Gift from a Friend

I spoke with a dear Seattle friend a few weeks ago.  She gave me the gift of a book recommendation.  May not be your kind of gift but I’m a reader.  I love books!  And not the digital kind.  I need to touch the book, flip the pages, underline, and dog ear my favorite pages.  She has read this particular book several times herself and said it would be a perfect read for me right now.  I took note of the book title to add it to my Amazon wish list.  The next morning at our homeschool tutoring program the family doing the family presentation recommended the exact same book!  I had to get this book.  Derek made a rule that I cannot buy a new book until I finish the ones I have.  So I decided to wait.  However, as I browsed the Barnes and Noble bookshelves a few days before a road trip to Florida I found it.  Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  I didn’t even have to think about it.

I didn’t start the book until our ride home on Sunday.  In fact, I started and finished it.  Habakkuk 3:19 (ESV) says, “God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” Hurnard’s allegory takes the reader on the journey of Much-Afraid with her companions Sorrow and Suffering to the High Places.  I found myself identifying with her throughout the book.  One particular section resonated with me so much so that I stared the page and have re-read it several times.

“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 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 path, 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 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 contradiction, only postponement for the best to become possible.”

Much-Afraid felt as though he had stabbed her to the heart.  “You mean,” she said incredulously, “you really mean 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, even years, before that path leads back to the mountains again.  O Shepherd, do you mean it is indefinite postponement?”

….

As she looked out over what seemed an endless desert, the only path she could see led farther and farther away 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 the apparent contradiction of the promise, and to go down there with me into the desert?”  (Hinds’ Feet on High Places, Tyndale House, pp. 69-70)

We seemed to be in an endless desert.  We seem to be going farther and farther away from what our hearts desire.  The past 6 months have been spent hitting road block after road block.  We’ve seen light at the end of the tunnel a few times but quickly a shadow is cast and there’s no more light.  I was encouraged by this beautiful, classic, fiction allegory.  Will I, do I, love Christ enough to accept this postponement and continue in the desert with Him?  {I won’t give you the storyline in case you want to read it yourself.}  I know through the Word of God that He will use this desert.  This time will not be in vain.  It’s a season of beautiful, painful refinement.  “When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”  (Job 23:10b)

Thanks again to my sweet friend for introducing me to this book.

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