Some people have a wonderfully simple way of wording things. Today’s allegory is inspired by a quote attributed to Corrie ten Boom. To bring the quote to life, I have woven a story. At the end, I will share the quote which I’m sure will be as inspirational to you as it has been to me.

Standing on the station platform, I studied the incoming train. I glanced at the ticket in my hand. Yes, this was the train I needed to get to the Bible school.

Once the departing passengers cleared, I climbed aboard and located an empty seat in the half-full train car.

Parking my suitcase by my feet, I pulled my backpack onto my lap.

A few minutes later, the train gave a lurch and proceeded on its way.

I glanced around me. No English anywhere. All the ads and station names were illegible to me. Each snippet of conversation that reached me from fellow passengers was as good as jibberish. I understood none of it.

Rather than let that worry me, I leaned back, letting my gaze roam the city streets we hurried through. They too were entirely unfamiliar. I had no way of telling whether this train was heading the right direction. Yet, the number on the outside of the train matched that on my ticket. Surely it would take me there.

I knew it would be more than an hour until I arrived, so I allowed my mind to wander as I admired the rich greens of the countryside we’d entered.

I knew a little about my destination. Around 100 students would be there, none of whom I’d met before. Classes would be in English. Our rooms and food were provided. It was near a lake.

Still, a million unknowns crowded into my mind.

I pushed the worries away. I would trust God. He’d pointed me this direction. I would follow. He would give me what I needed.

The steady rhythm of the track made my head begin to nod. I hadn’t slept well during the hours spent on the plane.

I pulled my backpack closer as my eyelids drooped.

I sat bolt upright, aware that I’d been sleeping. Something was different.

It took me a moment to realise the train had been thrown into darkness.

Looking out the window, all I could see was black.

I felt the train turn, as it wound through the darkness. Were we going in the right direction?

I bit my lip. I really did not want to get lost in this foreign country. Was I on the wrong train? Should I pull the emergency brake and jump off here?

No, I was certain this was the train I was meant to be on.

I had no idea what direction my stop was, but the train driver knew.

As I watched the beginnings of light returning to the outside world, I leaned back in my seat. I would have to trust the driver. He knew what he was doing.

So, what was that quote I mentioned at the beginning of the post? You may have heard it before.

“When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the Driver.” – Corrie ten Boom

What does this allegory mean? Picture God as the train driver or engineer.

When I became a Christian, God invited me onto a train. He set a new life before me – different from the life I was living before.

Sometimes as I travel on the train that God is driving, everything seems wonderful and happy. At other times, the train goes through a tunnel and life gets hard… very hard.

When life gets hard do I turn my back on God and jump off the train He has put me on? Or do I trust that He is still in control and knows what He is doing?

For Corrie ten Boom, a very dark tunnel came in the form of the Nazi Ravensbrück concentration camp. She watched her sister, Betsy, die and faced brutal treatment day in and day out. Yet Corrie did not abandon her faith in God. She trusted the Driver, and He carried her through.

When a dark tunnel comes in my life, may I follow Corrie ten Boom’s example. May I trust that God is still in control. He will see me through.

 

If you want to read Corrie ten Boom’s story, I highly recommend her book The Hiding Place. You can buy it on Amazon here.

(This is an affiliate link meaning I earn a small commission when you make a purchase at no added expense to you.)

A lonely stroller with the title Held Back?

 

The other day, my husband and I went for a walk with our little one. The skies were clear and it was an exceptionally warm spring day.

As we approached a steep hill, we strapped our little one into her stroller.

With my husband handling the stroller, we began the descent, thankful for the well-paved path.

My husband, being much taller than I am, let the incline carry him faster and faster. I hastened to keep up.

I laughed. “You and your long legs. You can go so much faster than me.”

Slowing so I could keep up, my husband replied, “Our little one could go faster than either of us if I let her.”

I glanced down the rest of the hill. He was right. If allowed to, the stroller, with our little one in it, had the potential to gain tremendous speed. That is, until it reached the first bend in the path and toppled.

I wasn’t worried. I knew my husband and his deep desire for our daughter to have the best. I knew he would protect her from such a traumatic accident.

“I’m glad you don’t let her reach her full potential,” I replied lightly.

How ironic. Typically we want our children to reach their full potential, but here my husband was holding our daughter back and I was glad.

That got me thinking. Sometimes I feel stuck – like I’m chomping at the bit – unable to reach my full potential.

Could it be that God, my Father, is the one holding me back? Could His plans be different than mine?

The Bible says:

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are My ways higher than your ways

and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

(Isaiah 55:9 NIV)

Do I really believe God knows better than me?

Sometimes I feel stifled in my growth and in what I am able to do. If I were a full-time writer, just think how many books I could produce! However, most of my time is spent caring for my family and keeping house. These are very good things, and I typically enjoy them. Yet they hold me back from what could be my full potential in a different set of circumstances.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time to change things up. A season to put some things aside so I can focus more on what God would have me pursue at that time.

There is also a time to embrace where God has put me now and learn to thrive in it.  Like a plant flourishing where it is planted, not pining to be transplanted or let loose.

How do I respond when I feel held back from what I believe to be my full potential? Do I pout and mope? Do I dare to criticize God? Or do I take my frustration straight to God, telling Him how I feel, then trusting that He knows best? 

If He wants me to do more, He will give me what I need for it when the time is right. I am thankful God is patient with me every time I forget this.

Indeed, there may be a time when it is good for my daughter to move at tremendous speeds – such as when her daddy teaches her to drive. Such speeds are beyond her one-year-old comprehension. That day in the stroller, to go zooming off down the path would have ended badly. It was beyond her ability to handle that speed in that circumstance. Her daddy understood this so he held her back.

God understands what is beyond my ability to handle right now. His holding me back from what I believe to be my full potential is because He knows best. He knows my true potential.

But, wait. Is this a Biblical principle? I’m glad you asked. Here are some examples of people in the Bible whom, I suspect, felt God was holding them back from their full potential, or at least from the life they felt called to or desired. Let me know in the comments if you agree.

David was a shepherd boy – a nobody. One day a prophet anointed David telling him that he would be the next king. At some point after that, David became a servant of the current king, Saul. Then things turned nasty. King Saul tried to kill David. For years David was running for his life. During that time, do you think David ever felt held back from his full potential – the thing God had called him to? Yet it was more than 10 years between the time God called him and when he finally became king. (1 Samuel 16 – 2 Samuel 5)

The demon-possessed man Jesus healed in Luke 8 also comes to mind. He wanted to follow Jesus.

“The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with Him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.” (Luke 8:38-39 NIV) 

Finally, I think of the Apostle Paul. Something was holding him back from what he felt was his full potential. Bible commentators vary in their speculation of what that something was. Whatever it was, it felt like a weakness – a hindrance. Paul wrote about it in 2 Corinthians 12:7b-9:

“I was given a thorn in my flesh… Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)

Today, in the midst of a culture urging me to push harder and reach bigger, may I rest in the fact that God knows what He is doing. His timing is perfect. May I thrive in this season right now.

As the well-known proverb puts it:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

in all your ways know Him,

and He will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (CSB)

Have you been running too hard recently? Do you need a reminder that it is okay to prioritize in this season of your life? I recently listened to a fantastic podcast on that very topic. I encourage you to listen in:

 

This week I’m taking a break from sharing allegories from my own life. Instead, I’m sharing an allegory Corrie ten Boom often spoke of.

(Note that while tapestries and embroideries are different based on the methods used, I use both terms interchangeably in this post.)

Have you heard of Corrie ten Boom? If not, let me fill you in.

Corrie ten Boom was a Christian and a Dutch watchmaker. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, Corrie and her family became involved in helping hide the Jews.

Eventually, the Nazis caught on and arrested Corrie, her sister, Betsie, and their elderly father. Her father died 10 days later.

Corrie and Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck – a brutal concentration camp. They were forced to work hard, given little to eat, and abused. Betsie died there, but Corrie miraculously was released.

After the war, Corrie travelled the world sharing her story and her faith in God.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend reading her biography: The Hiding Place.

Okay. Now that you know who Corrie ten Boom was and understand that she endured greater hardship than many of us can imagine, let me share an allegory she often told.

When speaking, Corrie would hold up a cloth with a jumble of dark and light threads that were all haphazard and unruly.

Holding the cloth for all to see, Corrie would explain how that cloth represented what we can see of our life. Our lives look jumbled and often the dark seasons we endure (like the dark threads) make no sense.

Then she would turn the cloth around revealing an intricately embroidered crown. She would explain that God sees this side of the cloth and one day will reveal it to us. 

Those dark threads, or dark seasons of our lives, make no sense right now but one day we’ll see what God was up to. The dark threads are necessary to make the whole embroidery stunningly beautiful.

The night before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

In closing, let me leave you with a poem Corrie ten Boom often quoted to capture this allegory.

Life is But a Weaving (The Tapestry Poem)

By Grant Tuller

 

My life is but a weaving

Between my God and me.

I cannot choose the colors

He weaveth steadily.

 

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I the underside.

 

Not ’til the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas

And reveal the reason why.

 

The dark threads are as needful

In the weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern He has planned.

 

He knows, He loves, He cares;

Nothing this truth can dim.

He gives the very best to those

Who leave the choice to Him.

Pregnant woman by title: "Might Be Today"

 

Rising from breakfast, I glanced at the small pile of dishes. I should wash them without delay because it might be today.

I reach for the measuring cup I use to water the houseplants. As I give each plant a drink I wonder, “Is this the last time before it happens?” Just in case, I give them extra.

As I hug my husband and tell him to have a good day at work, I remind him that it could be his last for a while because it might be today.

What might be today?

My baby might be born. Being past the due date now, I’m watching and hoping for signs that she might be coming.

In the meantime, we’re doing our best to keep everything ready.

We keep the dishes clean and the pantry stocked. We’ve already set out extra water for the cat and are at the ready to give her enough food to last longer.

The car seat is sitting by the door and the hospital bag is packed.

My husband’s co-workers have been informed and the truck has gas. We’ve even practiced driving to the hospital to be sure we know where to go.

Now we wait.

Will she come today? I don’t know, but I hope so.

Why do I share these thoughts? Because my baby is not the only one who might be coming today.

Jesus has told us that He is coming again. He might come today, or call me home.

Am I ready?

Is my heart prepared for His return?

Have I done the dishes and packed the hospital bag? Or have I let the dirty dishes pile into an unsightly heap?

Am I living as if this life is all there is or am I prepared for eternity?

In Matthew 24, Jesus is very clear. He is returning one day, but no one knows what day it will be. We must be ready for Him at any moment.

“This is why you are also to be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44 CSB)

Likewise, I know my baby is coming, but I don’t know which day. Therefore, I must be prepared for her arrival at any moment.

There is a song that’s been on my mind as I think about Jesus’ near return. It reminds us that:

“It might be today I look into Your eyes. It might be today I see Your face…”  (https://www.worshipsong.com/music/songs/songdetails/it-might-be-today)

Am I ready for His return? 

Jesus asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8b CSB) 

Oh, that He would find faith in me and find me ready on the day He returns or calls me home.

 

Brown grass and an empty pond

 

I followed the familiar path, thankful for a chance to get outside. The air had a chill, but only the smallest patches of snow lay where the sun could not find them hidden beneath the shadows. Otherwise, the ground was dry.

In fact, everything was dry. The grass was brown and the trees stood bare. The leaves, the trees had dropped, crunched under my feet. There was little colour anywhere beyond brown, brown, and more brown.

I stepped through the fence and swept fallen leaves off the bench before sitting on it. I stared at the pond in front of me. It was empty. There was no water.

Our summer had been longer and more dry than most years. The pond that typically had at least a little water all year round – indeed, sometimes enough to skate on in the winter – now lay empty.

It was more than that, though. This fall, not only had the pond become empty, but the typically impassable gooey mud of the pond bed had dried out to the extent that the property owner was able to drive heavy machinery through the pond. I could still see the thick tread marks.

The heavy machinery had been used to push dirt around. A large mound lay to the side. Much of the pond bed was now raw exposed dirt.

Yet, as I sat there, I was not displeased at the sight of thick tread marks and mounds of dirt because I knew the purpose.

The property owner had dug the pond deeper. Why? To increase its capacity. When the winter snow melts and spring rains come, the pond will be able to hold even more water than before. This will make it less likely to dry out when the following summer turns to autumn.

This deepening of the pond bed was something the property owner could only do during the rare times when the pond dried up. Not only did the pond need to be empty for such work to be done, but the mud at the bottom of it needed to dry for long enough to support the weight of the heavy machinery without causing it to sink and get stuck.

I leaned back on the bench listening to the occasional bird call in the otherwise silent afternoon.

Surely there was something to be learned from this pond, a lesson I could learn.

A sober thought came to me.

It is only when I am empty that God can do the work of increasing capacity in me.

True, there are many ways God works in my life.

While the property owner could trim the bushes around the edge of the pond, or add stones to the path leading to it while it was full, there are some kinds of work he could not do until the pond was beyond empty.

Likewise, God can work in my life in many ways, but some kinds of deepening can only be done when I am empty – empty of myself.

So what is it that the Lord wants to increase my capacity for? Some things, such as His love, His joy, and abundant life, He wants to give everyone who believes. Not a problem-free life, but a life marked with the inexpressible joy and peace that only comes from Him.

In John 10:10b, Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (CSB)

Other translations say, “have it to the full.” (NIV2011)

Paul prayed that God would enable the Ephesians to “know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19 CSB)

Next time I am feeling empty and surrounded by the browns of a winter not even brightened with snow, I hope I will remember not to panic. Instead, I ought to seek God and trust that this is the time when He can do His work of increasing capacity in me for more of Him.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 CSB)