journal entry May 17, 2018
I just finished reading the most beautiful book called Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It’s about a young woman on a spiritual journey to “the high places”, not to heaven but sanctification here on this earth. She was cripple, ugly and her name; Much-Afraid suited her well. She asked the shepherd to take her to the High Places and to make her feet like hinds feet.
My mother read this book to me when I was a child. I didn’t understand it then and I’m sure there were many nights where I fell asleep to the sound of her voice as she read and I missed out on a few pages. But I remembered this book had a special message.
Now that I am grown and live hundreds of miles away across the country from where I grew up, the story in this book seemed to call for me. I would hunt for his book at every thrift store and used bookstore that I walked into. It was like a needle in a haystack. But then one day, there it was. I was looking for it. It was lying face up on the bottom of a bookshelf of a thrift store next to a little sign that read Free Books. Something in my heart hurt when I picked up the book. Like a little prick in the tender muscles of my quickly beating heart. I could hear my mothers voice as I read the title quietly. I immediately was eight years old again and lying in her bed along with my brother and two sisters eagerly awaiting and listening to the story. My eyes were filled with tears as I put the book safely inside my purse. My heart throbbed.
Before moving here I was very afraid. I was afraid that God would not be here; all the way across the country. It seemed so far on the map. So far away from everything I was comfortable with. So far away from all the people I loved. From the people that loved me. I remember praying so many times over and over again, “will you be there God?” I know it seems like such a silly question to ask the creator of the universe because He really is everywhere. But I was so afraid of this move.
“Will you bear this too, Much-Afraid? Will you suffer yourself to lose or to be deprived of all that you have gained on this journey to the High Places? Will you go down this path of forgiveness into the Valley of Loss, just because it is the way that I have chosen for you? Will you still trust and still love me? Asked the Shepherd.
Since I’ve moved here I have been on this spiritual journey. I see God gently shepherding me along. But the pain of missing my mom, dad, brother and sisters have brought days of sorrow. And when I question why am I here, I remember the dark path that led me here when I held the hand of suffering while Jason battled with cancer and sickness.
On the first day of her journey the Shepherd gave Much-Afraid two companions as guides. They were veiled, scary looking creatures and their names were Sorrow and Suffering. Much-Afraid was afraid of these sisters and shrank away from them. But they were strong and she eventually learned to lean on them to help her get through the Valley of Loneliness, the detour in the desert and the challenging slopes when her own two crippled feet couldn’t take her there. At the end of the book, (spoiler alert) a long and difficult journey and upon reaching the High Places, this is what Sorrow and Suffering said to Much-Afraid:
They shook their heads. Oh no they laughed, we are no more Suffering and Sorrow than you are Much-Afraid. Don’t you know that everything that comes to the High Places is transformed? Since you brought us here with you we are turned to Joy and Peace.
Again they shook their heads and smiled as they answered, “no we could never have come here alone. Suffering and Sorrow may not enter the Kingdom of Love, but each time you excepted us and put your hands in ours we begin to change. Had you turned back or rejected us, we never could have come here.”
It didn’t take me long to finish reading this book. Upon reaching the last page, I closed the book and my eyes at the same time. Fat, chunky tears splashed down my cheeks but they were not tears of sorrow. “I see it!!” I half whispered.