“Hinds Feet in High Places”
Wednesday Wisdom Well
This well serves a unique drink:
Words that refresh and cause you to think.
I have loved the allegory, Hinds Feet in High Places, ever since I read it my freshman year of college. Recently, the story keeps coming back to my mind so I have picked it back up. You know that feeling when you are convinced something is written just for you? That’s how I feel in reading this wonderful allegory right now. God has been encouraging my heart with the much-needed truth.
I wanted to highlight an excerpt that struck me while reading it the other day. To preface, the main character is named Much-Afraid and the Shepherd (who represents Jesus) has asked her to follow him to the mountain heights. She agrees and they are about to begin their journey.
Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard, pgs 65-69:
“Here are the two guides which I promised,” said the Shepherd quietly. “From now on, until you are over the steep and difficult places, they will be your companions and helpers.”
Much-Afraid looked at them fearfully. Certainly they were tall and appeared to be very strong, but why were they veiled? For what reason did they hide their faces? The longer and closer she looked at them, the more she began to dread them. They were so silent, so strong, and so mysterious. Why did they not speak? Why give her no friendly word of greeting?
“Who are they?” she whispered to the Shepherd. “Will you tell me their names, and why don’t they speak to me? Are they dumb?”
“No, they are not dumb,” said the Shepherd very quietly, “but they speak a new language, Much-Afraid, a dialect of the mountains which you have not yet learned. But as you travel with them, little by little, you will learn to understand their words. They are good teachers, indeed. I have few better. As for their names, I will tell you them in your own language, and later you will learn what they are called in their own tongue. This, “said he, motioning toward the first of the silent figures, “is named Sorrow. And the other is her twin sister, Suffering.”
Poor Much-Afraid! Her cheeks blanched and she began to tremble from head to foot. She felt so like fainting that she clung to the Shepherd for support.
“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 the mountain way itself is 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, to Craven Fear himself?”
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 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; that if she were unfit and unable to love anyone else in the world, yet in her trembling, miserable little heart, she did love him. Even if he asked the impossible, she could not refuse.
…His voice said very softly, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.” Then he added, “Fear not, Much-Afraid, only believe. I promise that you shall not be put to shame. 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.”
…”Others have gone this way before me,” she thought, “and they could even sing about it afterwards. Will he who is so strong and gentle be less faithful and gracious to me, weak and cowardly though I am, when it is so obvious that the thing he delights in most of all is to deliver his followers from all their fears and to take them to the High Places?” With this came the thought that the sooner she went with these new guides, the sooner she would reach those glorious High Places.
She stepped forward, looking at the two veiled figures, and said with a courage which she had never felt before, “I will go with you. Please lead the way,” for even then she could not bring herself to put out her hands to grasp theirs…