Corrie lived in a house crowded with her mother, father, two aunts, her sister, and her brother. The occupants filled the residence in Holland to and, perhaps, beyond capacity, and their faith saturated the home with gentleness and joy.
One of Corrie’s aunts, Jans, lived her faith by her enthusiastic participation in clubs and charities. She gave talks, wrote inspirational articles, and raised funds- all for the good of God’s Kingdom. Family members were sometimes concerned that her many activities got in the way of her faith, similar to Lazarus’ sister, Martha, who was distracted by many things. (Luke 10) Her busy-ness made her appear to be a human doing, rather than a human being. Luther could have described her approach to salvation as works-righteousness, instead of justification by grace through faith.
Jans’ family members were told by their physician that she only had a few weeks to live. The doctor thought it best for Jans to be informed about her fate by family members. They all agreed that this information would be especially devastating to one who had been so active. Without expressing their concern to one another, each wondered about the state of her soul, since she seemed to trust in her own efforts rather than in the grace of God.
They trudged up the stairs to Jans’ room with much trepidation. She gasped when she saw the solemn procession enter her cluttered cloister.
Corrie’s father began, “My dear sister-in-law, there is a joyous journey which each of God’s children sooner or later sets out on…Some must go to their father empty-handed, but you will run to Him with hands full!”
“Your clubs, your writings, your talks,” each member in turn enumerated Jans’ many activities.
Jans crumpled. Putting her hands over her face, she cried, “Empty, empty! How can we bring anything to God?”
And then she prayed, “Dear Jesus, I thank you that we must come with empty hands. I thank you that You have done all-all-on the cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this.” (From The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom)
The family had been concerned for nothing. Jans had known perfectly well that our hope for eternal life rests solely on the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross, not on our works.
During Lent, it is especially beneficial for us to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)
Jan’s approached death with this assurance. And she is a model for our living and dying.