Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength.

Help me, O LORD my God; save me for your mercy’s sake. Psalm 109:25

O God, the strength of all who put their trust in you: Mercifully accept my prayers; and because in my weakness I can do nothing good without you, give me the help of your grace, that in keeping your commandments I may please you in both will and deed; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

“She bent forward to look, then gave a startled little cry and drew back. There was indeed a seed lying in the palm of his hand, but it was shaped exactly like a long, sharply-pointed thorn… ‘The seed looks very sharp,’ she said shrinkingly. ’Won’t it hurt if you put it into my heart?’

He answered gently, ‘It is so sharp that it slips in very quickly. But, Much-Afraid, I have already warned you that Love and Pain go together, for a time at least. If you would know Love, you must know pain too.’ Hannah Hurnard,
Hinds Feet on High Places

So it happened again. That very clear, specific whisper of truth early in the morning. And very unexpected. Really I was just sitting at the dining room table, feeling a little sad, when the Voice said, “Read Hind’s Feet on High Places.” Really? Really. Unmistakably.

So I rummaged around on the backs of shelves. I actually had a slightly worn copy of the book somewhere, which I had tried to read before on the recommendation of a very respected Margaret, but found it tedious every time.

And this time each word pierced my soul, much like the thorn which the Shepherd slid into Much-Afraid’s heart.

And the book spoke of one whose eyes were on her shortcomings, rather than lifted up to the beauty all around. And one who listened to the pervasive whisperings of her kinfolk, rather than the shining boldness of the Shepherd. And one who looked down in doubt, rather than believing that she could be the beloved of the King.

And a couple of years ago, I was sitting in some airport or the other on one of my accreditation trips. And I glanced over at the guy next to me with a book. “What are you reading?”

He looked up. “I just finished it, and it is for you. God wants me to give you this book.” It was the Song of Songs, a new translation. A slim paperback that has haunted my To Read shelf until now. Because interwoven throughout Hinds Feet is the song for the Beloved, a song of His great love for her.

So I am headed up into the mountains in a week or two for a silent retreat. And I was wondering what I should take with me. Not too much lest I be distracted from what He has to say to me, but something to pull me back onto the path if I get lost. And now I know. The Song of Songs.

Then He pressed the thorn into her heart. It was true, just as He had said, it did cause a piercing pain, but it slipped in quickly and then, suddenly, a sweetness she had never felt or imagined before tingled through her. It was bittersweet, but the sweetness was the stronger. She thought of the Shepherd’s words, ‘It is so happy to love,’ and her pale, sallow cheeks suddenly glowed pink and her eyes shown. For a moment Much-Afraid did not look afraid at all.”


“The High Places,” answered the Shepherd, “are the starting places for the journey down to the lowest place in the world. When you have hinds’ feet and can go ‘leaping on the mountains and skipping on the hills,’ you will be able, as I am, to run down from the heights in the gladdest self-giving and then go up to the mountains again. You will be able to mount to the High Places swifter than eagles, for it is only up on the High Places of Love that anyone can receive the power to pour themselves down in an utter abandonment of self-giving.”