Wednesday, October 27, 2010

a recommendation

Hinds' Feet On High Places, by Hannah Hurnard (Delightfully Illustrated and Arranged for Children by Dian Layton)

Excerpt from pages 108-111

"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," she said, "I learned that I must accept with joy every path that You lead me on and everything that You let happen to me.  I am not to try to get away from what You want for me; I am to lay down my own desires and be Your little handmaiden, Acceptance-With-Joy."

He nodded without speaking and she went on.  "Then I learned that I must forgive when others are allowed to hurt me.  I am to say, 'Here I am, Your little handmaiden Bearing-With-Love.'  Then I will have the power to bring good out of the bad things that happen to me."

He nodded again and she smiled happily.

"The third thing I learned was that You, my Shepherd King, never looked at me as I was--weak and crooked and fearful.  You saw me as I would be when You had done what You promised.  You always treated me as though I were already the King's daughter and not poor little Much-Afraid."  She stopped and looked up into His face.  "Oh, King, I want to treat others the way You have treated me!"

He smiled at her with a very lovely smile and nodded for her to keep on.

"The fourth thing was really the first lesson I learned up here, on the High Places.  Everything that happens in life, no matter how crooked and ugly it may seem to be, can be changed if I treat it with love, forgiveness, and obedience to Your will."

"You let us meet with the bad and wrong things that You want changed.  Maybe that is why we are in this world.  You want the sorrow and suffering, the ugly and wrong things, to be made into something beautiful.  You want us to overcome evil with good."

At last He spoke.  "You have learned well.  Because of these lessons, I was able to change you from limping, crippled Much-Afraid into Grace and Glory with the hinds' feet.  Now you can run and leap on the mountains."  

"So remember this:  As long as you are willing to be Acceptance-With-Joy and Bearing-With-Love, you can never again become crippled, and you will be able to go where I lead.  Now use your hinds' feet again.  I am going to lead you to another part of the mountain."

Excerpt from page 113, toward the end of the book:

Then Grace and Glory (formerly Much-Afraid) looked over at the great waterfall, which joyfully sang the water song as the waters poured themselves forth.

Come, oh come!  Let us away
Lower and lower every day.
From the heights we leap and flow
To the valleys far below.
Always answering to the call,
To the lowest place of all.

Suddenly she understood.  She was only one of the many, many servants of the King who had been brought to the High Places.  She was only one drop among the millions of self-givers who could now pour out their lives like the waterfall.

"He brought me here for this," she whispered to herself.

The King nodded.


Buy this book for your children, please!  Or borrow it from your church library.  It may not be five-star writing, but my boys understood every word of  it.  Each night, they didn't want me to stop reading.  Each night, I cried over the beauty and truth of the words.  I grew spiritually, too, while reading it!

Most importantly, it has given me valuable tools and language for speaking to my children about hardships, and about why God allows them.  After reading this book, youngsters will actually understand why they must surrender their will (desires) to God.  Too, it can be reread often, and the concepts alluded to, throughout a child's upbringing and young adulthood.

Children my boys' ages (6 and 8) often understand the concept of salvation, but not that of Lordship.  I have spoken of it for years, but this book introduces it in story form, and I sensed a deeper comprehension in both boys.  I am so excited for them!

Sorrow and Suffering are Much-Afraid's helpers (given to her by the Shepherd (Jesus)), who hold her hands as she climbs to the High Places.  Much-Afraid starts out crippled at the mouth and legs--later to be healed, which is symbolic of Jesus making our hearts more beautiful, after we surrender our will.

Along the journey she meets some enemies (her unsaved relatives), in the form of Pride, Self-Pity, Resentment, Bitterness.

How I wish I had known about these enemies, growing up!  Think about how useful (in Kingdom speak) our children will be, if we teach them early about Lordship, about Acceptance-With-Joy, about Bearing-With-Love.  And about our enemies--Pride, Self-Pity, Resentment, Bitterness--who would stifle the voice of God, if allowed.

Now, there are no shortcuts to the learning that sorrow and suffering afford us.  How I wish there were!  I know my boys will have to go through things on their own, as adults, to fully understand the beauty of sorrow and suffering.  But all the things they are enduring now, as a result of financial strain, fit right into these concepts, and they will remember this time, and these lessons.

This book can be read at any time with young children, but it's especially valuable when your family, or your child, is going through a trial.

I plan on looking for the adult version right away, which I understand is a classic devotional.

Peter was especially blessed, since he deals with some huge hardships--vocal/motor tics, ADHD, Obsessive/Compulsive issues (distortion of religious beliefs and contamination obsessions).

One person some of you know online, who reminds me of Much-Afraid (who became Grace and Glory) is Ann Voskamp.  Ann has suffered in her life, in ways chronicled on her blog A Holy Experience.  Her mother was diagnosed with Split Personality Disorder while Ann was still a child, and went into an institution for an undisclosed amount of time, which left Ann to mother and cook for her whole family, at the age of nine. Her father would not allow the family to discuss the mother's absence or illness.  They lived in secrecy, rather than with support.

Later, when Ann was older, her mother disappeared for awhile, which eventually led to her father remarrying-- breaking Ann's heart.

Also, Ann has agoraphobia, which apparently used to be more debilitating than it is now.  Most of you have probably visited Ann's blog many times, but if not, know that it's always a good read--very spiritual and also poetic, partially because of her signature sentence length (she writes very long and winding sentences, which no one else could get away with.  But from her, it is poetry.).

I don't want to sound like I'm worshipping a person, which we humans are apt to do.  Ann is only spiritually beautiful because of what God has allowed in her life--none of her stunning spiritual revelations or her poetry are of her.  It's all God, using the gifts he has given her to bring glory to Himself.  She has learned to willingly pour herself out for Kingdom purposes.  She walked the path to the "High Places", and now God uses her mightily every day, at home and in the blogsphere.  She is a giant in the Christian blog world, and her post today will illustrate why.

Ann's life work is her family, and only secondly, her writing.  Her most important life lesson to date, that of gratitude, marks the cornerstone of her Christian walk.  She has learned that to deal with our enemies--Pride, Self-Pity, Resentment, Bitterness--we must be grateful.  We must choose gratitude, clothe ourselves in it, even. (Humility finds its way into all her posts, as well.)

It's not a new lesson, but it's a timeless one.  The Christian mothers in abject poverty have no education or speaking platform, but I know they've come to the same conclusion.  Gratitude.  

It heals, strengthens, and endures.

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