Our shoes crunched over the gravel path as an eerie silence fell over us. Empty buildings, empty rooms, empty beds lay barren and desolate, standing as silent witnesses of what had happened.
Our tour guide must have known so much more than he ever wanted to tell. His grandfather had been there.
We were inside Auschwitz.
“…and we always wondered why he would walk around every day with bread in his pocket,” the guide was saying, “so one day, I asked grandma why. She shushed me, ‘Don’t ever, ever talk about it in front of him’ she said, ‘he will always carry bread in his pocket. Always. There was never enough to eat. He got so very, very hungry. Don’t ever talk about it again.'”
He continued explaining that every prisoner marched in under a bannered lie.
“WORK BRINGS FREEDOM” the guide pointed to a wrought-iron entrance sign above our heads and translated, then shook his head. “It wasn’t true. No one was getting out of there. They just wanted them to have a false hope so they would work harder.”
A false hope, and working harder, always harder, striving, stressing, and hurting. Isn’t that what the enemy always offers? He is not only always telling lies, but he is working to fabricate evidence around us to convince us that his lies are true. My week this past week was challenging, to say the least. Every time I turned around, there was a lie trying to erect itself as banner-worthy and believable. What’s worse is that lies really hurt. I’ve heard the enemy accurately described as “The Hurt Whisperer”. It’s so true. He is always and forever re-interpreting our circumstances to us in ways that speak hurt to the places we are most vulnerable. He unfurls banner after banner of lies and coaxes us to walk under. But all is not as it seems. Walking underneath those banners only makes the hurt get longer, louder, and more painful.
When banners of lies unfurl, there is something that we desperately need. We need to be washed. Ephesians talks about the “washing of the water of the Word”, and oh how I needed that last week. When we immerse ourselves in truth, lies cannot live. They are choked and drowned out. Banners are shredded and torn down. Hurt-whispering stops.
When life gets busy, it’s hard to have good chunks of time to soak in the Word. But I have come to love having Scriptures around the house like it’s the medicine that I desperately need and can’t live without…
…and it is.
I love having index cards by the sink, in the kitchen, by the coffeepot, by my office area. Cards that are like love notes, sent straight to me, like so many mini banners making up one large, beautiful banner. I might look at three words, or three lines. Whatever I need, I grab. And whatever God washes my heart with, I jot down fresh and put up new. Maybe I’ll keep the same one for a week, maybe a month. Some days it’s not just medicine. It’s an emergency IV, a shot in the arm for what hurts and stings and ails and it washes the hurt out clean. And there are some days when my lack of Christ-likeness saddens me greatly and I go to the love notes once again. He loves me so much and so well. I need that reminder some days to remember how to love others well.
And on the days when I do have a little longer to open the Word and read long and soak deep, I suddenly see the mini banners weaving in and out and around others’ lives, too, making up one boldly gorgeous statement that tears down every other banner in sight:
“He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.”
Song of Solomon 2:4