Acceptance With Joy
Recently I read the wonderful Christian book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, and found it very insightful. The book is about a disfigured and lame woman named Much-Afraid who chooses to trust in the promises of the Shepherd (God) even when they seem unattainable. The Shepherd promises Much-Afraid that one day she will no longer be crippled but will have Hind’s feet and live on The High Places with him. Much-Afraid desperately wants a new life and is overcome with joy and anticipation for that day. However, the journey to The High Places requires Much-Afraid to travel through terrifying and desolate lands while battling her old enemies Resentment, Pride, Bitterness, and Self-Pity.
One of the terrifying and desolate lands Much-Afraid journeys through is a desert which is in the opposite direction of The High Places promised to her. Filled with discouragement she says to her companions, “The Shepherd has called me to High Places. We must find some path which goes up, but certainly not down there. This is an absolute contradiction of all that he promised.”
Have you ever been there at the edge of a desert saying “Lord this is all wrong, I’m your child and you promised to take care of me? This isn’t what you promised; my life is supposed to be different.” I have, and like Much-Afraid I was sure the path I was on was wrong. But it wasn’t the path that was wrong; it was my attitude and perception of the situation.
Much-Afraid was overcome with discouragement and felt being in the desert was a sign that the Shepherd would not keep his promises. In desperation she calls out to the Shepherd to come and help her, and he does. The Shepherd comforts her with his presence and teaches her about the necessary work accomplished in all his followers while they cross the desert. It is significant that the Shepherd didn’t remove her from the desert but comforted her during her journey. With His loving guidance Much-Afraid learns to accept the desert and finds beauty in the dry and desolate land.
One unexpected item of beauty Much-Afraid found in the desert is a solitary flower growing up from a crack in the rocks where a trickle of water dripped down from above. Upon seeing the flower she asked if it had a name, the flower answers, “Acceptance with Joy”. That is the lesson we need to learn. How to accept with joy the path God has placed before us even when it appears to be heading in the wrong direction. How wonderful it would be to grow like the little flower, even when we are in a desert, finding our sustenance in the Shepherd’s living water and accepting our situations with joy.
God allows us to go through deserts so we can grow spiritually. Deserts give us an opportunity to battle with our pride, self-pity, resentment, and bitterness, along with our self-created images of what our life should be like and lay them down at God's feet. Yes, it is painful but the outcome is beautiful.
Debora Shelford Hobbs