Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bearing the Cost

Recently I have been re-reading the classic Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. My dad first read the book to me when I was quite young, and then again around high school. I have read it myself a couple of times also. I learn something new (or in a deeper way) every time I read it.

Hinds' Feet is an allegory of sorts, with the main character, Much Afraid, allowing the Shepherd to plant the seed (thorn) of love in her heart and lead her on a journey to the High Places. Her first check comes when the Shepherd begins to lead her directly away from the mountains and through a vast desert. Here she learns the first lesson in love, Acceptance with Joy. In the desert sand where a few drops of water happen to splash from a spring, there is a single golden flower persevering; its name is Acceptance with Joy.

As Much Afraid continues her journey through the desert she does not turn toward the high places, but is led toward the Sea of Loneliness. There are many lessons to be learned here and in the next part of the journey, but finally the Shepherd leads her toward the mountains again. Now she has circuited the range and finds herself at a sheer, seemingly impassable precipice. The Shepherd tells her that to make her lame feet like hinds' feet she has to come this harder way. He promises her that she will learn the next lesson of love as she climbs the Precipice of Injury (not to be confused with Mt. Reviling or Persecution) with her strong companions, Sorrow and Suffering.

On the second day of her journey, in a lonely cleft in the sheer rock, Much Afraid meets a blood-red flower, glowing in the sunrise. The flower is named 'Bearing the Cost' (though some call it 'Forgiveness'). At one point it says,

"I was separated from all my companions, exiled from home, carried here and imprisoned in this rock. It was not my choice, but the work of others who, when they had dropped me here, went away and left me to bear the results of what they had done..."

In spite of ill treatment, the little flower continues that in this lonely and desolate place there is nothing to distract it from its Love, the sun.

"He shines upon me and makes me to rejoice, and has atoned for me all that was taken from me and done against me. There is no flower in all the world more blessed or more satisfied than I, for I look up to [my Love] as a weaned child and say, 'Whom have I in heaven but Thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire but Thee'."

I just loved the little flower's response to adversity and loneliness:
Now there is no distraction from my Love. There is no flower in all the world more blessed or more satisfied than I.

What an attitude to have! Rather than seeing our circumstances as hard, impossible, and solitary, we can both accept them with joy and bear the cost. We find that in the isolated places there is nothing to distract us from our Love: Jesus.

The passage that Bearing the Cost quotes from is Psalm 73. I have expanded it below for the sake of having some context. At the beginning of Psalm 73 the psalmist objects that the wicked prosper and do not seem to experience pain or poverty. However, like a sonnet there is a volta, a turning point; the writer thinks these things
until he goes in to the Sanctuary of God. Then he realises his error and misunderstanding. He finishes with these thoughts (vv 23-28):

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;

You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works.

Indeed, may I declare in trials and loneliness that there is now nothing to distract me from my Love. May I discover that there is no person in all the world as blessed and satisfied as me. And may I truly be able to declare that there is none that I desire besides Jesus.

~ Johanna


  1. so, so good. :) thank you dear. I think I ought to read the book...

  2. You should read it! It is enjoyable, challenging, and encouraging.

    Love you!
    ~ Jody