Episode 54: From "Much Afraid" to "Much Courage". Living Life From the Heart After 50Feb 01, 2022
Remember 'Much Afraid', the mousy girl with club feet, who lived in the small village of Much Trembling?
We met her in the last blog post. She was pretty 'Much Afraid' of her own shadow and spent her life being controlled by her relatives, "The Fearings".
What she wanted most of all was to stop being afraid.
And to go with her friend, the Good Shepherd to the beautiful life experienced only by those who lived in the High Places. But the journey was long and it would be a dangerous and difficult one.
She would need courage.
And to agree to two other things:
- One was to have the thorn of love planted in her heart, which is a painful thing.
- And secondly, to be willing, to allow two companions, to walk with her as her guides. Their names were Sorrow and Suffering.
She agreed. even though she would much rather have skipped over the pain, the sorrow, the suffering.
But she knew it was the Path.
The Path of life.
And she trusted the Good Shepherd.
I love this story. It's from the book 'Hind's Feet on High Places' by Hannah Hurnard, which was written in 1955. I read it in my twenties when a friend gifted it to me knowing it was absolutely what I needed to lift my heart - and she was right.
In fact, it's a very key part of why today, so many years later, I see life as a Path.
I see YOU - as a heart walking that Path. When you're born, you enter it. When you die, you leave it.
I'm about to share something wonderful with you. I would encourage you to go back and listen to the first part of the story in the last podcast, Episode 53, or read the last blog post if you want to get the full benefit.
How do you reach the "High Places"?
Much Afraid did make that journey. Not to spoil the story for you but, in the end, she reached the High Places.
It was the Beautiful Life. The Sweet Life. The life that is waiting for each of us who are willing to grow, to learn and to give.
Much Afraid discovered that she was never alone.
Her club feet were actually transformed to feet like those of a magnificent mountain goat called a 'Hind'. Amazingly, she could now leap and skip even when she faced the hard times.
That's the metaphor, right? The hard times. They feel like the rocky ledges and treacherous mountain ridges along our Paths.
Her name was no longer Much Afraid. She now was 'Grace and Glory".
And her companions who began the journey with her as 'Sorrow and Suffering' were transformed into 'Joy and Peace'.
What an incredible picture.
The thorn of love that had hurt so much to begin with had grown and become a beautiful flowering plant that was ready to give and to bless everyone around her.
Here's what she says (I'm quoting from the book but topic titles are mine for your insights):
"So for a long time, she sat silent, remembering, wondering, and thankful. At last, she put her hand in his and said, softly, my Lord. 'I will tell you what I learned'.
'Tell me,' he answered gently.
'First', said she, 'I learned that I must accept with joy. All that you allowed to happen to me on the way and everything to which the path led that I was never to try to evade it but to accept it and lay down my own will on the altar and say - 'Behold me, I am Acceptance With Joy'.
He nodded without speaking. And she went on.
2. Give others room to be who they are
'Then I learned that I must bear all the others were allowed to do against me and to forgive with no trace of bitterness.
And to say to thee - 'Behold me, I am Bearing With Love' that I may receive power to bring good out of this evil.'
Again, he nodded, and she smiled still more sweetly and happily.
3. Believe that you are loved for who you are, not for what you can do.
'The third thing that I learned was that you, my Lord never regarded me as I actually was lame and weak and crooked and cowardly. You saw me as I would be when you had done what you promised and had brought me to the High Places when it could truly be said, 'There is none that walks with such a queenly ease nor with such grace as she'.
You always treated me with the same love and graciousness as though I were a queen already and not wretched little Much Afraid.'.
Then she looked up into his face and for a little time could say no more.But at last, she added, 'My Lord. I cannot tell you how greatly I want to regard others in the same way.'
A very lovely smile broke out on his face at that. But he still said nothing, only nodded for the third time and waited for her to continue.
4. Live in the good when bad things happen
'The fourth thing,' said she with a radiant face, 'was really the first I learned up here.
Every circumstance in life, no matter how crooked and distorted and ugly it appears to be, if it is reacted to in love and forgiveness and obedience to you, to your will, it can be transformed.
Therefore, I begin to think, my Lord, you purposely allow us to be brought into contact with the bad and evil things that you want changed.
Perhaps that is the very reason why we are here in this world where sin and sorrow and suffering and evil abound so that we may let you teach us so to react to them, that out of them, we can create lovely qualities to live forever.
That is the only really satisfactory way of dealing with evil.
Not simply binding so that it cannot work harm, but whenever possible, overcoming it with good.
5. Make it your aim to always come back to the High Places
At last he spoke, 'You have learned well, Grace and Glory.
Now I will add one thing more. It was these lessons, which you have learned, which enabled me to change you from limping, crippled Much Afraid into Grace and Glory with the Hind's feet.
Now you are able to run sleeping on the mountains and able to follow me where I go so that we need never be parted again.
So remember this.
As long as you are willing to be Acceptance With Joy and Bearing In Love, you can never again become crippled and you will be able to go wherever I lead you.
You will be able to go down into the valley of the world to work with me there for that is where the evil and sorrowful and ugly things are which need to be overcome.
Accept and bear and obey the Law of Love.
And nothing will be able to cripple your Hind's feet or to separate you from me.
This is the secret of the High Places, Grace and Glory.
It is the lovely and perfect law of the whole universe.
It is this that makes the radiant joy of the heavenly places'.
Then he rose to his feet, drew her up beside him and said, 'Now use your Hind's feet again for I am going to lead you to another part of the mountain. Off he went leaping on the mountains and skipping on the hills with Grace and Glory following close behind, and the beautiful figures of Peace and Joy springing at her side."
You are a Heart. A Beautiful Heart.
Life, my lovely ladies, is a Path. You are a heart with stories of fear in your past.
You have come through so much - so many hills and valleys.
But now you are at a place - you have the maturity, the life experience, the years that can show you where the jewels are.
The jewels of love that you have become to you along the way, perhaps without you even realizing it.
Strengths that are yours alone.
And you are at a place where you can discover your calling, if you haven't already.
You can find where it is that you can use the jewels of who you are, the Hind's feet to show you how to leap and fly.
To show you how to overcome what is hard and difficult and evil in this world.
To overcome with good.
So you can bring wisdom, comfort, strength and hope to those who need it.
That's the purpose of this last phase of life.
Who are you?
What are you called to do to bring - just by being in this world?
Search your heart. Listen for our own Good Shepherd.
Discover how to become the person that can follow that calling, how to be the person, how to take the steps to actually bring that dream into a reality.
Love is greater than fear. To live a life of love is a whole lot richer and a lot more fulfilling than just 'getting old'.
Stay connected. We all need to be connected to a group of people going in the same direction as we are.
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