Thursday, January 17, 2013

Much-Afraid

what i'm reading

"All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and it's most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about, or can only dimly guess at.  Every inner response of the human heart to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the tree of love."
                                                                   - the Shepherd to Much-Afraid,  'Hinds Feet on HighPlaces' by Hannah Hurnard


So, there's this book i'm reading right now.   (thanks to my friend, the resplendent Bengali Mama, for the recommendation :)  It is really hitting a nerve, and in a good way.   I have about 37 pages bookmarked (obsessive much?) and I'll be darned if there arent 37 more by the weekend.  There are gems in this book, and I do not want to forget their beauty and richness.  
Written in a simple, approachable manner, the book follows crippled Much-Afraid as she meets the Good Shepherd, who woos her and calls her to take the difficult journey to the High places. The Shepherd has provided two guides to accompany her up the mountain.  Suffering, and her twin sister Sorrow.  Yikes!  
The story is similar to 'Pilgrims Progress', in that Much-Afraid must come face to face with many 'foes' on the journey.  Pride, Self- Pity, Lonliness, Resentment... all these the Shepherd helps her to leave behind.   
So, so good. 

Here's the thing- keeping secrets is not something I enjoy.   Especially when they are good ones. Therefore, I have unfortunately taken to making poor innocent people read excerpts of this book upon entering my home whilst I watch awkwardly, waiting for them to laugh or cry or break out in song or something.  

And now, lucky for you, we are going to pretend this blog is my house, and you just came over.  

***

Oh my word, Hi!  Its SO good to see you thanks for coming over loveyournewhairdoblahblahblah oh my gosh READ THIS:  

(... you think I'm kidding.  how cute.  Im not.)


***
....."This" said he, motioning toward the first of the silent figures, "is named Sorrow.  And the other is her twin sister, Suffering.".....Much-Afraid's cheeks blanched and she began to tremble from head to foot.  She felt so like fainting that she clung to the Shepherd for support.
  "I can't go with them," she gasped.  "I can't!  I can't!!  O my Lord Shepherd, why do you do this to me?  How can I travel in their company?  It is more than I can bear.  You tell me that the mountain way itself is so steep and difficult that I cannot climb it alone.  Then why, oh why must you allow Sorrow and Suffering to be my companions?"
A strange look passed over the Shepherd's face as he listened to this outburst, then looking at the veiled figures as he spoke, he answered very gently,..."Remember your promise.  Will you still trust me, Much- Afraid?  Or do you wish to turn back to the Valley, to all your Fearing relatives, to Craven Fear himself?"
The choice seemed terrible.  Fear she knew only too well, but Sorrow and Suffering had always seemed to her the most terrifying things she could encounter.  How could she go with them and abandon herself to their power?
She looked at the Shepherd and suddenly knew... if she were unfit to love and be loved by anyone else in the world, yet in her trembling, miserable little heart, she did love him.  Even if he asked the impossible, she would not refuse.  
"Others have gone this way before me," she thought, "and they could even sing about it afterwards.  Will he who is so strong and gentle be less faithful and gracious to me, weak and cowardly though I am, when it is so obvious that the thing he delights in most of all is to deliver his followers from all their fears and take them to the High Places??" 
She replied, "Do I wish to turn back?  O Shepherd, to whom should I go?  In all the world I have none but you.  Help me to follow you, even though it seems impossible.  Help me to trust you as much as I long to love you."

... He replied softly, "Fear not, Much-Afraid, only believe.  My Peace I leave with you.  My Joy be fulfilled in you.  Remember that I pledge myself to bring you to the High Places at the top of these mountains and that you shall not be put to shame and now 'till the day break and the shadows flee away, I will be like a roe or a young hart on the mountains."
Then, before Much-Afraid could realize what was happening, he was leaping up the mountains, springing from height to height, going on before them....

Excerpt (slightly paraphrased) from 'Hinds Feet on High Places' by Hannah Hurdard

I am sure a lot of us can relate to poor little Much-Afraid.  I know I most certainly can.   I have had a pretty easy life so far, and Suffering?  Sorrow?   They scare the living daylights out of me.  I will stay right where I am, thank you very much.  The thought, no, the promise that these will at times accompany us on this narrow road makes me want to run back to that familiar valley.  However, I have been called to the High Places by my loving Sheperd. Whether Sorrow or Suffering accompany me, I know that He has gone before me.  He has made a way for this cripple to journey up the mountain.  



..."The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."     
Romans 8:16-18, NIV  (emphasis mine :)


..."Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  
John 14:27, NIV



I'm so glad you came over today.  Come back soon, okay?  Then I can force some more reading on you!  That sounds fun, right?  Right??

xoxo






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2 Comments:

At January 18, 2013 at 9:23 PM , Blogger J.K. English said...

Shains! My heart was so stirred when reading those words!! I forget about Much Afraid all too quickly, but she is a good reminder of who I once was, and glimpses of her peek every so often. You make me want to go read that book again!! I love your take and heart on it. oh, and what's a link party? I don't understand the world of blogging as well as I'd like to, and you clearly know your way around:) teach me?

 
At January 21, 2013 at 3:47 PM , Blogger *laura* said...

thanks for stopping by my little blog. we ARE kindred spirits in deed. I must say that I tried reading this book years ago and could not get very far into it. You have inspired me to try it again! xo

 

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