Perfect Flaws

My Christmas-gift calendar reminded me that Sunday, January 27, 2019 is International Holocaust Remembering Day.  And that caused me to remember one of the great stories to come out of those horrific years of WWII—a story of rescuing Jews.

Perhaps you’ve heard this story or read the book, The Hiding Place.  It’s the story of bravery and self-sacrifice of Corrie ten Boom and her family and friends in and around Haarlem, Holland, as well as what life was like in a Nazi-occupied country and in Nazi prison camps.  But I’m not going to retell their story; the book will do that for you.

My focus here isn’t on the people but on the house in which they lived.  A house which God spent more than 100 hundred years building for the short-lived, specific purpose of sheltering only a handful of Jews from the hate-fueled search of Nazis.  A house called “the Beje” (bay-yay).

The Beje, in Haarlem, Holland. Photo by Abbey Stellingwerff, originally posted at Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter. Used by permission.

Long before Hitler was even born in 1889, two narrow, 3-story houses were joined together with a steep stairwell between the backside of one and the long-side of the other.  (The two houses were perpendicular to each other:  one facing the main street while the other faced a side alley.)

The mismatched second house.   Notice the odd-placed stairwell windows.  Photo by Abbey Stellingwerff, originally posted on Dolls, Books and Things That Matter.  Used by permission.

Even though the floor levels didn’t match, God inspired someone before 1837 to join these two buildings into one.  These mismatched floor-levels caused the stairs to have more landings than expected, making it easier to be confused about the space.  Add in the warped walls, and it became impossible to tell whether a room was as big as the exterior indicated it could be!

Impossible?  Yes, because after the skilled craftsmen—under the direction of one of Europe’s most famous architects at the time—finished building a false exterior wall 30 inches in from the real exterior wall on the 3rd floor,[1] the Nazis NEVER noticed the discrepancy!

And six people were saved by that hidden room the day the Gestapo raided the house.  While hundreds had been helped by the work done by the residents—and even been sheltered briefly within the home, only six lives were spared because of its perfectly flawed nature.

Six lives.  Over one hundred years in the making to rescue six souls!

(It moves me to tears just thinking about it!)

The Hiding Place, on the top floor of the second house.  An elderly asthmatic made the mad dash up STEEP, crooked stairs & got down on hand & knees to crawl through that bottom shelf to safety in 70 seconds!  Photo by Abbey Stellingwerff, originally posted on Dolls, Books and Things That Matter. Used by permission.

It overwhelms the mind and emotions to contemplate that God’s love for the individual and His knowledge of the future are so great that He could and would devise and set in motion a plan of salvation far in advance of the need so that it all comes together in perfect timing!  Yet, this is nothing new.

This same God who built a crooked house a full hundred years beforehand to spare half-a-dozen people on a cold day in 1944 is the same God who created a plan to save everyone!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

And when did God devise this plan?  In Revelation 13:8, John speaks of “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (NIV), and Peter clarifies further that believers are redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ, a lamb” and that “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:19-20 [18-20] NIV).  In other words:  from the very beginning.  Even before the beginning!

Not only did God have a salvation plan in mind from the very start, He also had everything timed out perfectly.  In Galatians 4:4-5, Paul says, “…when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem [us]” (NIV).  In other words:  when the historical, societal stage was perfectly set, when the world scenario was just right, Jesus was born.  Jesus wasn’t born too early or too late.  His death was also perfectly timed.  Paul tells us in Romans 5:6 that “at just the right time, … Christ died for the ungodly” (NIV).  All things had been orchestrated to come into sync at the exact perfect moment.

God’s plan and planning are meticulously perfect!  That’s true whether He’s saving a world full of people from eternal damnation or six frightened refugees hiding from a hateful regime’s searching eyes.

But the Beje teaches me about more than God’s salvation plan.  It also teaches me to not despair over the less-than-perfect or defective in my life.

As a recovering perfectionist, I think that house would have frustrated me endlessly if I had to live in it.  I like things neat and orderly, unified and matching.  I would probably be embarrassed by that old house.

How many of us are embarrassed by the house we live in called our life?  Got any less-than-perfect experiences you wish were different or even non-existent?  Have any flaws –physical, mental, emotional, or personality-wise?

Don’t worry; you’re not alone.  Even Christians have less-than-ideal situations in their lives.  Nobody’s perfect.

True, some of those flaws are truly flaws that need to be overcome.  We don’t need them sticking around and messing things up.

But some of those things we don’t like and wish we could change are perfect flaws.  They’ve been allowed by God because He finds them useful for His glory and our good.  For all we know, God has designed them for a glorious purpose at some future specific time and place!

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay [frail, imperfect bodies] to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”—2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

So, do not despise such, but be willing to use them for His glory!  (See also 2 Cor. 12:7-10.)  And always stay in awe of God’s meticulously detailed, long-range planning and preparations!


Thanks for reading!


[1] Per the clues scattered throughout the book, the false wall was built around July 1942, in six days.  Although ready for immediate use, it does not appear to have been truly used (aside from practice drills) until that fateful day, February 28, 1944.  A few days later, in early March, the refugees were able to escape.  Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, The Hiding Place (Old Tappan, NJ: Spire Books, a Fleming H. Revell Company, 1971), pp. 75-77, 85-87, & p. 124ff, 167.

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™


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