Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Moral Compass

Yesterday, an 100 year old woman died quietly in a nursing home in Amsterdam.  To say her name, Miep Gies, you probably would not know of her.  But you are probably very familiar with what she did sixty-eight years ago.  When she was a young 33-year-old secretary in Amsterdam, she agreed to hide a young Jewish family and four of their friends.  She supplied them with food, books, and protection at risk of her own life for more than two years.  One of the young girls in that group was Anne Frank.  When the family was finally captured, Miep went into the secret annex, gathered up Anne’s papers and notebooks, and locked them in a drawer for her return after the war.  Only Anne’s father survived.  He published The Diary of Anne Frank in 1947. 

       Of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands before the Nazi occupation, only 5200 survived.   What is astonishing to me about this story was Miep’s attitude.  She risked her life for these people.  And she repeatedly denied that she was a hero.  “Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty,” she said in a 1997 interview.  “I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero?  I was not.  I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.”

     When she was approached about helping to hide the family, “I answered, ‘Yes, of course.’  It seemed perfectly natural to me.  I could help these people.  They were powerless, they didn’t know where to turn,” she said.

     There was a similar mindset among those who lived in the small French village of Le Chambon.  At risk to their own lives and their families, they hid total strangers right under the noses of their Nazi occupiers.  They alone with great courage and ingenuity saved the lives of 5000 Jews.  This was only but a small village, a tiny group of people.  Some of these rescuers ended up in concentration camps as a result.  Years later, when asked why they would go to those extremes for Jewish people whom they didn’t even know, the village people looked incredulously at the reporter and said, “Of course, it was the right thing to do.”

     Fast forward to 2010.  What would have happened today?  The moral compass is no longer pointed to “do the right thing,”  but “what’s in it for me?”

And yet, the Scriptures tell us otherwise.

     “He has showed you, O man, what is good,

       and what does the LORD require of you

       but to do justice, and to love kindness,

       and to walk humbly with your God?” 

                               Micah 6.8

     God gives us the opportunities every day, in huge sacrifices and even in the smallest of kindnesses.  As Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest, “But if we do not steadily minister in everyday opportunities, we will do nothing when the crisis comes.” 

     We are all in training.  Keep your compass fine tuned with God at the center of all things.   And may you say, “Of course.  It is the right thing to do.”  Without a flicker of doubt in your mind.   


Miss Liss said...

Hi Mrs. Wells ... It's Melissa, Laura's friend. I love reading your blog. You are such a talented writer and the scripture/messages you post are very encouraging. Keep posting!

Deb in KC said...

Karen, ditto. Your messages are truly inspirational to us. I really look forward to reading your blog. Blessings to you today and always!