In conjunction with a wonderful business trip to Amsterdam in the Netherlands with my son this past week, I read a book recommended by my pastor about a young girl who suffered under the German occupation of Holland during World War II. The book, by Nettie Vander Schrier, is titled The Golden Thread. Her story of survival and service in the face of horrible cruelty and destitute circumstances is truly inspiring. Nettie also explains how God’s hand and answers to prayer, which she calls “the golden thread,” are what got her, her family, and her husband’s family through the difficult times of hiding and near starvation.
The German Nazis were insidious in the ways they manipulated those under their occupation. They constantly threatened anyone who resisted with punishment ranging from confiscation of property, to conscription in the German army, to murder. To increase the ranks of those in their fighting forces they used the promise of food for those men who either volunteered to join, or to people who revealed where a young man may be hiding. Because of this, neighbors tried to keep their own circumstances secret from each other. The temptation to turn in a fellow neighbor was too strong in the face of sure starvation.
Many brave men turned themselves in to the Nazis in order to save their own families from death by starvation. In exchange for a loaf of bread they would agree to enlist and be transported to Germany. Perhaps the war would end soon, or perhaps they could escape, but the immediate choice had to be made. In essence they gave their lives in ransom for a bit of provision for their loved ones.
In a small way, this is a picture of what Christ has done for us. In order to save us from the ravages of our own sin, He gave His life. We no longer need to be held captive by the cruel occupation of the enemy. However, it involves a choice on our end – we need to choose to join forces with the Almighty and to serve Him forever. Paul says this:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
The cold, hard truth is this…we will serve one master or the other. Either our lives will be “occupied” by Satan and sin, or we can give our souls to the redeemer King who promises eternal life to all who choose serve in His glorious army.