Much-Afraid, tightly roped between her two companions, Sorrow and Suffering, begins her ascent up Mount Injury. Her five enemies are sitting on rocks below, gazing up at them with grimace and spite.
Do you ever feel the glare of your enemies as you ascend the mountain that the Lord has called you to climb? I know that I do. My enemies — unworthiness, not good enough, not strong enough, etc. are constant onlookers every time the Lord calls me to climb. Similar to when Much-Afraid encountered Self-Pity throwing stones at her, I can almost feel the onslaught of my enemies’ stones as they target me and attempt to throw me off course.
But I do not forget the Shepherd’s promise, that He will not leave me, no matter what. And Much-Afraid chooses to hold fast to that promise as well. Sure, she allows her gaze to drop, to look upon her enemies, in a moment of weakness. But the Shepherd continues to come, time and time again, to gird her with strength for the long, hard journey ahead.
Much-Afraid and her companions come to the resting place that the Shepherd had spoken of, a little cave where they were to pass the night. He had prepared it for them, complete with flat rocks for sitting chairs, and piled sheepskins where they could lay down and rest.
Oh how the Shepherd takes care of us!
With every victory, there is a moment of weakness, and as the morning sets, Much-Afraid goes to the entrance of the cave and looks upon a scene of utter desolation before her. There is nothing in front of her but an empty plain and sea, towering cliffs above her and jagged rock below. Oh how fast her mind drifts from the provision of the cave to the emptiness of what she is about to endure.
Just when she had thought that nothing good would ever grow there in that desolate place, Much-Afraid happens upon a single plant peaking through the crevice of the rock. It had but two or three leaves and one fragile stem on which was one flower, blood red in color.
Much-Afraid approached the flower, and asked her name. The flower replied,
It was then that Much-Afraid remembered the words of the Shepherd, “On the way up the precipice you will discover the next letter in the alphabet of Love. Begin to practice it at once.”
It was here in my reading where my mind drifted to the various ways the Shepherd is asking me to “bear-the-cost” and forgive. Oh how I want to follow in the way of this flower,
And that my own response would be as Much-Afraid’s,