Recently, I have had the opportunity to research three great women of the past and the present who have inspired my personal walk with the Lord. These women, Ruth of the Bible, Corrie ten Boom, and Joni Eareckson Tada, all share the same Hope even though their life stories are extremely different, in both time periods and circumstances. We can glean something from each of their testimonies.
Ruth of the Bible is known for her faithful statement to her mother-in-law: Where you go I will go; where you stay I will stay; your people will be my people, and your God, my God (Ruth 1:16). This young Moabite women was willing to lay down all that was familiar and walk into a foreign land. Because of God’s grace and Naomi’s witness, Ruth fully embraced this unseen God of Israel as her own…. He had become her one true living hope.
Corrie ten Boom and her close-knit family chose to risk their own lives in order to hide Jews when Hitler invaded Holland during World War II. Sadly, on February 28, 1944, the whole family was caught and sent to a concentration camp because of their underground work. Corrie Ten Boom miraculously snuck her Bible into the camp, which became her and her sister’s only living hope in the vast darkness of torture and despair. During this evil time, Corrie had to lay down all of her family through the death of the Nazi camps; yet, she herself walked out of the camp, with the living Hope.
In 1967, Joni Eareckson Tada dove into the water off of a pier in the Chesapeake Bay; from that point, her life was never the same. When her head hit the shallow ground, she broke her neck between the 4th and 5th cervical vertebrae, leaving her paralyzed to this very day. Over time, Joni learned to lay down her personal future and then “walk” with with the living Hope, trusting the Lord each step.
And the Hope of these women have left their mark on us today. Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David; so this God-worshipping Moabite woman is in the direct lineage of our Savior Jesus Christ. Corrie ten Boom, rather than carrying bitterness and revenge in her heart, has touched millions of lives by pouring out God’s love with her story of forgiveness found in Christ alone. And Joni Eareckson Tada is currently an internationally acclaimed artist, author, and advocate, all of which are avenues in which she proclaims Jesus as both the Healer of brokenness and the Lover of souls.
What about you and me? Are we willing to lay down the familiar, possible family or friend relationships, and even our future dreams so that the gospel can be spread in ways that we could never do on our own? Although these women experienced great personal loss, their gain for the Kingdom is immeasurable. From my research, I found their common thread; I am convinced they would say, and even sing, these words in unison (someday they will):
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given to us. Romans 5:3-5
I pray you and I will carry these women’s torches onward, as we walk with the Living Hope, Jesus Christ Himself, into 2012.