In this section of our study of Hinds' Feet we’ll
be moving toward the edge of the valley of our earthly
familiarity. All that seemed adequate before in your spiritual
walk will melt into dissatisfaction. If you have spent a long
time in the Valley of your strongholds and co-dependent
relationships, this journey is going to be filled with dramatic
changes in your life!
One particular difficulty confronts every
human being: We all enjoy the comfort of the known. But this
“comfort zone” is a hindrance when it comes to
transformation into Christlikeness. The unknown, especially a
life of obedient trust through the Spirit of God, becomes a
threat to your comfort.
Never mind that you don’t know where
you are going. The bigger hindrance in your transformation
process into Christlikeness is that you’ll face your sin
nature in ways you’ve probably never had to before.
Let’s face it. The transformation
process is painful. For instance, what if all you had to do was
read through this guide and God changed you. That would be
easy! But we know this isn’t the way He works.
In order for your mind, will, and emotions
to take on the character of Jesus, you must go through His
process of repentance. As you venture along the journey of
sanctification, you’ll be confronted by the dark parts of
your soul, that is, your sin nature. This is also when the
demonic voices will do all they can to convince you that you
are unworthy of God’s love. Snide whispers will torment
you that you can never be changed because you fail so often.
Continually remind yourself that our Lord
loved you before you ever knew Him! He hung on the cross for each one of us when
we were lost sinners. As you will glean from the
Shepherd’s loving response to Much-Afraid, He is
delighted to see her time and again choose to continue the
journey. This is the same joy our Lord Jesus takes in you. He
knows where the journey of your life will lead you, and it
delights Him to know that you’re willing to press on.
Don’t listen to the voices of
discouragement along the way. There is a preparation lesson for
us in Paul's’ words, “You
cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you
cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of
demons” (1 Cor. 10:21).
Personalize this admonition: ‘You
cannot listen to both the voice of the Lord and the voice of
demons too; you cannot have a part in both walking in the Lord
and believing demonic lies.’
The quicker you “take captive every thought to make it obedient
to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:
5b), the easier you make the journey for yourself. We’ll
be repeating this verse often on the journey: TAKE CAPTIVE
EVERY THOUGHT TO MAKE IT OBEDIENT TO CHRIST! Bringing your
thoughts into conformity with Jesus will help to speed up your
Some people are more susceptible to
demonic voices than others. Do you find yourself succumbing to
demonic lies and altering your outlook based on their
agitation? Discuss this with whoever is going on the journey
What specific instances can you
recall in which you entertained these voices and responded in a
way that Jesus wouldn’t have?
Your heavenly Father delights in seeing
you grow in child-like dependency on Him. This will be especially crucial if
you’ve been successful by the world’s standards.
Our Father wants all of us to experience His Kingdom on earth.
That Kingdom unfolds in the hearts of His children like the
gradual opening of petals on a bloom.
Our Father is revealing His Kingdom to
people like you and me so that His light in us can penetrate
the darkness of those still struggling in the world’s
system. "This, then, is how
you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as
it is in heaven’” (Matt. 6:9,10). Our Father wants your prayers
and your life to reveal your child-like dependency on Him. The
older you are in the Lord, the more child-like you become in
your joyful trust and reliance on Him. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not
receive the kingdom of God like a
little child will never enter
it” (Luke 18:17).
Chapter 2 Fearing Invasion
1. Much-Afraid woke early... through 4. Oh, I am
It’s wonderful of God to give us
those times of “mountaintop” experiences in which
we are especially aware of His presence or His work around us.
Often during these times the Holy Spirit brings us to tears of
joy and uncontrollable exuberance!
It’s also at these times that the
Destroyer takes special notice of you. He’ll do
everything within his power to rob you of fully enjoying that
moment. In particular he’ll exert painful or distracting
pressure to keep you from bearing witness to others about your
wonderful experience of our Lord’s grace.
We’ve often experienced extreme
de-monic attacks close to or just after a time of tremendous
spiritual exhilaration. Other followers of Jesus have shared
similar experiences of attacks just as they were rejoicing in a
wonderful move of God. When you read the Gospels you see this
same pattern happening to Jesus. Consider the confrontations in
Matthew 12 for example:
Jesus’s disciples are hungry
on the Sabbath and gratefully pluck grain from the field. The
Pharisees ridicule our Lord for their “sin” of
working on the Sabbath.
Jesus enters a synagogue on the
Sabbath and heals a man with a shriveled hand. His loving act
of mercy so riles the Pharisees that they “went out and plotted how they might kill
Jesus” (v.14). Talk
about the “blind” refusing to see...!
Jesus delivers a man from demons,
and the Pharisees accuse Him of deriving His power from Satan.
Sue and I have a pet phrase we tell people
who are attacked while experiencing the wonder of God:
“Keep your eyes on the doughnut, not on the doughnut hole.” Focus on
Jesus and the reality of what He has done for you. Fight to
keep the Destroyer from robbing you of what our Lord has done.
Jesus’s words apply to you: “I
have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have
overcome the world” (John
16:33). Keep your focus totally on our Lord Jesus — on
His unfailing love, His sovereign power, His boundless grace
— as the Destroyer attempts to darken your experience.
Call to mind some of your own
experiences of our Lord’s mighty intervention coinciding
with a spiritual attack. Which memory, the joy or the
accusation, prevailed in your thoughts?
5. The morning wore on and still he had
When God delays His response or answers in
a different manner than you expected, your false expectations can
be your ruin. False expectation is an indicator of your lack of
trust in our Lord. From a heavenly standpoint, times of seeming
delay are opportunities for you to fully prepare yourself both
in focus on our Lord and in worshipful, trusting prayer.
One of the joyful aspects of prayer is
that it reminds you to depend on Him. If your lifelong quest is
to truly follow Jesus, your path is made easier if you grow in
your trust of Him and obey without regard to the outcome. In
other words, cherish obedience rather than concerning yourself with where the
path will lead. False expectation can function like pride, seeking a
particular outcome and growing frustrated and discouraged when
things don’t end up as you expected.
For instance, say God has planned for your
path to go from point A to point B in the diagram above. You want to go
to point C, and since initially the journey heads that way, you
keep focusing on C as the goal. Yet, at point B God turns the
path toward D.
If you’ve kept your focus on Jesus
in obedient trust, you’re free of frustration. You're not
overcome with concern about the outcome because you’re
eager to obey what God tells you. On the other hand, the
outcome-based person is frustrated due to false expectation.
This happens to Much-Afraid several times on the journey, and
we all need to learn from her lessons. Happily, as she gets
closer to the High Places and focuses her trust on the
Shepherd’s faithfulness, her false expectation
The Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew
25:1-13 offers key wisdom for all of us. The pivotal element in
this parable is the oil. We know from other parts of Scripture that oil
often refers to the Holy Spirit. In the parable we’re
told, “The bridegroom was a
long time in coming...” (v.
5). But the wise virgins had prepared themselves. Like them, we
too need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The foolish ones
squandered their time — they lacked oil when it was
No one can vicariously share their
“oil”, the Holy Spirit, with another person. Now is the time on
your journey to the High Places to secure your trust in the
Holy Spirit in all areas of your mind, will, and emotions. No,
you don’t need to scour the town for Him as the foolish
virgins did. You just need a trusting heart to ask! “If you then, though you are evil, know
how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will
your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
Yield your soul, that is, your mind, will,
and emotions, to the Holy Spirit’s control. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with
the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).
He leads, strengthens and empowers you when you choose to
follow! If you’re used to tossing up a quick prayer and
then running off to bring about the answer, expecting God to
catch up with you, you’ll be disappointed.
Sadly, many denominations negate the vital
work of the Holy Spirit in the daily lives of Jesus followers.
Often during our morning prayer time I place my hand on Sue and
pray for a greater filling of the Holy Spirit for both of us to
walk in boldness to fulfill His purposes for that day.
How do you understand the work of the Holy Spirit in
your daily life? How does He reveal His will for you?
How has your reliance on Him
caused you to make changes in your life plans or circumstances?
Would you say that you expect the
Spirit to interact in your life during the day? What anecdotes
could you relate that would evidence your awareness of His
6. They were to determined to overrule...,
7. However, they knew Much-Afraid’s timidity and
The enemy determined to make a “bold
attack while she would be alone in the cottage and the Shepherd
far away.” Often your most vulnerable time comes when you
entertain doubt about our Lord’s loving concern for you,
or when you’re plagued by false expectation. A successful
attack needs just a smidgen of doubt about God’s promise,
an unconfronted fear of someone else’s opinion, or a
touch of self-pity.
When you are being targeted by any of
these torpedoes, it’s time for you to RESIST. Can this
command be any clearer? “Submit
yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee
from you” (James 4:7).
Peter repeats the refrain of your personal
responsibility to, first of all, detect the enemy at work, and
then to stand firm in your identity as one of Jesus’s
family. Look to your Father for wisdom to rightly discern the
nature of the attack. Then turn away from those confusing
thoughts and temptations, and focus on Jesus and His mighty
Particularly call to mind our suffering
family in the persecuted church around the world to help you
count yourself privileged to be suffering trials for His sake. “Resist him, standing firm in the faith,
because you know that your brothers throughout the world are
undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9).
Over the years we’ve encountered
people who failed to resist Satan’s schemes, and their
situation only got worse. The devil knew they wouldn’t
resist — that’s why he attacked! Satan
doesn’t have an unlimited supply of fiends at his
disposal. If you have a reputation in the heavenlies of
resisting spiritual assault, he won’t waste as much time
on you as he will on the ones he knows will give up and listen
to his demons.
Again, the key to resistance is the Holy
Spirit and your ready willingness to call out for His help. The
Spirit’s empowerment and your complete dependency on our
Father make you less vulnerable to attack.
Are you able to discern a demonic
attack and resist it by submitting to our Father and turning
from the assault?
Are there certain areas you have a
more difficult time resisting than others? Are you willing to
ask someone to help you be accountable in that area?
What activities act as a stimulus
for uncaptive thoughts to prevail in your mind? Will you give
up these activities in exchange for the joy set before you?
8. The old Lord himself was actually with
them..., 9. When he had finished...
When the battle line of resistance has
been breached, the enemy will turn the tables on you. Unclean
spirits using the mouths of those who refuse to leave the
Valley will make it seem like you are the one at fault because you’re the
one who’s departing. Remember, Satan is the source of
false accusation. As the apostle John discovered, the attack is
unrelenting: “Then I heard a
loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation
and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of
his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down’” (Rev. 12:10).
Words of false accusation can take many
forms, and some may actually sound plausible to your wavering
heart: “You’re unloving.” “Aren’t
you being judgmental?” “You only care about
yourself.” Any scheme or deception it takes to put you on
the defensive will occur, and this verbal assault will continue
until you resist and call out to God for help.
Look at the misperceived motivations that
justified the verbal attacks on Much-Afraid:
“there must be some extraordinary misconception in her mind.”
“that she had cut herself off from
“she had all kinds of strange notions about their feelings and intentions toward
“giving them the opportunity of
proving that she had misjudged and
Any time you choose to follow the higher
road of wholehearted obedient trust in Jesus as His loving
lamb, you’re going to stand out in stark contrast to
those who are content with complacent religious practice.
People who are operating from old tapes of tradition and
generational religious practices are astonished that you might
actually be hearing from the Holy Spirit and walking in His
power. You must be deluded!
You need to be particularly careful at
this stage of your preparation. We’ve received phone
calls from people who are already going through the trial of
having the tables turned on them. Sadly, a few have given in to
the false accusation and derailed their journey to stay in the
bogs of the Valley.
10. Craven might not be..., 11. The whole
gang talked on and on...
The whole disgruntled family of
Much-Afraid appealed to her that she could change Craven Fear
if she married him. The most diabolical appeal is when you are
told how much you are needed. This subterfuge is designed to either make you
feel guilty or to appeal to your vanity. The ‘vanity
attack’ is used most effectively against people who have
been in ministry or leadership positions in the church.
The ‘guilty attack’ generally
succeeds against women, and against people-pleasing men.
You’ll discover soon enough that when you are devoted to
pleasing God rather than people, those who are
“horizontally focused” will be offended by your
apparent “fanaticism”: “Am
I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I
trying to please men? If I were
still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ...The one who sows to please his sinful nature,
from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit
will reap eternal life” (Gal. 1:10; 6:8).
Have you ever found yourself knuckling
under the sort of pressure that Much-Afraid faced? The
‘guilt attack’ leaves you with awful feelings. We
call it “shlucked”. If God in His great love for
you didn’t intervene when you failed to resist, you and
we both would still be prisoners to the false accusations and
ugly sense of failure!
If you recognize that you’ve failed
at times to resist the enemy’s tactics, know that our
Lord hasn’t turned His back on you. Much-Afraid’s
situation seemed grim. The Fearings were about to crack her
feeble defenses. But then we are told, “Suddenly there
came an interruption...”
In the same way, our Lord will extend help
to you. You may have rejected all His previous offers and found
yourself in hopeless despair. When you finally do call out for
help, you may find yourself embarrassed for not calling out
earlier. But it’s not our Shepherd who is embarrassing
you. Your own feelings of humiliation that come when you
finally cry out for and receive His help are an indicator of
the pride in your heart that has kept you from calling on
What is your perception of our
Father’s response when you feel you have failed Him?
Compare your perception with that
of biblical revelation of our Father’s character. What
are the differences?
Sometimes we view God through
the lens of how our earthly fathers treated us when we failed.
Does this misperception apply to your view of the Father? If
so, repent and ask our Father to help you love and thank Him
for Who He is.
12. The Fearings carefully closed..., 13.
It seemed as though all other sounds...
How did Much-Afraid know that it was the
Shepherd who was passing alongside the cottage? She knew His
voice! She recognized the words of the song from the “old
book” because those treasured words were so much a part
of herself. All of the clamor going on around her ceased as she
focused her heart on Him. Is your heart attuned to the words of truth so
that you’re able to discern His voice in the middle of
your busy day?
Sue: We used to raise sheep, and visitors
to the retreat center loved to bring food to them in the
pasture in the hope that they’d come closer. The sheep
were always ready to scarf down the treats, but as soon as a
tentative hand reached through the fence, they’d scatter.
Yet, when Mike or I approached with the familiar call,
“Sheep, sheep!”, they’d come at a gallop,
crowding around for attention. Every eye was fixed on us to see
where we’d lead them next. The younger ones at first eyed
the older ewes to observe their response. But eventually they,
too, learned to trust us as their shepherds and listen for our
Who stands out as a man or woman of
God who has fed your soul and nourished your spirit with tasty
spiritual food? Who are you currently discipling with the
spiritual food you’ve received?
How do you escape the clamor around
you to find unimpeded quiet times to hear your Shepherd’s
14. As she sat listening... through 18. When
Make a habit of reminding yourself that
your relationship with the Shepherd is always a heart issue, not a
cranial issue. When the Shepherd passed by, “Much-Afraid
knew with a pang of agonizing pain that the Shepherd was calling her...”
This is crucial for all of us to grasp. The pain in your heart
that you’ve hurt someone or let him down is crucial, “because your sorrow
led you to repentance. For you
became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret,
but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Cor. 7:9,10).
We see again that Much-Afraid’s
advance on the journey was borne on the hurt in her heart
because of her love for the Shepherd. Real repentance
isn’t a question of what you did wrong as much as taking responsibility
for the hurt you caused. The sorrow in your heart is the foundation of
When you grieve over the hurt you caused,
your confession gives the offended party hope that your heart
is now right. The heart that
grieves and is willing to change is a heart that is acceptable
to our Father: “The
sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite
heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
How do you feel when you realize
you have hurt or let down someone?
What action does that realization
cause you to take?
19. Gradually Much-Afraid regained... through 22. The
effort of her words...
The frantic young lady called out for her
neighbor, “Valiant! Valiant! Come and help me. Come
quickly. Help!” There is much behind this desperate call
that all of us can learn from. Let’s suppose that Mrs.
Valiant is a follower of Jesus who has a mature understanding
of God’s requirement for righteousness. Walking in
righteousness produces a valiant heart: “The wicked man flees though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (Pro.
Often during times of demonic attack people
reach out to others for help. Consider this:
If a Christian who cries out while
undergoing demonic assault seeks sympathy, then he or she is not looking for real help.
These people want your empathy. Their excuses and rationale
will shift the focus of blame onto the individual they
perceived has hurt them. The person seeking sympathy will
usually call on a “merciful” person. Sadly, the
real fruit of this spurious call for help will be
unsubstantiated slander and gossip.
If a Christian under attack seeks
encouragement to press on and even welcomes admonition,
they’re looking for help that will produce godly fruit.
They’re willing to accept responsibility for their part
in the situation, and to follow through on what God would have
them do. This person is likely to contact an exhorter or
someone gifted prophetically so that they can hear a sure word
regardless of the possible discomfort when they hear the truth.
A good friend found that the telephone was
weaving a web of discontent in her home. Under the guise of
seeking help, countless women poured out diatribe against their
husbands, children, bosses, in-laws. Our friend thought she was
extending mercy by listening patiently and offering comforting
She found, however, that listening to all
that slander roused up agitation under her own roof! Her
children were growing rebellious, and her husband was returning
to chaos each evening. When we shared with her the darkness she
was inviting into her home through these bad-mouthing calls,
she purposed to slam shut that avenue of discord. Make sure you aren’t entertaining what James calls a “world of
wickedness” through the unbridled tongues of others!
On the other hand, what a joy to field
calls from faithful family in Jesus who are pressing on but
just need a little “course adjustment”! How you
receive biblical correction, instruction and rebuke indicates
if you’re a “Timothy” who is willing to make
changes toward godliness.
Who in your life can you call on
who you know won’t cater to excuses or blame? When was
the last time you turned to this person?
Are you currently involved in a
relationship in which someone is presenting to you only their
side of a conflict?
Are you a
“people-pleaser” who listens to unsubstantiated
accusations against a person whom you may not even know? Or,
are you a Mrs. Valiant who gently but firmly redirects your
friend to accept responsibility for his/her part, and then
helps them to press on?
23. Mrs. Valiant hardly knew herself what
it was to feel fear...
Armed with reliance on the Holy Spirit, a
repentant heart, and a quickness to call out to our Lord for
help, your days of fear fall rapidly behind you. The dearly
beloved of our Lord Jesus understand this: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love
drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The
one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
Mrs. Valiant was mature enough in Jesus to
not feel compelled to climb all over Much-Afraid in her fearful
immaturity. Unless you keep in the back of your mind the
dreadful pit of sin from which our Lord Jesus drew you, you’ll be
tempted to respond with exasperated harshness when a brother or
sister stumbles. Your admonition and rebuke should be bathed in
the same compassion our Lord extended to you when you were
still a toddler in trust!
The growth of agape love in your heart, that love poured out to you
by the Holy Spirit, strengthens you to be fearless. Agape love ripens in
you throughout the journey. It abides in you as you seek to
remain righteous, and willing to repent when you fail.
Paul conveys this quest for righteousness
on the journey when he writes, “Since
we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from
everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2
Think back to your first
months/years with Jesus. Can you recall anyone who came
alongside you to gently correct or rebuke you when you tripped
Do you have the loving courage to
come alongside and correct the course of someone in Jesus in
such a way that they are motivated to press on without
condemnation and shame?
Chapter 3 Flight in the Night
1. For hours poor Much-Afraid lay...
Our human nature often prompts us to
project that our Lord thinks and responds to situations the
same way that we do. When you fail to follow through and obey
Him, you may grieve that His love for you has somehow
diminished. This may be especially true if your relational
experiences have been based on “conditional love”
that expects a certain level of performance from you in
exchange for affection.
Let us assure you from personal experience: God loves you just as much as He
always has! In your distress He even devises more creative
means to deliver you.
Learn from the Shepherd. Our Lord Jesus
isn’t focusing on your past, no matter how sordid your
choices have been. He’s fixed on your future and the
glory our Father will receive from your testimony of His
intervention! Can’t you just imagine the firsthand taste
of forgiveness the psalmist himself had gratefully experienced
that prompted him to pen these verses? “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is
from the west, so far has he removed
our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11,12).
Jeremiah as well encourages us with
appreciative relief that our Father’s forgiveness is
complete: “For I will forgive
their wickedness and will remember
their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34b).
God has ordained it within the character
of Who He is to forgive the sins of which we repent, and to
forget them. So humble yourself, turn from the sins of which
He’s convicted you, and receive His forgiveness in
grateful peace that those sins are GONE. Then press on in His
deliverance so that your own mouth may glorify our
It’s important that you be healed in
your spirit of those painful memories so that you can share
testimonies of His faithful forgiveness with others who can
identify with that past sin. They need hope that they too
can turn from their sin and find forgiveness and healing. When
you realize that the sting is gone from your memory, you can
reassure others from your own experience that God will forget
their darknesses as well.
Sue: I didn’t realize just how
powerful my own testimony of our Lord’s healing of our
marriage could be until He put us in proximity of a needy
couple. A new friend’s husband was packing to leave her,
and she phoned me in desperation. As Mike silently
prayed, he heard the Spirit say, “Invite the couple out
to dinner.” I thought that sounded a little strange but I
followed his counsel. She muffled the phone and asked, and to
her dismay, he agreed to meet with us.
At the restaurant, the husband immediately
launched into a litany of her failures. She erupted from her
seat and dashed to the rest room. I followed in close pursuit.
At the table, Mike confronted the man with two key questions:
“Do you love your wife?” He responded he did.
“Can anyone tell you what to do?” He ruefully shook
While Mike was dealing with him, I
comforted the woman and shared how Jesus had taken our painful
relationship and transformed it when each of us owned our own
responsibility for tattering our marriage covenant. She began
to take hope, particularly when we returned to the table and
the husband asked forgiveness for his verbal assaults. She did
the same, and they began from that moment to experience His
grace of healing. Our healed pain brought the light of hope to
a despairing couple. YOUR testimony, like Much-Afraid’s,
can be the laser surgery that rids the cancerous blame and
guilt of their power to sting.
That’s why it’s so important
not to lose the lessons our Lord has been teaching you all
along. Reflection is pausing to consider the lessons you’ve
learned from your past. This can be a powerful means to acquire
wisdom. It can also be a trap of past regret if you choose to
cling to unforgiveness.
Study the three questions below. Which of
the three best describes you? Discuss your answer with journey
Do you ever reflect on your past to
gain wisdom that can help you make changes?
Do you ever find yourself stung by
past regret when you reflect on your past?
Do you choose to not reflect at
2. She woke suddenly..., 3. The shock of
We are reminded again of the heart issue
of our relationship with Jesus: “conscious of an
agonizing pain such as she had never known before.” You
men, in particular, who are steeped in Hellenistic religious
teachings to intellectually grasp the
“God-out-there” may have to plead with our Lord,
“Let following you hurt me!”
The agonizing pain in your heart when you
sin against someone is a healthy thing. Pain in your heart is
there because of love. If your sin and lack of fellowship with
our Lord doesn’t hurt you, then you are a knowledge-based
“Christian.” What you know about God is more
important to you than your relationship with Him.
But your situation is not irreversible.
Remember, this is a journey of transformation. And the one who strengthens you to change is
the Holy Spirit. Keep asking Him for help. Ask Him to help you
feel the pain that your sin and wrongdoing have brought on
others. If you will cooperate with Him, He will soften your
heart and remove the callous layer of protection you’ve
erected over the years.
Do you feel any pain in your heart when you hurt
someone? Do you ever stop to think that your callousness grieves God?
Do you need to pause at this point
to make sure that your love for Jesus surpasses your intellectual
comprehension of His role as Savior and Lord?
4. He had urged her...,5. Of course he
Again Much-Afraid is so consumed by her
own shortcomings that she has no capacity to recall the
faithfulness of the Shepherd. She’s too busy
“navel-gazing” to remember His character. But
thankfully, His thoughts and His ways are so far above our own.
Don’t let old guilt keep you mired in immobility.
Fortunately, there was sufficient love in Much-Afraid’s
heart to keep her going:
“It was the pain in her heart which
was the most awful part of her distress...She could not bear it
if he had gone and left her behind.” Remember, love is a
6. On the table beside her... through 8. The
page in the little song book...
You’ve undoubtedly tasted times of
despair when it seems you can’t even put words together
to cry out to Jesus. At times like that, you don’t have
to think about what to say to Him. He sees the pain in your
heart, and His Spirit can extend comfort to you in the midst of
Much-Afraid knew exactly where to reach
out for peace — the beloved words of truth on her
nightstand resonated with the Spirit’s touch. Are you in
the habit of marking in your Bible the significant dates of rhema when the
Spirit breathes out specific words that exactly meet your
situation? Those times when the Word jumps off the page into
your spirit are a personal message from our Father to you.
They’re also delightful meat to chew on in times of
reflection as you recall the particular circumstances in which
He met you with that response, and how you followed through on
Much-Afraid’s reading stirred her to
action. The words, “And now I
will rise and go — out on the streets of the city, And
out on the broad highway”,
compelled her to overcome her fear and venture into the unknown
to seek her Shepherd.
Sue: During our stay in Israel, we
weren’t sure if our Father wanted us to stay or to return
to the US. We were earnestly crying out for His direction,
willing to do whatever He revealed as His will. Early one
Sabbath Mike got up early to read his Bible. A particular verse
jumped out at him from the account of Jesus healing the
Gerasene demoniac: “Go back
to your home and tell how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:39). Mike noted the date next to the
verse. A week later we went into town to worship. A man from
the congregation spoke on Genesis 32:9,10 in which Jacob
prayed, “O Lord, who said to
me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I
will make you prosper.” Mike
hardly heard what the man shared, as he quickly wrote down the
date and asked our Lord if He was indeed showing us His plan.
That morning when we returned to the
house, our host met us at the door: “We were praying for
you, and God has shown us that He wants you to return to the
States for His purpose to be accomplished!” Our hearts
were at rest. His Word and His Spirit had been made known and
Can you recall a time (or several!)
when the Spirit has leaped within you while you were reading a
passage that indicated a specific action for you to take?
Are you willing today to begin
keeping track of what He tells you from His Word and in prayer
so that you’ll have permanent reminders of His
9. Opening the door, she went out into the
A hundred Craven Fears couldn’t have
stopped Much-Afraid now. That is what love does. When you get a
moment read through Hebrews 11, often called “The Faith
Chapter.” As you read it, consider the love for their
Lord that these “heroes of the faith” had. Perhaps
now these words from Paul will penetrate your journey
motivation even more deeply: “For
in Christ Jesus... the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:
While you can’t
“measure” your love quantitatively, you can
evaluate your own expression of how your love passes from
within your heart onto other people. Answer this brief
“love test” to discern how well others are aware of
your expressions of affection.
10. She could not go...,11. Had she but
Sue and I believe that the Holy Spirit
inspired Hannah Hurnard to hammer home the issue of love. The
love that God gives to us and requires from us is not cognitive
in nature. It can’t be analyzed. Self-sacrificial love is
centered in the inner motives of your heart.
Love and pain go hand-in-hand. If you strive to avoid the pain that love
inevitably brings with it, you’ll lose your love as well.
Often that pain comes at the hands of a person to whom
you’re devoted — your parents, your spouse, your
children, your closest friends.
God’s Word offers special counsel to
husbands in particular about the painful cost of walking in the
steps of our heavenly Bride-groom, Jesus: “Husbands, love your
wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing
with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:25,26). The Greek word for love here, agape (ah-GAH-pay),
is the kind that only the Holy Spirit can give you.
For a man to love his wife as God
commands, he must cry out to God for the love she deserves. If
his love is dependent on her response or perceived worthiness,
he’s looking in the wrong place to love as Jesus loves.
It’s an inescapable fact, guys. Our wives are, and will
continue to be, a source of pain to us as we seek to love them.
But aren’t we guilty of inflicting pain as well? The
admonition to forgive one another applies to all of us!
Do you remember the scales from Chapter 1?
Don’t let yourself balance your guilt for not loving your wife
by blaming her for the hurt she has caused you. You not only
escalate the hurt, you impede yourself from going further on
Our friend Bert in Israel asked me a key
question early in our stay with his family when I kept trying
to tell him all the ways Sue had failed me. “Why
can’t you love your wife the way God commanded you
to?” No excuses, no blame, just humble obedience!
And wives, blaming your husband for his
perceived failures will not balance out your responsibility to
bring your own guilt burden before our Lord. Only He can take
those hurts, if you’re
willing to release them, and
transform that pain and anger into loving affection and
A Christian radio station here in
Colorado Springs airs prayer requests from time to time. Most
are from women, and many pertain to relational difficulties in
their marriages. To my dismay the station airs the actual names
of the people. Are you a woman who airs her family problems
with those who aren’t part of the problem or part of the
solution? Has it occurred to you that this activity is slander?
Are you a husband who continually
asks God for the power to love your wife? Is there evidence in
your your life that His love is at work between you and your
14. Much-Afraid could not speak...15. It
came to her...
Shall we repeat the journey refrain once
more? Keep your focus on Jesus! His foreknowledge includes awareness of what you
will do. You haven’t surprised Jesus yet. Camp out on
this promise: “He who began a
good work in you will carry it on
to completion until the day of
Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:
Only if you fail to keep trusting our Lord
Jesus will you be stopped in your tracks. Trust is the glue
that holds your heart in your relationship with your Lord. HE
never stops extending His loving mercy, but YOU can choose not
to receive it. When you give up trusting Him you grieve the
Holy Spirit, and begin sliding down the slope to breaking your
part of the Covenant with our Lord. As Much-Afraid noted with
trembling heart, “[He] would not leave until he was quite
sure that she really meant to refuse to go with him.”
At this point, discuss with your journey
partner this ongoing challenge: “And
let us consider how we may spur one
another on toward love and good
deeds” (Heb. 10:24).
We’ve already heard from some married couples in which
the wife is putting up resistance to leaving the familiar
Valley for the unknown heights. Wife, if your husband has
already dealt with his strongholds, and if he has or is in the process
of severing co-dependent relationships, then don’t you be
a stumbling block!
We hope you’re not traveling alone
on the journey. It’s such an encouragement and comfort to
have another man or woman alongside to bounce ideas off and to
“spur one another on” in devotion to Jesus. If you
haven’t had a deliberate talk with your companion heading
out of the Valley, now is the time! Trying to press forward
toward the High Places when your companion is wavering in trust
can keep you both from ever leaving the comfortable bondage of your old
nature. Frank conversation is the order of the day — before you get
to the far edge of the valley to begin the trail.
Are you sensing that your companion
on the journey, or even yourself, is having second thoughts
about the cost of what will have to be left behind in order to
17. Just as the sky... through 19.“I am
here,” said Much-Afraid, still kneeling at his feet,
“and I will go with you anywhere”...
Can you repeat the words of Much-Afraid
from your heart to our Lord Jesus right now? Can you and your traveling
companion say to our Lord Jesus together, “I will go with you anywhere!”?
Mike: When we were finishing our time of
research in Israel, we traveled to a small, rustic retreat
center near Latrun, just outside Jerusalem. About 4 AM on our
final morning there I climbed up to the rock-hewn chapel to
gripe to God about why He had chosen me to share the Hebraic
I poured my heart out to Jesus as the
darkness was swallowed by the dawn, reminding Him of how much I
had failed Him. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit prompted me to pick
up a little devotional on the stool next to me. I opened it to
the lesson for that day: “Then
I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?
And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I.
Send me!’” (Isa. 6:
8). Crying uncontrollably, I whispered, “You do this to
everyone you recruit!”
I’ve made an important discovery in
my walk with Jesus. My own unworthiness has stirred in me a
greater determination to encourage others to be prepared and
available for God’s use of them.
Commit to memory the following passage of
Scripture as a good reminder along your way to the High Places:
Not that I have already obtained all this,
or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of
that for which Christ Jesus took
hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I
do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one
thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the
goal to win the prize for which God
has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phi. 3:12-14).
Our Father has called each of us to
“set our hearts on pilgrimage” (see Psalm 84:5).
And as we shall see, the companions He’s chosen for the
journey are designed to propel us onward in trust!
A pilgrimage starts with the first step of
trust in Jesus. Picture yourself as the pilgrim on the journey
in this poem.
STEP BY STEP
“As thou goest, step by step I will
open the way before thee” (Proverbs
4:12, New Translation).
Child of My love, fear not the unknown
Dread not the new demand life makes of
Thy ignorance doth hold no cause for
Since what thou knowest not is known to
Thou canst not see today the hidden
Of My Command, but thou the light shalt
Walk on in faith, upon My promise leaning,
And as thou goest, all shall be made
One step thou seest — then go
One step is far enough for faith to see;
Take that, and thy next duty shall be told
For step by step thy Lord is leading thee.
Stand not in fear, thine adversaries
Dare every peril, save to disobey;
Thou shalt march on, all obstacles
For I, the Strong, will open up the way.
Wherefore go gladly to the task assigned
Having My promise, needing nothing more
Than just to know, where’er the
future find thee,
In all thy journeying I go before.
Frank J. Exley