Out of the Salt Mine

If you’ve seen the movie The Monuments Men but have never read the book, you don’t know the half of this heroic true story. A ragtag bunch of museum curators and art historians are conscripted by the US Army to go to Europe, find all the priceless treasures Hitler and the Nazis have stolen, and restore them to their rightful owners. Problem is no one knows exactly what has been stolen or where it is being hidden. In the face of impossible odds, these amazing men managed to repatriate thousands of priceless works of art hidden in castles and mines throughout Europe.

It was dark as I lay in bed listening to the audiobook version of this story. After believing the salt mine at Altaussee had been destroyed, and then learning only the access tunnel had been blown to keep the Nazis out and the art safe, the men of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA) began to gently pick at the rocks that lay between them and one of the greatest caches of fine art on earth. When they broke through, light fell on the face of the Bruges Madonna. It was as if she had been waiting for them.

As I lay in bed and let the story unfold, my heart stirred. I could imagine the great paintings and sculptures, covered in dust, as they saw light again. I could feel the MFAA soldiers gently carry them out into the warm world. I could sense their joy and that of their saviors as they were returned home safely.

A few days later, I wrote in my prayer journal: “The sadness is so profound today. So deep.”

This is what I heard in reply:

I know. I see the darkness. I feel what you feel. I am intimately acquainted with your grief. I am here. You are not alone. You are as those lost treasures in Monuments Men. You’re a priceless work of art stuck in a salt mine where only I can see. Most people don’t even know you’re there. They can’t see you, touch you. It’s dark and it’s lonely and you feel worthless.

You’ve been damaged by the mistreatment of others. They don’t know how deeply their carelessness has hurt you. But you will not stay here forever. You will not be destroyed. With gentle hands and steady step I will carry you out. The light will shine on you again. Lift up your head. Your redemption is near.

When I wrote these quiet promptings from a God I had always tried to follow but had never really known, I was unsure and afraid. Would He be gentle? Or was I about to experience something frightening and difficult? What did He mean? Dare I hope that this dark night would end?

I could never have imagined what He had planned next.


Photo Credit: aaa.si.edu

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