Thursday, September 09, 2010

Lesson #2: Hold their hands

Hi everyone! I bet you thought my last post should have been titled "Turning my back on my blog" since I have been so inconsistent lately in posting. Honestly, I've been missing writing. I would love to write every single day, and in fact I'm drafting in my head on a daily basis. However....priorities, priorities. You get it, I'm sure.

But I really do want to share another important lesson I learned from Hinds' Feet on High Places before I get on with other things I have to share. Remember where we left Much-Afraid? She was caught between her Fearing relatives and the Chief Shepherd, unsure of with whom to side. Well, she eventually escapes her family, and follows the Shepherd to the foot of the mountains, the starting point of a long journey to reach the High Places. All the while, the Shepherd has promised her two of his best guides to accompany her. He assures her multiple times that these guides are the best and strongest companions He could choose in order for her to complete the journey with success, and at one point asks her to confirm her unfailing trust in his choices. Much Afraid confirms her absolute trust. She believes he has her best interest in mind. She feels something that seems like love from him. She feels safe.

And as they approach the base of the mountain, all that security melts away as she looks upon her companions. The two women are tall, silent, and veiled. Much-Afraid's comfort turns to terror as she learns their names: Sorrow, and her twin sister, Suffering.

"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 is itself so steep and difficult that I cannot climb it alone. Then why, oh why, must you make Sorrow and Suffering my companions? Couldn't you have given Joy and Peace to go with me, to strengthen me and encourage me and help me on the difficult way? I never thought you would do this to me!" And she burst into tears.

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, "Joy and Peace. Are those the companions you would choose for yourself? You remember your promise, to accept the helpers that I would give, because you believed that I would choose the very best possible guides for you. Will you still trust me, Much-Afraid? Will you go with them, or do you wish to turn back to the Valley, and to all your Fearing relatives...?

Much Afraid shuddered. The choice seemed terrible. Fear she knew only too well, but Sorrow and Suffering had always seemed to her the two most terrifying things which she could encounter. How could she go with them and abandon herself to their power and control? It was impossible. Then she looked at the Shepherd and suddenly knew she could not doubt him, could not possibly turn back from following him....Even if he asked the impossible, she could not refuse.

The Shepherd leaves Much-Afraid with the exhortation, "Go with Sorrow and Suffering, and if you cannot welcome them now, when you come to the difficult places where you cannot manage alone, put your hands in theirs confidently and they will take you exactly where I want you to go." But she is not confident, even in the least. Instead as they begin their ascent, she shrinks away from her guides, as far as possible, and pretends not to notice their outstretched hands.

Much-Afraid meets trouble of every kind along her journey. Deserts of loneliness, perilous cliffs, and dreadful storms are a few of the physical trials she endures, in addition to the regular attacks by her relatives who continue to pursue and torment her. She is defeated and discouraged often in the beginning, when she neglects to take the hands of her companions. Part of her journey is learning to trust them, ceasing to resist and fear Sorrow and Suffering.

I don't know if you do, but I find myself in that analogy. My instinct is to resist basically anything uncomfortable or upsetting. I stop seeing the thing at the sorrow and begin to breakdown or feel overwhelmed, instead of looking through the problem to the potential purpose. It takes a lot of self-control for me to underreact to pain, and wonder what else God may have in mind for me or my family. On occasion, I get it right. So many times, I resort to an outburst much like our heroine, flat out questioning why God has chosen the helpers for me that he has.

My take home lesson is to be so consistently close to the Shepherd in my spirit, in communication with Him and His word, that when I walk straight into something painful, I have spiritual eyes with which to see the matter. I don't want my heart to knot up in fear and discomfort, fighting the circumstances until they pass. I believe God has my best interest in mind, no matter what He allows to come my way. And more than anything, I want to humbly accept the teachers He has personally chosen for me, be they Sorrow, Suffering, Pain, Sickness, Grief, Loneliness...or whatever guide points me ultimately to Him. I want to hold their hands with all I have, not shrink away. Because I can't make this trip on my own.

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