Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Living Mystery

"To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery.  It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist."

These words were penned at a time when even the slightest suspicion put one's life at risk.  And for so many, indeed, it did.  The writer was Cardinal Emmanuel Celestin Suhard who had the privilege of serving God as the archbishop of Paris from 1940 until his death in 1949.  That period of time included the German invasion and the Occupation of France when nearly 76,000 Jews were sent by trainloads to the German death camps.

The Christians in the small village of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon chose to live such a mystery as that.  From December 1940 to September 1944, this village of 3500 residents provided refuge for an estimated 7000 Jews, sheltering them in their homes and farms.  They quite literally put their own lives on the line.

Years ago, I came upon an interview with some of those surviving residents.  When asked why they would sacrifice their lives for strangers, they looked at the interviewer, as if not understanding his question.  "Why would we not?" one woman answered.  "It was the right thing to do."  The entire story of this remarkable group of people is chronicled in the book Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed by Philip Hallie.

To the world, their actions did not make sense.  Indeed, it did not even make sense to those who sought refuge.  "Nobody asked who was Jewish and who was not.  Nobody asked where you were from.  Nobody asked who your father was or if you could pay.  They just accepted each of us, taking us in with warmth, sheltering children, often without their parents -- children who cried in the night from nightmares," stated one of the refugee children, now an adult, as quoted at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

What stands out so clearly to me is that these courageous people did not just suddenly in life-threatening difficulty begin to live that way.  "If we do not do the running steadily in the little ways, we shall do nothing in the crisis," says Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.  

Who or what one worships is revealed in the crisis.  Not just what motivates you, but who is at the core?  That which is true, that which is real, that which you value, is all manifest in behavior.  And it all comes to the surface not just in dangerous moments but in the every days of life.

May everyone around you recognize God's redemptive work in you.  He is all about who you are.  He is all over what you do. 

What am I doing today -- this week -- this year -- that would not make sense unless God exists? that they were astonished,
and said,
"Where did this man get this wisdom
and these mighty works?"

                    Matthew 13.54

Live in such a way that those around you
are compelled to ask

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