Following Jesus

Keep Your Eyes on What Is Eternally Great

November 20, 2020 by

Eberhard Arnold and his wife Emmy heard a call to leave their successful middle-class life in post-World War I Berlin. They had talked with others about Christian community for years, and now it was time to throw in their lot with people who also longed to live for God and his kingdom right here on earth. They moved with their family of five children and Emmy’s sister Else von Hollander to a tiny village called Sannerz, about an hour’s drive from Frankfurt. Emmy freely admitted there was no financial basis of any kind, either for starting a proposed publishing house or for buying a place to live. It was a leap in faith.

Twenty-five years later, Eberhard faced a serious operation to repair a badly broken leg that refused to heal. While waiting for the surgery, Eberhard wrote what would be his final letter to his wife. Just nine days later, on November 22, 1935, he died unexpectedly on the operating table. At the same time, Germany was under the growing shadow of Hitler. In the letter, Eberhard speaks to the current situation of the men and women who lived with him and Emmy on the Sparhof community, pouring out his ever-present hope for a vision of the life that God wants for his people. These excerpts are both poignant and uplifting:

How small in itself is the life of an individual; how small is the family life of husband and wife with their children; how small also the circle of friends who feel drawn to each other on a personal level; how small are the individual departments like the kitchen or the office; and finally, how small is the whole Sparhof with all its little souls!
But how great are God and His Kingdom! How great is the historical hour of world crisis, of world suffering, and world catastrophe; and yet how much greater is God’s hour of world judgment and Christ’s hour of coming redemption! How burning should be our longing to learn more and more about all these things, to go deeper and deeper, to have an interest in them. And how ardently we should expect and long for the Day itself, the coming Day, the liberating and uniting Day! . . .
Dear Emmy, you dear one, how grateful I am to you that in these nearly thirty years that we together have tried to love Jesus and live for Him, you have always kept before your eyes what is infinitely and eternally great, with quiet, almost unnoticeable steadfastness; that you have never allowed yourself to be dragged down into the petty narrowness of what is only human.

LetterEmbedPhoto by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash


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Ann Morrissey

Ann Morrissey lives in Beech Grove, a Bruderhof in England, with her husband, Dave. They delight in the English countryside...

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