Once she discovered that the Nazis had rounded up Mies and all her Jews, she feared things would never be the same--and they weren't. Her parents let her know that the Gestapo had been to their house looking for her, that the whole operation was in peril, as was she, that she really couldn't come home again. When she put down the phone, she walked into the bank office where she worked and told her boss, "Goodbye--see you after the war."
A war that would last three more long years.
Her parents lied to the Gestapo that day, then lied again and again and again when the Gestapo returned at all hours of the day and night. They lied like practiced criminals. Time and time again, they lied, created a phony story cut from the horror of every parent's nightmare.
Their daughter was way out of control, they told the Nazis. They could do nothing with her, couldn't for a long, long time. Often, all night long, she'd be gone, and they had no idea what to do with her because she was doing things at night that no young woman should do. She wouldn't listen to them. She wasn't married, and they didn't even know her boyfriend, they said, but they assumed she'd run off somehow and Lord knows what kind of sin she was up to.
The Gestapo sat right there in the flat and listened, day after day, night after night, to their abject misery.
And where on earth do you think we went wrong? they asked the Germans. We tried our best to bring up our daughter in the ways of the Lord, on the paths of righteousness, they might have said. We believed that if you train up a child in the knowledge of God, she would not depart--and look now, what kind of ugliness she must have been into. What a horrible disgrace? What's wrong with kids these days?
What's worse is we've not even heard from her. Can you believe it?--we have no idea where she is. None. We don't know who she's with or what she does? She's been rebellious from the time she was 16, they might have said, out of our control, way out of our control. We yell and scream and beg and pray--we do everything, but we can't do a thing with her. She won't listen, never goes to church. She's the prodigal daughter all right, and who knows what shithole she's living in? It's been a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.
And they cried, I bet, right there in front of the Gestapo, several times, I'm sure, because the Gestapo didn't stop coming. They had the goods on this couple's daughter, had picked up damning evidence in a raid on a flat where a woman was hiding a couple dozen Jews right in the middle of the city. They were sure that this fine old Christian couple's daughter was up to her ears in underground work, and they were out to get her.
Sometimes I get angry with God, her father might have told them. Sometime I want to shake my fist at heaven because we believed His promises--we believed that if we brought her up as a Christian she would not depart from His word and truth--and now look!
One night, maybe late, the Gestapo commander got up from the chair in their flat and walked over to her mother, tears coursing down her cheeks. He laid his arm around her and confessed that he knew just what it was she was going through because he had a daughter in Germany who was also just such a problem, an awful problem, he said, out of control. I don't know what to do. It keeps me up at night, he might have said.
Just one of the Bible's many promises, one that may well be filed under the general category of the commandment most often repeated, "Fear not," goes something like this: "my grace is sufficient. . ." It's in the Second letter to the Corinthians.
I've heard it repeated at funerals, sometimes even when it shouldn't be. But the consolation it offers is no less true for our misuse. If you believe in Him, you believe his grace is sufficient.
But this time when I listened again to the story of Diet's parents' continuing deception of the Gestapo, their stunning theatrics, night after night, their command performance, the unending string of bald lies in a death-defying and life-winning cock-and-bull show, I couldn't help think, once again, of the promise of that verse. "My grace is sufficient" even to turn amateurs into seasoned stars of stage and screen.