An Unusual Journey - Hinds' Feet on High Places
by Ethel Ashe-Frear 2/20/2009 / Christian Living
A painful trauma in my life led me on a very strange journey to find an answer. This is my story. As Christians there seems to be a teaching taught by some of the churches and believers alike that if we do something wrong we are punished by God. Can't read this book, can't read that book! This was my Baptist background. I found myself in undeserving and constant judgment from people who thought they had all the answers.
I assumed if an educated individual has spent some time in a college or seminary he/she must be a knowledgeable person in his/her field. No, not necessarily so. Some of these learned people "assume" they know all the answers and try to use that education to convince others of their "intelligence."
I stopped sharing my Bible research experiences because those "learned" folks continued to tell me I was wrong; that I was making up stories, or ate too many onions the night before! There are a few that did listen but went away puzzled. I began quietly reading lots of books outside of my strict Baptist teaching to find some answers. I soon learned God's voice is heard in many ways. Sometimes He can speak from a book, a movie, or even in a crisis.
Many years ago, I chose a walk with the Lord to the normal logical mind would not make any sense. A friend brought me a book called, "Hinds' Feet on High Places," by Hannah Hurnard. As I read the words, they had a startling effect on me and changed my life. I read it over a weekend and cried on every page while taking notes drenched with tear stains. My life was lacking everything, there was emptiness; I soon realized it was a spiritual emptiness. How could this be? I graduated from a Bible College.
Much-Afraid, the allegorical character tells of her many trials and tribulations. The feeling of "longing-to-be-loved" was taken out of her heart by the Master Jesus, and the seed of "perfect love" began to grow. Like her, many of us are burdened with sorrow and suffering. Many lives are filled to overflowing with resentment, bitterness, hate, and self-pity. I needed to find out why it was there. What was the cause?
I saw myself as the person "Much-Afraid" in the book. After I read this allegory, I chose my direction. Not really comprehending that it was to be a reality lived and learned in pain and suffering creating a spiritual change to take place inside me. The hindering tormenting attitudes of my mind and heart needed to be transformed. I needed to surrender. Little did I know at the time my personal decision would affect a lot of other people including my children; some good, some not so good.
I was given the verse from Habakkuk 3:19 - "The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places." (KJV) I followed the journey Much-Afraid traveled in the book. When it said, even though that way might seem wrong to me, follow anyway because "I (the Lord) am leading you." I trusted and followed Him and have lived through some very strange but spiritually educational adventures.
Each major trauma in my life produced a change. The Shepherd Jesus planted a thorn-shaped seed of love in Much-Afraids heart and promised that when this love has matured she will be loved in return, her feet will be healed. The story continues.
Much-Afraid was to pass through a final test, "a grave on the mountain," where human love is torn asunder. From this experience I received a "transformed mind" sometimes called a "renewed mind." The scripture verse is Romans 12:2 - "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
This teaching is only a small caption of a much larger story. How in reality a "renewed mind" can change thought patterns. I assumed that all those thoughts constantly bombarding my mind day in and day out were part of "living." I found that when the mind is transformed this pattern of constant unwanted thoughts is removed. It's almost like having an empty head. I have no other way to describe this unusual experience and no other point of reference to give for comparison.
When the mind is renewed/transformed, the heart is changed with agape love. Our Lord keeps it there by no effort of our own. God changes the mind through spiritual growth - as in the twinkling of an eye; this is how it happened. I was free from seeking love involvements with humans; the Eros human love was changed to Agape love. The journey continues.
Much-Afraid had two traveling companions on this journey; sorrow and suffering. At the end of the story, as written in her book, the companions were changed to joy and peace.
"As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him. For who is God save the Lord? . . . It is God that gives me strength, and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like Hinds' Feet and sets me upon my high places." Psalm 18:30-33
As with any spiritual journey, there must be awareness and knowledge of what has changed; God never leaves us in the dark. The instructions and teachings for a transformed life in the Bible are very specific. The teachings of Jesus yes, it's all there. Understanding is the challenge.
Graduate - Baptist Institute for Christian Workers, Bryn Mawr, PA; NRI McGraw-Hill Center for Writing, Washington, D.C. Studied only Wesley Seminary, D.C. & Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL (2 yrs). Completed on-line course Jewish Seminary, N.Y. Past student - The Christian Writers Guild.