Blindness of the Heart

I have written previously about my father’s experience as an “conscripted” worker forced to work in Germany during World War 2. In the photo below, my dad (on the left) stands with two friends at a tram stop in Berlin in 1943.

dad germany

At a tramstop: Berlin c1943

From the photo it is difficult to believe there is a horrendous war going on at the time it was taken. Almost four years of war have already been gone through, yet daily life, it seems, is going on as normal. Within the next two years allied troops would storm Berlin and it would become a divided city until the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The people of Germany may have had an inkling, but certainly no knowledge of, what was going to happen in the future. As best they could, they were living life as normally as possible.

We may have a variety of responses to this. They must have been blind, or foolish or wilfully ignorant. Or, maybe, they were caught in a trap of their leader’s making and they felt powerless to do anything about it.

So often we live like that too. Men are good at denying symptoms of a disease until it is too late. Parents see behaviour in their children that should alert them to dangers but continue pretending that everything is ok. Or most seriously, we know there is a spiritual dimension to our lives but we fail to respond to it.

The other day I reviewed a book by Francis Spufford “Unapologetic”. What I liked about it was the struggle that he revealed as he dealt with those spiritual questions. He didn’t push that “spiritual nagging” aside but opened his life to its challenging journey.

My dad was a man like that. He was the black sheep of his family and the church. He asked questions that no one could, or wanted to, answer. However, as a child growing up it was plain to me that my dad had an on going conversation/argument/relationship with God. There was never a doubt about God’s existence. My dad just struggled to understand God’s intentions, or at other times submit to His call on my dad’s life.

One of the spiritual legacies my father left to me was the image of a real God who comes into our lives. He also showed me that this was a dynamic, on going and relationship. So, unlike the people in the photo above, there was never any doubt about how “life’s story” would end and who was in control.

Categories: christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Family, History, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Blindness of the Heart

  1. Greeting Pieter,
    This post impacted me on several levels. I lived in Germany for three years during the mid-60’s and loved the country and the people. While there, I visited Dachau. As a young teenager I was stunned to see evidence of such tremendous evil that man did to man. I had nightmares for a long time after the visit, and asked those tough questions myself. Another level from your post that moved me is your relationship with your father and lesson about the role fathers play in the lives of children. May the Lord strengthen men with love, commitment and wisdom, to fulfill their God-given role in the family. Praising God for your father’s influence in your life. We, your readers, are reaping the blessings.

    By the way, I believe the Lord answered my questions about the evil and how such a thing could go unhindered for so long. Simply, even though it took decades, this is the answer I received. The enemy of God kills, steals and destroys, while only good can come from our Heavenly Father’s hand. When the enemy is allowed to work, he will blind so he can carry on his evil schemes. Jesus instructs us to abide in Him, trusting and living in vibrant relationship with Him so we benefit from the Light and Truth of His Holy Spirit. We “submit to God, and resist the devil, he will flee”. Without that, we become vulnerable to enemy induced blindness. I believe there were also issue about moral integrity and courage that played a factor. Men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer exampled how a man filled with the Holy Spirit reacts to the enemy. I appreciate your words. Would you refer me to the link about your previous post on your father? I would like to read it……blessings from the Lord……Donna

    • Thank you for your very encouraging response. You are right. Christ can onlly defeat evil. He did of course on the cross and now we are his hands and feet on earth to reveal that. My dad, incidentally loved the ordinary German people he came across during the war. The German women in the factory often brought him food as they knew the men in the barracks often didn’t have enough. Once he went to a rally at the Olympic stadium. He described it as one the the most chilling experiences in his life. A hundred thousand people cheering as one when Hitler entered the stadium. Dutch prisoners had more freedom for if they escaped then authories would simply take another member of their family. Guardless prsions! The earlier post in which I mentioned dad is:
      There are also a few photos on flickr:
      Thank you again for your comments and interest.

      • Just finished reading Content in a WW2 work gang and viewed the photos. Your insight, by way of your father, is hard earned wisdom. Thanks!

  2. More, more….wonderful. I skimmed the historical for I have thought long and hard about the nazi mind games and their ability to sing a lullaby. However, I dove deep into your father’s heart in this post. I love that he was “real” with his relationship with God. I have never questioned God’s existence either, just His intentions, methods, and modus operandi…I too have argued, bargained, questioned, fought, laughed with, been angry with, and fallen in love with God…your dad and I would have had a lot in common! I pity a person who doubts the existence of the most magnanimous personality in the universe…
    Thanks Pieter!

    • Gideon, thank you for your enthusiastic reply. My dad was an uneducated man but not unintelligent and wrestled with God often. When my dad died I imagined him going straight to someone like Paul so he could have his many questions answered.

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