As I come almost to the close of this 3 week+ series based on Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, we find Much Afraid has been resting after she had offered her whole heart to the Chief Shepherd. It has been a peaceful rest unlike any other, but after resting three days…
“…she awoke suddenly, and sprang to her feet with a shock of joy tingling through her. She had not heard her name called, had not even been conscious of a voice, yet she knew that she had been called. Some mysterious, poignantly sweet summons had reached her, a summons that she knew instinctively…”Hannah Hurnard
As I read those words, it reminds me that those who follow the Shepherd, Christ, know his voice also if they follow closely and listen carefully. He desires sweet communion with Him. It is we who are so busy with the dailyness of this life that we are not prone to take time to sit in his presence without rushing so we come to know Him and his voice. How crucial it is for us to discipline our time for that so other whispers or shouts that seek to pull us away from Him are ones we recognize to be false immediately. Isn’t that what John, the Apostle, tells us?
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”John 10:27-30 (NIV)
Christ is so patient with us as we seek to go our own way doing our own things. Even if they are not bad things, they may not be the things He has in mind for us if we can learn to ask and listen for the path He has chosen. Just like Much Afraid, we often are hesitant with our own “lame” feet and fear. But over time I think the author of the book and the Shepherd of our heart reminds us that despite how the path may appear, the path He leads will always be the best one as Much Afraid has discovered.
Much Afraid now seeks to follow the voice she senses has called her, but she can see no way out of the canyon until a mountain hart and hind catch her eye and leap across the ravine and spring up the canyon wall in front of her.
In that moment, she does not hesitate but takes a flying leap and follows them along with Sorrow and Suffering and there in the light of the dawn with the mountains gleaming all around her she sees the Chief Shepherd. Then he holds out his hands and laughingly calls to her, “You – with the hinds’ feet – jump over here.”
And just like that with one flying leap she reached the summit where the Chief Shepherd stood arrayed in his royal robes with a crown upon his head. As she comes before him there is no hesitancy, and she kneels at his feet with abundant joy.
“Then, lifting her up, he continued, ‘This is the time when you are to receive the fulfillment of the promises. Never am I to call you Much Afraid again…This is your new name,’ he declared. ‘From henceforth you are Grace and Glory.”Hannah Hurnard
How easy it can be when we are in the desert or deep valley to doubt Christ’s promises to us. Everything in us can struggle to believe them at some of those times (if we are honest) and it is then we most need someone alongside us with whom we walk closely to remind us of what we already know and yet can’t quite grasp.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.”Psalm 84:11 (NIV)
How could we possibly be blameless? Only because of Christ’s righteousness granted us at salvation because of his great sacrifice to cover the cost we could not pay.
But the Chief Shepherd was not done. He reminds Grace and Glory of the altar where she gave him her heart of human love and longing and tells her to look and see what has happened. To her amazement she sees a flower of love, his love, growing in her heart. He then asks her for the stones she gathered from each of the altars on her way to the High Places. They were never beautiful, but she opens the bag she had carried them in and to her surprise when they fell from the bag into her hands, they were sparkling jewels of every color. As she looks up at the Chief Shepherd, he is holding a circlet of gold and places each gem in the golden setting and then places the crown upon her head.
It was only then she looked up and saw two figures she did not immediately recognize until she saw a familiar gesture and recognized they too had been transformed. When she called their names, Sorrow and Suffering, they shook their heads and told her their names had also been changed and were now Joy and Peace. Truly everything was transformed in the High Places she had reached at last despite her struggle to hold tight to the promises of the Chief Shepherd.
But Grace and Glory was only beginning to see and recognize there was so much more as she surveyed the landscape and saw range after range of even higher places and the call that would now be upon her. Next time, I will share what that call is and look at the lessons she learned on her trek to the High Places as I close the series.