Monday, December 31, 2007

The High Places

"The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places."

Friends, have any of you read the book, Hinds' Feet on High Places? Well, it is a favorite of mine, and I have been re-reading it over my winter break. It is a wonderful book by Hannah Hurnard, and is a representation of the Christian's walk with God. The story centers around Much-Afraid, one of the Chief Shepherd's servants who lives in the Valley of Humiliaton. Her greatest desire is to travel to the High Places so she will be rid of her fears, and her terrible relatives, who despise the Great Shepherd (who symbolizes Christ). What I love about this book is that every Christian who reads through it can relate to Much-Afraid and the struggles she has to deal with. Many of these difficulties are brought on by her own sin, but the Great Shepherd reveals to Much-Afraid that sorrow and suffering must accompany her along her way in order for her to grow truly strong as a believer.
I thought that I would post a section from the book a few times a week. This segment is from the first chapter.

Invitation to the High Places

For several years Much-Afraid had been in the service of the Chief Shepherd, whose great flocks were pastured down in the Valley of Humiliation. She lived with her friends and fellow workers Mercy and Peace in a tranquil little white cottage in the village of Much-Trembling. She loved her work and desired intensely to please the Chief Shepherd, but happy as she was in most ways, she was conscious of several things which hindered her in her work and caused her much secret distress and shame.

In the first place, she was a cripple, with feet so crooked that they often caused her to limp and stumble as she went about her work. She had also the very unsightly blemish of a crooked mouth which greatly disfigured both expression and speech and was sadly conscious that these ugly blemishes must be a cause of atonishment and offense to many who knew that she was in the service of the great Shepherd.

There was, however, another and even greater trouble in her life. She was a member of the Family of Fearings, and her relatives were scattered all over the valley, so that she could never really excape from them. An orphan, she had been brought up in the home of her aunt, poor Mrs. Dismal Forebodings, with her two cousin Gloomy and Spiteful and their brother Craven Fear, a great bully who habitually tormented and persecuted her in a really dreadful way. Like most of the other families who lived in the Valley of Humiliation, all the Fearings hated the Chief Shepherd and tried to boycott his servants, and naturally it was a great offense to them that one of their own family should have entered His service. They did all they could both by threats and persuasions to get her out of his employment, and one dreadful day they laid before her the family dictum that she must immediately marry her cousin Craven Fear and settle down respectably among her own people.

Poor Much-Afraid was overwhelmed with horror at the mere idea, but her relatives had always terrified her, and she had never learned to resist or ignore their threats, so she simply sat cowering before them, repeating again and again that nothing would induce her to marry Craven Fear, but she was quite unable to escape from their presence.

(Much-Afraid then seeks the Shepherd's counsel on the matter)

Through the quiet and peace of this tranquil evening, poor, terrified Much-Afraid came to the pool where the Shephered was waiting for her and told Him of her dreadful plight.

"What shall I do?" she cried as she ended the recital. "How can I escape? They can't really force me to marry my cousin Craven, can they?"

"Don't be afraid," said the Shephered gently. "You are in My service and if you will trust Me they will not be able to force you against your will into any family alliance. But you ought never to have let your Fearing relatives into your cottage, because they are enemies of the King who has taken you into His employment."

"I know, oh, I know," cried Much-Afraid, "but whenever I meet any of my relatives I seem to lose all my strneth and simply cannot resist them, no matter how I strive. As long as I live in the Valley I cannot escape meeting them...oh, if only I could escape from the valley of Humiliation altogether and go to the High Places, completely out of reach of all the Fearings and my other relatives!"

The Shephered answered, "I have waited a long time to hear you make that suggestion, Much-Afraid. No Fears of any kind are able to live there because 'perfect love casteth out fear and everything that torments.' It is quite true that the way up to the High Places is both difficult and dangerous," said the Shepherd. "It has to be, so that nothing which is an enemy of Love can make the ascent and invade the Kingdom...Much-Afraid, I could make yours like hinds' feet also, and set you upon the Hihg places. You could serve Me then much more fully and be out of reach of all your enemies."

(The Shepherd then plants the Seed of Love into Much-Afraid's heart before she starts on her journey)

The Shepherd put His hand in his bosom, drew something forth, and laid it in the palm of His hand. Then He held His hand out toward Much-Afraid. "Here is the seed of Love," he said.

She bent forward to look, then gave a startled little cry and drew back. "The seed looks very sharp," she said shrinkingly. "Won't it hurt if you put it into my heart?"

He answered very gently, "It is so sharp that it slips in very quickly. But, Much-Afraid, I have already warned you that Love and Pain go together, for a time at least. If you would know Love, you must also know pain too."

Much-Afraid looked at the thorn and shrank from it. Then she looked at the Shepherd's face and repeated His words to herself. She suddently stepped forward, bared her heart, and said, "Please plant the seed here in my heart."

His face lit up with a glad smile and He said with a note of joy in His voice, "Now you will be able to go with me to the High Places and be a citizen in the Kingdom of my Father."

(The sharp Seed of Love has now been pressed into Much-Afraid's heart)

"Thank you, thank you," [Much-Afraid] cried, and knelt at the Shepherd's feet. "How patient You are. There is no one in the whole world as good and kind as You. I will go with You to the mountains. I will trust You to make my feet like hinds' feet, and to set me, even me, upon the High Places."

I am so much like Much-Afraid. I have so many fears and doubts in my mind, and I forget at times that the Lord is greater than all my worries. At times I tremble and cower in the corner when all my Fearful relatives come knocking at my door. What is comforting is that Christ is able to take away all my fears if I only call on Him and lean on His strength. Much-Afraid begins her journey as a weak and scared servant of the Most High, but her journey to the High Places prunes her into something more beautiful than she could ever imagine. Throughout our entire lives as Christians, the Lord is shaping us and leading us to the High Places, and helping us to grow strong by allowing sorrow and suffering into our lives. If we only let Him mold and shape us into His beautiful instruments instead of leaning on our own strength, we will leap with Him on the High Places.

Draw me- I will run after Thee,
Thou art my heart's one choice,
Oh, bring me to Thy royal house,
To dwell there and rejoice.
There in Thy presence, O my King,
To feast and hear Thy voice. ~Much-Afraid after the Seed of Love has been planted in her heart.


Mrs. Elliott said...

This is one of my favorite book so fall time. Each time I read it there is something new that the Lord prompts me to understand about my walk with Him. Thank you for bringing it to mind again.

Barbara C. said...

I've never read that book, but you've whet my appetite for it! Perhaps I can borrow it from you when you're done?? The quotes you gave are well worth thinking upon! I hope you have a blessed 2008!! How wonderful to be able to say, "For me... to live... is Christ"!

Rachel said...

I like that book a lot as well. Though it has been quite a while since I read! (I might need to change that)

Happy New Year!!!

Beka said...

This is one of my absolute favorite books. I am always blessed afresh every time I read it. Thank you for sharing a part of it today.

Happy new year!

Kelsey Hough said...

Hind's Feet on High Places is one of my favorite books. I don't normally reread books, but I've read this one several times.

I can relate so much with Much-Afriad. :-)


Maxine said...

This was so interesting, Sara. I have the book here and never read it. As much as I love Pilgrim's Progress, I should have read this by now. For some reason, I seem to be short on reading time. Anyway, this was a lovely post.

Beverly said...

What a LOVELY excerpt. I am definitely going to reread this book.
I can't wait for you to post more excerpts.
" If you would know Love, you must also know pain too." This is so true - something to meditate on in the days ahead.