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Words: Avis Marguerite Burgeson Christiansen (b. Oct. 11, 1895; d. Jan. 14, 1985)
Music: Wendell Phillips Loveless (b. Feb, 2, 1892; d. Oct. 3, 1987)
Note: Avis, a lifelong resident of Chicago, was married to Ernest Christiansen, a vice president of Moody Bible Institute. Beginning in 1916, and for about sixty years afterward, Mrs. Christiansen produced hundreds of hymns that have blessed the Christian community. The Wordwise link focuses on Mr. Loveless, but it also provides links to Avis Christiansen.
In 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands, beginning a reign of terror and cruel abuse, particularly for the Jewish people there. But, throughout the land, the Dutch underground fought to frustrate the plans of the invaders, and Christians risked their lives to help the Jews.
One family that did lived in the town of Haarlem. Casper ten Boom had a watch repair shop, and above the shop was the family’s living quarters. There lived Casper (an elderly widower), and his daughters Corrie and Betsie. When they became burdened for the plight of the Jews, they sealed off a section of Corrie’s bedroom as a hidden compartment. It became known as “the hiding place,” from Psalm 119:114:
“You [God] are my hiding place [my secret, sheltered place].”
Over many months, there were always people concealed there–some were Jews, others were members of the Dutch underground. In addition, Corrie became a ringleader in the resistance, and sought out other courageous families willing to hide more. In spite of extreme danger to themselves, it’s estimated the ten Booms saved the lives of some 800 Jews during the war. When reminded of the fearsome danger, Casper declared, “It would be an honour to give my life for God’s ancient people.”
Sadly, the family was eventually betrayed, and arrested. Casper died ten days afterward. Corrie and Betsie were moved from one concentration camp to another. While there, the two sisters showed the love of Christ, not only to other prisoners in the camp, but toward their captors as well. Using a Bible she had smuggled in, Corrie also taught the other women God’s Word, and many came to faith. Betsie eventually sickened and died, but Corrie survived and returned home in 1945. She went on to many years of active service for the Lord, until her death in 1983.
A number of times in the book of Psalms we read of the Lord Himself being a “hiding place,” a secure shelter for His people.
“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah [Think of that!]” (Ps. 32:7).
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust” (Ps. 91:1-2).
The ten Boom’s home, the refuge God provided through concerned believers, was a physical one. But we can face other dangers too. We have a spiritual enemy as well, the devil, who is constantly “seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Though he has human beings in his camp who oppose the cause of Christ, he and his demon army are a spiritual danger from their schemes and temptations. We need God’s protection from them, as sheep do from a shepherd.
The Lord Jesus portrayed Himself as a shepherd, and His followers as sheep under His care. “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (Jn. 10:14). He also spoke of Himself as “the door of the sheep [i.e. of the sheepfold]” (vs. 7). It pictures how the shepherd often posted himself at the entrance to the fold, defending the flock from thieves and animal predators.
In 1918 Avis Christiansen published a gospel song about God’s sheltering care. It says:
CH-1) I was straying when Christ found me
In the night so dark and cold;
Tenderly His arm went round me,
And He bore me to His fold.
Precious hiding place,
Precious hiding place,
In the shelter of His love;
Not a doubt or fear,
Since my Lord is near,
And I’m sheltered in His love.
CH-2) With His nail-scarred hand He brought me
To the shelter of His love;
Of His grace and will He taught me,
And of heav’nly rest above.
1) In what way has the Lord protected you in recently days?
2) Can you think of other hymns that speak of the Lord’s shelter and protection?