After her victory over Pride, Much-Afraid and her companions found themselves along a path that once again faced the mountains. In her excitement and believing she was finally on the path to the High Places, Much-Afraid ran on ahead of her guides as though she had never been lame at all.
But the road ahead suddenly took turns to the right, and Much-Afraid found herself again on a path leading away from the High Places and back toward the desert.
Surely, the Shepherd would not say “no”, and turn here away from the High Places?
Bitterness had been following her on this path and tried to get her to believe the lies he was putting in her head. But there came a storm that silenced the voice of Bitterness, and in the calmness after the storm, Much-Afriad prayed,
“My Lord, what dos Thou want to say to me? Speak–for Thy servant heareth.”
The Shepherd responded with His desire that Much-Afraid build another altar and lay down her whole will as a burnt offering. As Much-Afraid obeyed, there came a spurt of flame which consumed the offering and left a little heap of ashes on the altar.
The Shepherd responded,
“Further delay is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God may be glorified.”
Beauty for ashes.
After the Shepherd left, Much-Afriad and her companions continued their journey on top of the old sea wall, adding another remembrance stone to her bag which she had been collecting on her journey. As they made their way, it was noticeable that a long deferred spring was just loosening everything from winter’s grip.
There was also a stirring in her own heart, and Much-Afraid was keenly aware that something was breaking into new life there. She wondered if the Seed of Love the Shepherd had planted in her heart at the beginning of her journey had taken root. Yet as quickly as she pondered that thought, she was overcome with the possibility that her destination was still far off, and she questioned if the Shepherd’s promise would prove true. At that thought, she was overcome with sorrow.
She did not weep for long, as she caught a glimpse of a replica of the little golden flower she had happened upon in the desert. It had somehow been transplanted and was growing in her own heart. As it came time to place something on the altar, she looked at the tiny swelling on the plant of Love which might be a bud and again might not, then she leaned foreword, placed her heart on the altar and said,
And the flame of fire came and burned up the offering, yielding another stone of remembrance for her collection.
The Shepherd returns with this message,
Much-Afraid could hardly contain her excitement. She just knew that the time had come to finally head to the High Places.
Or had it?
As I ponder the words of the Shepherd to be ready for something new, I am once again amazed at the correlation of this book study to my current season in life. Here I am Lord, ready for something new!