned war hero from the 1940’s, was a little girl, she asked her father awkward questions about life and love.
She grew up to do great things that included hiding her Jewish neighbors from the Nazis regime during World War II, but as a kid, her early questions were just like any child’s questions, and her dad fielded those questions like any dad would. In response to one of her questions, her dad told Corrie to carry his suitcase.
Because it was too heavy. That was his point. He knew an appropriate, truthful response to her question just then would be too much for Corrie to carry. So, he told her it was like that suitcase and to let dad carry it for a little longer.
Corrie’s dad had a sense of timing. That’s a handy skill to have and most of us know that because…we don’t have it. A lot of us white-knuckle this parenting thing even while our kids ask basics like, “If Noah saved two of every animal, why’d he skip dinosaurs?” or, “Why doesn’t God rescue me from having no friends?” (see Honest Answers p. 11).
It’s exhausting just thinking about it.
Wherein, church. The body of believers. Our crew. Tribe. Our centuries-strong throng who uphold doctrine (and some dogma we’re trying to shake – working on it).
What’s one thing we can we do in our community of believers when we’re facing hard things? We can borrow from each other.
Borrowing From Each Other
The entire human race faces universal problems, but we walk them out in personal ways, especially as parents. Every kid is different. Every generation’s needs are tweaked to unique cultural pressures.
Don’t we know it?
Parenting through that is a lot of work. Each of us brings unique skills and strengths to the table (1 Cor 12:15-26). And at that table, one great tool for lightening our load is to borrow – borrow each other’s strengths, insights, lessons learned, mistakes made, good moves we might want to try ourselves.
Joshua’s spies borrowed from Rahab. She told them, “I know that the Lord has given you the land…all the inhabitants tremble with fear because of you.” (Joshua 2:9) And wouldn’t you know it, a few lines later those same spies are telling Joshua that yes, our army and our people could definitely do what Joshua was asking them to do. Why? “The Lord has given this land into our power; indeed all the inhabitants tremble with fear because of us,” they said. (Joshua 2:24)
Thanks for the talking points, Rabab. Borrowed. Sincerely, the spies.
Borrowing is built into Scripture!
Why is the business of borrowing built into Scripture? Because although we may face universal problems, we are not called to run our race with the same skills or tools or gifts or circumstances. We’re all running our own races that have been set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2). Which is to say, we will not know how to do it all. At all.
In our case, we can borrow from Corrie ten Boom’s dad. His answer to childhood Corrie was classic. His subsequent answers to adult Corrie helped her to carry on and continue to grow. In our floundering times as parents, we can borrow a line from Mr. ten Boom, we can borrow his learning, we can lean on his confidence until we navigate our own discerning sword of the Spirit. That’s one of the reliefs and rallying benefits of belonging to the body of Christ.
Which is not to say we can borrow from any and everybody we see at church. We’re warned in Scripture to watch out for those who are less discriminating (Jude 1:4).
For instance, when Corrie asked a local pastor to take a Jewish mother and her baby into his home for hiding, the pastor chastised Corrie for her involvement with illegal concealment by saying, “Miss ten Boom! Think of your father!”
Unbeknownst to Corrie, her father was in the doorway. He came forward to take the baby in his arms, and said to the man, “You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.”
Mr. ten Boom – a dad with the most amazing lines.
Our current cultural climate presents its own uniquely trying times. We are pressured to be tribal, polarizing, and hold a posture of clutching rather than one that resembles Scripture’s instructed freedom and open hand (Galatians 3, Deut 15:8-11).
It’s a lot of clamor to cut through.
Teetering along, navigating what is ours to do in the kingdom of Christ, having submitted to the authority of Jesus and guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is well with our souls to see a brother or sister running their race well and fighting a good fight (2 Tim 4:7-8).
When we do, let’s borrow what we can. We needn’t try to BE them – we have all we can do to be ourselves – but we can borrow from them.
That’s not an easy habit to develop. It’ll actually take practice. Some talking through. An annoying bit of trial and error. We should probably get started.
He wishes we would.
Janelle Alberts is a freelance writer and has written for Christianity Today and RELEVANT online pubs. Her first book, Honest Answers: Exploring God Questions With Your Tween, preps parents on how to tackle hard questions with their tweens using pithy Q&A’s and can be found on Amazon.