Friday, January 14, 2011

The way up is down....

Today's post is from my reading in Hinds' Feet On High Places, an allegory similar to Pilgrim's Progress, but rather than the the story of man named Christian, this shares the story of a girl, Much-Afraid as she journeys to the High Places.This section really struck me when I read it, probably a lot of us can relate to what Much-Afraid is feeling, to her fears, and to her struggle to trust and follow when she can't understand, "why", but I love the response she ultimately gives.

"....then one day the path turned a corner and to her amazement and consternation she saw a great plain spread out beneath them. As far as the eye could see there appeared to be nothing but the horror of Much-Afraid her guides prepared to take the steep path downward.

"I can't go down there," panted Much-Afraid, sick with shock and fear. "He can never mean that - never! He called me up to the High Places and this is an absolute contradiction of all that He has promised."..."Shepherd," she said despairingly. "I can't understand this, the guides you gave me say that we must go down there into that desert, turning right away from the High Places altogether. You don't mean that, do you? You can't contradict yourself. Tell them that we are not to go there, and show us another way. Make a way for us, Shepherd, as you promised."

He looked at her and answered very gently, "That is the way, Much-Afraid, and you are to go down there."

"Oh, no," she cried. "You can't mean it. You said if I would trust you, you would bring me to the High Places, and that path leads right away from them. It contradicts all that you promised."

"No," said the Shepherd. "It is not a contradiction, only postponement for the best to become possible."

Much-Afraid felt as if he had stabbed her to the heart. "You mean," she said incredulously, "you really meant that I am to follow that path down and down into that wilderness, and then over that desert, away from the mountains indefinitely? Why (and there was a sob of anguish in her voice) it may be months, or even years before that path leads back to the mountains again. Oh Shepherd, do you mean it is indefinite postponement?"

He bowed his head silently, and Much-Afraid sank to her knees at his feet, almost overwhelmed. He was leading her away from her heart's desire altogether and gave no promise at all as to when he would bring her back. As she looked out over what seemed like an endless desert, the only path she could see led farther from the High Places, and it was all desert.

Then he answered very quietly, "Much-Afraid, do you love me enough to accept the postponement, and apparent contraction of the promise, and to go down there with me into the desert?"

She was still crouching at his feet, sobbing as if her heart would break, but now she looked up through her tears, caught his hand in hers, and said, trembling, "I do love you, you know that I love you. Oh, forgive me because I can't help my tears. I will go down with you into the wilderness, right away from the promise if you really wish it. Even if you cannot tell me why it has to be, I will go with you, for you know I do love you, and you have the right to choose for me anything that you please."
~ Hannah Hurnard

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"Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:6,8-1