I went to Germany in October to see my sister Susan and meet my nephew, Grey. My brother in law is currently serving in Afghanistan (which by the way he gets home today for his two week leave!). My main objective was to help Susan get Grey back to the United States for a couple of months. I was there for 8 days. I learned so much while I was there. I am going to share one story of many. But, this story is something I have thought about every.single.day.since.my.return.
We went to Flossenburg Concentration Camp. We got there at about closing time. The sun was setting. The wind was blowing. It was a sobering moment. I could not speak. We walked along and all I could imagine was how many people walked this same ground to their death. We went up to one section and Susan left to go and feed the baby. I was there all by myself.
I started to read the plaque. And immediately I knew one of the men. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It took my breath away. Still does. Even thinking about it. I read about how he was executed 2 weeks before the liberation of Flossenburg. Oh, sweet Lord.
As I walked, tears streaming down my face and wind blowing and the sun setting. I was desperately searching for His face. Where were you, Lord? Where?
Then I see the monument with the names of the men who gave their lives for Christ. With a Cross and this scripture:
"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7
I hardly have words.
But it is this quote about Bonhoeffer's death that I can't quit thinking about:
The camp doctor who witnessed the execution wrote: “I saw Pastor
Bonhoeffer ... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was
most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so
certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again
said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave
and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty
years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so
entirely submissive to the will of God.”
Think about that.
Then about two weeks after returning from Germany, I am outside with the kids. A car pulls up slowly. The lady stops and says, "I am trying to get Mr. Miller to look at your blow up pumpkin (which was a clearance purchase and pretty awesome). Do you know Mr. Miller?" Me, "No, I don't." Lady, "Mr. Miller lives a few houses down. He is one of the last remaining survivors of Auschwitz." Then she proceeded to show me the tattoo on his arm. Took my breath away. Again. I had no words. (Which is unusual for all who know me well;))
I googled Mr. Miller. He suffered a stroke 20 years ago and had not spoken since. This is the article that I read. Mr. Miller passed away in December. I just found a video that a local news station did on Mr. Miller.
These two men never lost their faith. And they have given me Hope. And changed me.
And stirred in me the question, "Am I willing to be submissive to the will of God? No matter what it looks like?"
I will always remember. Because remembering is good. Even if the situation was not. Remembering helps to keep our eyes and heart fixed on the Lord.