It probably seems like it’s taking
us a long time to get out of the Valley and onto the path that
leads to the High Places. Unfortunately, in real life, few
Christians ever leave the Valley of Their Strongholds. This is
especially true if your “Christianity” has been
forged on positional- and activity-based relationships.
If you’re going through this Hind’s Feet guide with a spouse or close friend, the issues that affect
your sanctification, that is, your transformation into
Christ-likeness, may not have been part of your normal
Christian conversations before. It’s easier for many of
us to talk about “religious things” than probe the heart issues that
lead to lasting life transformation.
Become Comfortable in Sharing Your Heart
The Hebraic form of learning takes place
when you speak with someone else. An interaction occurs as you share
ideas and exchange feedback with another person. As you
dialogue, you are “communicating” — sending
and receiving messages and information that can be life-changing.
The New International Version of the Bible
uses the words reason, reasoned together, or reasoned with as a means of conveying the idea of
dialogue with someone. Dialogue infers a give and take, far
different from the monologue of a sermon or lecture. Read these
examples with the image in your mind of attentive individuals
actively sharing back and forth as they digest what each other
“‘Come now, let us reason together,”
says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they
shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they
shall be like wool’” (Isa.
1:18). Through this interchange with God, a sinner can be
changed as he realizes just how utterly sinful his sins really
are. In light of that revelation, his heart as it changes can
receive cleansing and purification.
“As was his custom, Paul went
into the synagogue [a familiar forum for discussion for Paul],
and on three Sabbath days he reasoned
with them from the Scriptures [the
standard against which all discussions were weighed]” (Acts 17:2).
“So he reasoned in the synagogue
with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by
day with those who happened to be there” (Acts 17:17). Notice that dialogue about
spiritual matters wasn’t confined within synagogue walls.
As people went about their normal workday affairs in the public
market, their interest in the was accompanied by pursuit with one
“They arrived at Ephesus,
where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the
synagogue and reasoned with the Jews” (Acts
18:19). Even in a city populated by pagan Artemis-worshippers,
the apostle knew he could find in the synagogue those who were
interested in dialoguing about truth.
Contemporary Americans are often
threatened by dialogue. So accustomed to being spoken at in
classrooms, in church services, by the media and the Internet,
most people experience sweaty discomfort if put into a
situation in which exchange of ideas might make them reconsider
their own viewpoint. Even your concept of “faith”
may make it all the more difficult to believe that you might be
Most Middle Easterners, for instance, find
reasoning together an envigorating “sport” and
spend hours exchanging ideas, while most western Americans are
reluctant to venture beyond “Hi, how are you?”
Hesitation to get involved in anyone else’s life or
discuss their deeply-held beliefs reveals a serious isolation
mentality that overshadows so much of this culture. Little
wonder that even Christians can talk about “one-anothering”
but experience so little of it!
Many Christian married couples find it
difficult to discuss the heart changes God wants to make in
each partner. Unless there is mutual trust, it’s
embarrassing to discuss the dark areas of your soul that our
Lord wants to change. Yet this is the breakthrough in your
relationship that must occur if you’re going to press on
The major hindrance to communication
exchange is the lecture format that so many Christians have
associated with Bible teaching. When you’re used to
sitting quietly in a pew or Sunday school classroom listening
to someone more knowledgeable than you are, the information
that’s offered gets locked into that format. If
you’ve heard it under the steeple, that’s where it
gets filed in your brain. Without the role modeling of mutual
communication when presented biblical truth, you’ll be
reluctant to share that information outside of the environment
in which you heard it.
How often do you dialogue with others about the goal
of applying biblical truths in a way that shows our Lord has
been changing your heart? If your experience with biblical truth has
been limited to input without output, then you’re probably frustrated on two
fronts: little change in your life, and powerlessness to share
with others any changes God is making in you.
Chapter 4 Start for the High Places
1. It was early morning...
Can you feel the contented joy and
anticipation of Much-Afraid as she and the Shepherd begin their
new day’s journey amid the beauty of the valley streams
and rainbow-hued flowers?
There’s an important lesson here.
Each new day is your opportunity to choose to notice the details of His grace all around you! If at daybreak you’re already overwhelmed
by the very thought of what you have to get done before you hit
the pillow again, you’re guaranteed to miss the subtle
nuances He’s designed to encourage and strengthen you.
Much-Afraid was on the way to reaching her
heart’s desire on the High Places, a wonderful goal. But,
because of her awareness of the very real presence of the
Shepherd at her side, she was able to relish the details of His
creation. She wasn’t target-fixated on the outcome, so she could enjoy the
Are you so overcome by the perceived
magnitude of your life’s responsibilities that
you’re missing out on His special touches that are meant
to remind you of His nearness? When was the last time you
paused to bask in a brilliant sunrise or sunset and thanked Him
for making you in His image to appreciate such beauty?
Sue: Our retreat center was set high on a
hill overlooking a vast carpet of stately trees and lush
pastures. Once a bald eagle even soared over our deck! But do
you know, sometimes weeks would go by and I’d realize I
hadn’t stopped even once to praise our Lord for the
privilege to breathe in His ever-changing touch on the land.
What a waste, an unopened gift from my Beloved! I’d been
too busy doing to pause and be.
Look for His touch, savor it, and when
you’ve experienced it, share it with someone else that
day! Our Lord has set us an example of keeping track of details
— let’s do the same!
Are you caught up in a rat race of
life-consuming schedules and responsibilities that have robbed
you of daily joy and peace? What changes can you identify that
will increase your “appreciation factor” of our
Lord’s gracious touches?
Think about the last time you
really noticed God’s hand at work. Maybe it was a
laughing child, a divine appointment, whatever. Are you willing
to recall these gifts He’s revealed so that you can share
them with someone else for His praise?
2. Once the Shepherd stooped...
One of the important truths this chapter
stresses is humility. Choosing to humble
yourself is the foundational
element for you to grow in agape love. A humble person considers others before
himself: “Do nothing out of
selfish ambition or vain conceit, but
in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
If you are truly humble, you fully
appreciate what Jesus accomplished for you on the Cross.
There’s no way you can hold onto a record of wrongs
someone else has committed against you —Your heart
understands the vast array of offenses you’ve committed
that He’s forgiven you! It is pride that holds onto the sting of offense and longs
for retribution against your offender. But humility purposes to
forgive so that our Lord is free to heal your heart from the
pain of the offense.
The Shepherd tells Much-Afraid, and each
one of us, “Humble yourself...” Our desire and
quest to walk humbly before our God is the beginning of true worship of
our Lord Jesus.
What an awesome privilege to be able to
delight our Father through walking in humility! “For the Lord takes
delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation” (Psa. 149:4).
In return for our humble trust, He delivers us.
Can you honestly stand before the Creator
of all that is and not bow in humility because of Who He is? “‘Has not my hand made all these
things, and so they came into being?’ declares the Lord.
‘This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word’” (Isa. 66:2). So as we go on through this
chapter, keep humility in mind.
Mike: Do you remember my testimony in our
book Demolishing Strongholds? Let me repeat it because it’s pertinent
to our discussion here.
I first became acquainted with strongholds
and their influence in people’s lives while we were
administrating a church retreat center in Connecticut from 1983
to 1993. During a conference held on Long Island in the summer
of 1989, a prophecy was given to the denominationally diverse
participants concerning southern New England. The prophecy
stated, “God is looking for a faceless people who are humble,
with only the face of Jesus shining through. On November 30,
1989, the Lord is going to use these people in something
special He is about to do.” Throughout
the fall of 1989 I was haunted by the question, “Was I humble and
faceless — would I be one of those the Lord was going to
As I read my Bible on the morning of
November 29, 1989, one day before the prophesied date, I
pondered Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (3:16-19),
”I pray that out of his
glorious riches he may strengthen
you with power through his Spirit
in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts
through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to
grasp how wide and long and high
and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that
surpasses knowledge — that
you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of
As I sat there quietly in my recliner, I
was convicted that the amount of the love of Jesus that I had
ever felt, even after many years in ministry, was about the
size of a decimal point. The love I ‘d perceived had no
depth, breadth, or width to it, and it certainly did not
surpass my knowledge. Later that day I was playing golf with my
close friend Casey. As we walked along the course I shared with
him my deep conviction from my reading in Ephesians that
morning. I told him with determination, “I’m
not going on in ministry until I feel this height, depth, and
breadth of the love of Jesus.” He joined with me in
prayer right where we stood.
The next morning at 8:00 on November 30,
1989, I received a phone call from a pastor who lived about an
hour away from us. In a somewhat irritated tone he began,
“Mike, what’s your problem? God woke me up at 4:00
this morning and told me to call you at 8:00 AM to tell you
that He had heard your prayer.” When I explained to him
my prayer on the golf course the day before, we both sensed
that this was the reason the Lord had awakened him earlier. I
continued in my ministry, waiting for God to show me the next
Today, the followers of Jesus who are
really applying the different facets of the Hebraic Restoration
in their walk with Him are finding out just how humble and faceless they need to be for Jesus to shine through their lives. Nothing
in Hellenistic Christ-ianity had ever demanded so much of them
before. What was once external
religious form has now become internal heart-rending change.
What opportunities has our Father
raised for you to taste humility?
How would you recognize if you were
“nameless and faceless”, available for His special
3. Much-Afraid looked at him earnestly...;
4. The look the Shepherd turned on her...
Your first lesson in growing in humility
is your willingness to serve others without needing to be
recognized or praised. This bears repeating:
Your first lesson in growing in humility
is your willingness to serve others
without needing to be recognized or praised.
Jesus certainly hammers home the blessing
of secret service when you walk in His steps:
But when you
give to the needy, do not let your
left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your
giving may be in secret. Then your
Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love
to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to
be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their
reward in full. But when you pray, go
into your room, close the door and pray to
your Father, who is unseen. Then
your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt.
Just as the flowers released their
sweetness when they gave themselves underfoot, so, too, you
give yourself sweetly when you quietly help the needy in
tangible ways and intercede for others in secret. Have you ever
experienced the joy of being a “secret answer” to
Perhaps there’s a need among your
various relationships that you can answer anonymously. Then you
can share the delight of the recipient who had no idea it was
you who met that need! (Think “bag of groceries on the
doorstep, a behind-the-scene mortgage payment, paid-for
babysitter”, whatever the Spirit tells you!)
A year after Sue and I gave our lives to
Jesus 26 years ago, we found out by accident that a Navy
Chaplain with whom I’d once served had asked his entire
congregation to faithfully pray for our salvation every Sunday
That example inspired Sue and me to keep a
lengthy list of people we intercede for, a variety of people.
Some are family and friends, others a result of a one-time
meeting through which the Holy Spirit prompted us to pray for
them and their families. The Spirit has prompted us to pray
daily for the Bin Ladens and Husseins and the Netanyahus their
families because Jesus died for them as well. And who can doubt
our Father’s loving power to get people’s attention
when they’re being lifted before Him!
During our retreat center days we met some
of the most humble people who were intercessors. We don’t
mean the showboats who run around today making much of their
intercessory ministry. I’m talking about the ones whom
Satan really despises, the faithful Jesus followers who pray
without any need for personal recognition. This group is
probably the most demonically assaulted of all Christiandom,
and yet they keep on praying for
others. You may not appreciate the
people who are praying for you and what they’re battling in the
heavenlies until God breaks through.
Do you intercede for others on a
daily basis? Are you likelier to pray if others are involved in
corporate gatherings? If so, why?
Do you begin your day gratefully
praising Him and rejoicing in your humble dependency on Him?
5. I must tell you a great truth...
True humility entails a deep desire for
anonymity. The Shepherd captures the beauty of the secret
things done in your heart when He says, “All the fairest
beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its
most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows about, or can only dimly guess at. Every inner response of the human heart to
Love and every conquest over
self-love is a new flower on
the tree of Love.” What wonderful words to find
satisfaction in knowing that only you and our Lord are aware of
your kindest deeds!
Mike: During our retreat center days I was
privileged to spend chunks of time with men. Time and again I
shared the importance of obedience no matter the cost:
“A Christian man does what God
requires of him, regardless of how he feels about it.”
This is the manly obedience for which
Abraham was esteemed. How many of you would walk your
child(ren) to an altar to sacrifice them as they carried the
wood for the fire? Would you even be willing for your son or
daughter to head for Afghanistan or Africa to serve the
destitute who need Jesus?
Recently I spent time with two men with
whom I’ve had a close relationship for several years. To
my inner joy they both expressed how much I’ve helped
them stop being “Momma’s boys.” Both of these
guys are over 40. The Momma’s boy epidemic in this
country is the fruit of effeminized public education and the
absence of meaningful male role models/mentors in Christiandom.
A Momma’s boy:
1. Is always looking for recognition when
he accomplishes something. “Momma, Momma, look at
me!” still controls his motivation. (“Momma”
might be his wife, his boss, even his buddies.)
2. Seeks out empathy when his feelings are hurt. He’ll do
anything to avoid the accountability and confrontation that a
mature man would provide.
3. Is controlled by the women in his life. He’s fearful of
displeasing them, and can’t face the turmoil any
confrontation with them might entail. So many Momma’s
boys are prisoners in their own marriage because they fear
their wives more than they fear God.
I have some questions for you men to
Do any of the above statements
apply to you?
Do your child(ren) show more
respect to your wife than to you? Who do they go to for
Are you able to love your wife as
Jesus would no matter how she treats you?
When you’re hurt by your
wife, do you withhold affection from her? Or, do you go to
Jesus for the strength to love her even if she never changes?
Sue: We women can be an incredibly
destructive force in our families. The vast majority of
divorces are now instituted by women, and many women are
finding hearty support from their mothers to sever the marriage
It takes humility and trust in our
Lord’s sovereignty to be a wife and fulfill your covenant
responsibilities. It’s much easier for a man to walk in
love for his wife if he senses your trust in his leadership and
his role as provider. I know from painful experience that
nagging not only gets you nowhere, it antagonizes your husband!
If I take matters into my own hands, I end up angry at him and
agitated in my spirit.
Let’s look at nagging. As a suitable
helper purposely given by God to your particular husband, you
need to seek His will in prayer and give insights and ideas to
your mate. Recognize that since our Lord has created men and
women 97% different, your husband may not have considered
before what you’re saying, and may even not quite
understand what you’re trying to get across. But share
lovingly and leave the rest to our Lord. If you bring up your
insights, opinions or requests more
than once (unless he’s asked
you to remind him), you’re manipulating
Years back I groused repeatedly to Mike
about a decision he’d made, and we were both miserable.
So I asked his forgiveness for my attitude, then turned to my
Father in private prayer: “Please, Lord, either change
this situation or give me peace in my heart about it!”
Two months later, Mike mentioned that the Spirit had pierced
his heart about that matter, and he was taking my suggestion.
Thank YOU, Father, that You shut my mouth from an “I told
you so!!” Because it was God Who had convicted him, Mike was humbled in
spirit and gracious in response to me — a far more
pleasing outcome than if I’d nagged him into my will!
If you give way to fear and control,
you’ll end up dominating everyone around you. That
control will most often take the form of
“mothering.” You’ll make yourself the most
important person in the family, the one everyone tries to
“keep happy.” Consciously or unconsciously,
you’ll undermine your husband and hinder the development
of manhood in your sons.
An old saying goes, “If Momma
ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” But think
about what that attitude says to our Lord as well as to those
in your family. You’ve become the family idol, the one
everyone’s fearful to confront! And in that scenario, the shalom of
God — well-being, harmony, tranquillity — cannot
Are you a woman who can’t
trust your husband because of your past? Are you quick to point
out faults in your husband or in other men, thinking,
“Isn’t that just like a man?”
Are you a woman who tends to mother
her husband? Do you take control of areas in which the Bible
has assigned him responsibility? In particular, do you sweat
family finances? Has it occurred to you that your control is
destroying the intimacy in your marriage?
Are you a meddling mother or
mother-in-law? Have you had a hand in dissolving the marriage
covenant of one of your children? What do you need to do about
6. Many a quiet, ordinary and hidden life...
The Shepherd tells us, “Learn this
lesson now, down here in the valley, and when you get to the steep places of the
mountains it will comfort you.” True humility comes as
you acquire the character of Jesus. Take a moment and read
Philippians 2:1-18. Many Bible versions entitle this section,
“Imitating Christ’s Humility.” Take each
verse as a Personal Review: Evaluate
yourself at this point on your journey in comparison to Jesus.
One of the key elements of our character
transformation is to “take
captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” When your thoughts are brought into conformity
to Jesus’, you can grow as a servant of others. “Whoever wants to become great among you
must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be
your slave — just as the Son
of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:26-28). Shortly, we’ll deal with your
social responsibility to be hospitable. True hospitality is
built on the servanthood that
When you consider Phil. 2:1-18, is
your attitude one of joyful anticipation that our Lord can
transform your character into Christ-likeness, or are you
discouraged that it will never happen?
7. Then he added, “Come...
Have you ever wondered how those who have
been and are being persecuted for their trust in Jesus are able
to endure with such spiritual victory? I’m amazed when I
read testimonies of Richard Wurmbrand, tortured and imprisoned
for 14 years for sharing Jesus in Romania, who could learn to
love and forgive his tormenters. I’m humbled as I see the
scarred yet radiant face of Gulnaz, a young Pakistani sister
burned with acid by an angry Muslim when she refused his sexual
advances, but rejoicing in the sustaining faithfulness of her
You can participate in the suffering of
our brothers and sisters by being the hands and heart of Jesus.
For example, contact the relief group Voice of the Martyrs via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website: www.persecution.com for
ways to bring comfort and help to the suffering family of
Jesus. Get your kids involved through VOM’s
children’s website: www.linkingup.com
Pray for particular
individuals. Practical ways to help include sending blankets and
Christian books, writing letters of encouragement, and
creatively raising funds to provide cooking utensils and food
to impoverished families of prisoners.
Reread that verse in the Shepherd’s
songbook: “As lily among the thorn trees so is my love to
me.” So many of our family in the persecuted church are
able to not only cope with their ordeal but to respond with forgiveness because the presence and example of their Lord
Jesus is ever before them. HE is the lily Who empowers His
“little flowers” in the midst of their painfully
thorny trials. HE is the life-giving refreshment when thirst
and hunger are ravaging their bodies.
Shouldn’t we be praying now to grow
in focus on His presence no matter what our situation is now so
that we can endure the dark days of chastisement that are
The Scripture record is very clear. The
righteous are not exempt from suffering, but are comforted and delivered in their suffering.
Much-Afraid was all too aware of her immaturity, but she also
was wise enough to recognize that it was His right as her
Shepherd “to love me e’er he please.”
Do you ever cringe at the thought
of having to suffer for His Name’s sake without shrinking
What can you and your family do today to
bring refreshment to our persecuted family who are imprisoned
or denied work or food solely because they follow Jesus?
8. As the Shepherd lifted Much-Afraid...,
9. Sometimes in the silence...
I’m ashamed to admit how many times
I’ve grumbled to God when I can’t get to sleep.
Some nights my mind gets mired in the muck of how much I need
to get done, or zoomed in how how miserable my allergies are...
A world-class pity party. But the most tormenting thoughts have
to do with our work: “Is anything that Sue and I are
writing making a difference in anyone’s life? Are we
spinning our wheels instead of running the race?”
I sometimes envy Sue because she often
uses her wakeful times in the wee hours spending time with
Jesus. She’ll tell me the next morning of the ones
He’s impressed on her heart to intercede for, or the
insights He’s breathed out as she’s quieted her
spirit before Him.
She’s discovered the satisfaction
David experienced as he welcomed his Lord’s comforting
nocturnal presence: “I am as
satisfied as with rich food; my mouth praises you with joy on
my lips when I remember you on my bed and meditate on you in
the night watches” (Psa.
Much-Afraid turned her wakeful nights into
a symphony of song as she entertained her heart with the music
from the bubbling stream. She was able to shut out all the
clamoring needs and responsibilities of the day and incline her
spirit to the melody of His creation. If you don’t set
aside time during the day to enjoy His presence, then just
maybe He’ll set apart some time with you at night!
Are you willing to set aside your
grumbling and use your sleepless hours in joyous communion with
Jesus? What transpired the last time you did share the wee
hours with Him?
Are you in the habit of keeping a
notepad on your nightstand so you don’t forget those
special insights He reveals?
10. The Water Song...
Come, oh come! let us away —
Lower, lower every day,
Oh, what joy it is to race
Down to find the lowest place.
This is the dearest law we know.
Doesn’t this pattern of going lower remind
you of the funnel, which we discussed in the Introduction to Hind’s Feet on High Places? The issue of descent in order to ascend is one of the wonderful mysteries of our
faith. Even Jesus descended from heaven to the cross and death
in order to ascend and fill all of creation with His glory.
A humble heart cherishes the descent down
the funnel in order to grow in the love that Jesus wants you to
walk in. As you enter the stem of the funnel, your heart is
less enthralled by self-interest and more consumed with
commitment to His purposes.
Where in funnel would you place
yourself? In the center, growing in sacrificial love? On the
sides needing to repent of sin? In the stem, setting aside
self-interest to better serve our Lord’s purposes?
11. “That is very
puzzling”...,12. “The High Places,” answered
Be careful of “Groupie
Christianity.” Your personal experience with our Lord
Jesus will be minimal if you look to religious crowds and
ear-tickling conferences as an indicator of your walk in
Christ. Perhaps this metaphor can put your journey in
perspective: “To truly follow
Jesus, always swim upstream.”
This principle was made clear as Sue and I
read Hinds’ Feet for the first time in 1977. Swimming upstream
rather than flowing with the crowds was reinforced by the older
mentors and role models we’ve been privileged to have in
our journey with Jesus. They’ve kept us focused on the
narrow gate, and encouraged us to press on toward it rather
than give way to the broad path to destruction.
That decision hasn’t been popular
among certain family members or friends. For us, as an example,
walking the narrow path meant avoiding movies or TV shows that
used the name of Jesus as a curse. That was our halakhah, our
application of the third commandment. “Up-stream
swimming” for us also meant purposing to use our
resources on behalf of sharing the Gospel rather than
Each person or family in Jesus needs to
prayerfully formulate their own halakhahs — Scripture-based life applications
— on what “narrow-gate living” fleshes itself
out as for themselves.
A Lesson from the Bible: In Ezekiel 47 the prophet observed a man measuring
the depth of a stream that flowed out from under the temple
threshold. The further the man got from the temple, the higher
the stream rose. At first the water was ankle deep, but
ultimately it swelled deep enough to swim in. The stream
finally became a river, emptying into the Dead Sea and making
the foul waters fresh.
A verse that’s foundational to the
Gospel of the early Church comes to mind: “‘Whoever trusts in me, as the Scripture
has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he
meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to
receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since
Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:38,39). Because of the Spirit’s presence
in you, you can become a living stream in the world.
Over the years, we used the temple stream
image to question people about their Christian focus: “If
you encountered the stream from the temple, which way would you
turn? Would you go downstream where it got wider and deeper?
Or, would you go upstream where it was smaller and narrower,
but close to the Throne?
Everyone, we mean EVERYONE, chose to go
downstream, where they wouldn’t have to expend any
effort. But their answer also revealed how
“groupie” most people are in their spiritual
expression. Joining the crowds and flowing with the stream is
the overwhelming emphasis of Hellenistic Christianity.
Think of how many people you know who talk
in such glowing terms about their beautiful sanctuary or
magnificent choir or about how well known their pastor is in
the community. Size, not relational intimacy, is how many
measure their faith community.
Now consider why the path upstream toward
the Source of the living water is the way of strengthening your
walk in Jesus.
your implanting of God’s
your direction concerning His will
your character transformation
These are ALWAYS found in personal intimacy with
our Lord Jesus. Your willingness to go upstream indicates how
much you cherish your relationship with Him.
For many years a church leader whose
congregation used our retreat center balked at this reasoning.
One day “Bill” came to see me with this story.
I have something I want to confess to you,
Mike. A few nights ago the Lord gave me dream. In it you and I
were leading a group of people across a meadow toward a river.
Upstream was a large waterfall.
As we got to the bank of the river I said,
“Everybody in the river! We’re going
downstream.” You spoke up and said, “That
isn’t the way the Lord would have us go. We must go upstream.”
Everybody followed you. You all jumped into the river and begin
to swim upstream.
I followed you, walking along the river
bank. At the bottom of the waterfall I found steps that led up
to the top of the waterfall. Somehow, I knew the steps led to
the Throne of God. As I climbed the stairs I kept looking out
at the falls to make sure I was ahead of you. At the top of the
stairs I reached God’s Throne.
He looked at me and said, “Bill, you
didn’t come here the way I have ordained. Look at your
feet.” I looked down and my feet were all muddy. As I
looked back I could see that I’d muddied all the stairs
on the way up.
God ordered me, “Go back down the
way you came and clean each stair as you go. Then you may come
up the waterfall as I have commanded.” As I proceeded
down the stairs, cleaning each one, I looked over toward the
falls. I saw you and the people who followed all ascending the
falls. You weren’t climbing them, but drifting up them. I
then realized that the Holy Spirit was the stream, and He was the one
Who enables you to ascend to the Throne of God.
By the time Bill finished telling me about
his dream, his eyes were filled with tears. He said, “You
know the power of the Holy Spirit that comes from going
upstream.” If you are going to proceed to the High Places,
you’ll be introduced to the Holy Spirit in ways that not
only enable you to grow in Christ-likeness, but also to hold onto what
The truths of this chapter of Hinds’ Feet are
so critical for you to grasp as a way of life. No one will ever get
past The Valley of Loss in Chapter 13 unless the Holy Spirit
starts to control your mind, will and emotions. No one lives in
the High Places without the Spirit of Love.
What wonderful assurance from the Shepherd
that we’ll be able to “run down from the heights in
gladdest self-giving...for it is only up on the High Places of
Love that anyone can receive the power to pour themselves down
in an utter abandonment of
self-giving.” Those words
point to the power the Holy Spirit gives to live for Jesus.
As a follower of Jesus you are our
Father’s adopted child. In this capacity you are given a
very special privilege of intimacy: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you
a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by
him we cry, ‘Abba,
Father’” (Rom. 8:15). Imagine! By the Spirit you are
able to call the God of the universe Daddy!
The Hebrew word that expresses your love
for God is ahav [uh-HAHV], a yearning to cling to Him with all
that’s in you. The Hebrew letters for ahav mean “a window into the Father’s
heart.” Isn’t that what
we all desire? The Holy Spirit makes this happen! He alone
enables us to experience the loving heart of our true DAD.
Are you a Christian
“groupie” who relies on scheduled religious
events with others for the deepest expression of your
How is your alone time with your
Father? Do you know what’s on His heart?
13. This saying seemed very mysterious...
The common theme of the song of the humble
is captured in this phrase,
This is the law by which we
It is so sweet to give and give.
One of the effects of humble servanthood
is hospitality. Depending on your upbringing, this word can have a
variety of meanings.
Sue: In all my growing up years I doubt we
had someone over for a meal or an overnight more than once or
twice! My mother worked long hours and was usually exhausted.
As for meals, we now laugh about our expertise in preparing
frozen TV dinners and icy little pizzas! But that sense of
isolation from others in our home became a bit of a thorn when
Mike and I married. Not only was I not used to having people
in, but I was also anxious over my lack of cooking skills.
Mike: My family was about as
“dirt-poor” as you could be during my childhood,
but every Sunday my grandmother would make a big pot of boiled
hotdogs. All my uncles and aunts and cousins would gather at
their farm and spend time enjoying each other’s company.
The old folks would share stories and we young ones would
listen enthralled, or head outside for games.
At other times my Mom’s sister and
her many kids would come over if we happened to have a chicken.
I’m ashamed now, but I’d really get angry inside
that they were eating up our chicken! But they were even worse
off than we were. My parents always made room for whoever came
by to share whatever we had available. Mom always cheerfully
invited the women into the kitchen to help with preparations
and the cleanup afterward. That’s where so much of the
conversation took place. To me, including people as family was
a wonderful sense of being
Hospitality is far more than just having
someone over to entertain as a guest. Biblical hospitality flows from the heart of a humble person. Paul, Peter, and John all
emphasize the importance that followers of Jesus show
hospitality to others.
Among the many qualities of character
listed for a leader of God’s people, hospitality jumps
out: “Now the overseer must
be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate,
self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2). There’s a wonderful vulnerability
when you invite people into your home. Guests get to see how
you really interact with each other! After all, it’s the
unexpected occurrences, like the spilled casserole or burned
pie, that reveal what’s behind the smile.
Sue: One lesson the Holy Spirit taught me
was that people are more important than things. How you respond
when spaghetti sauce spots your carpet can either ease
someone’s heart or crush it. One evening a teen on
retreat offered to wash the dishes. As she reached for my
favorite glass bowl from Japan, it slipped from her hand and
shattered on the floor. She turned to me with stricken eyes.
Smiling back my inner “Oh
no!”, I put my arm around her and said,
‘Let’s clean it up before anyone gets cut.”
Her very visible relief soothed my sadness at tossing out a
treasure, and it was only the Spirit at work that kept her from
ever knowing it had hurt for a moment. At least now that my
favorite was gone, it didn’t matter what else might get
broken in the future!
The keys to true biblical hospitality are humility and a servant’s heart. You are showing honor to
someone when you ask them into your home. Taking the time and making the effort to welcome
people into your home demonstrates your esteem for your
guest. Most Asian and African cultures sacrifice their own
needs in order to make their guests feel honored and welcome.
We find this same extravagant care in
Scripture. The patriarch Abraham spared no effort to make the
three unexpected visitors to his tent feel comfortable. (You
can read the account in Gen. 18:1-16.) Other examples in the
Word, on the other hand, point out those whose hearts were
proud. They held lavish feasts but failed to extend the warmth
that a heart welcome would have remembered. (See Luke 7:36-50
for the difference that humility and love make when you extend
In our years of following Jesus, Sue and I
have received many invitations by Chris-tians. Sadly, sometimes
we felt more like an intrusion! Preparation of the meal and all
that went into serving it seemed more important at times than
interaction with each other.
Have you ever arrived at someone’s
home at their invitation and felt the brittleness of the
atmosphere? You could just sense that angry words had been
exchanged, and that your host or hostess had been anxiously
scurrying around to make sure that you’d have a good
impression of their home. Tension clouds hospitality if the activity is more
important than growing the
relationship of those who step
into your home.
Have you ever been invited to
someone’s home for dinner only to find yourself
refereeing or counseling over marriage and family problems?
Have you ever put others in that situation?
Have you ever sat at a table when
the husband and wife were interrupting each other, vying for
your attention? Have your hosts ever tried to make you take
sides in their differences with each other? Have you done this
to others when they’ve come to your home?
Have you ever been invited into a
home where a parent and child, especially mothers and
daughters, take over the dinner conversation? Have you done
this to others?
Have you ever just sat there as a
guest while your host(s) talked at
you, not with you? Have you
dominated conversations like this with others?
of your own family arrive home, are
they greeted with a hospitable attitude? Is your home a
sanctuary of affectionate
expression? Do you all truly value
When you are a guest or live in a home
where true hospitality exists, you feel valued and your dignity
is enriched. True hospitality has the fragrance of love that
permeates the atmosphere for family and friend alike. Think
about this the next time you invite anyone over, or when one of
your family members arrives home.
14. After that it seemed... through 16. The
Shepherd laughed and answered...
The Shepherd reminds all of us about an
important matter in our growth into agape love. As God’s
love grows in your heart, you begin to see things differently.
Love has a powerful effect to heal painful memories and your
response toward people who hurt you.
The humility that undergirds your love
melts away the temptation of false
expectation that others should
treat you better. Instead, God gives you the grace to love. Where there
was resentment before, you’ll find compassion sprouting.
Perhaps even now you have a certain
someone who is a painful, annoying irritant. Maybe you’re
downright angry with a political figure you don’t even
know! But as you grow in God’s perspective, which is
grounded in love, you’ll be moved to grieve over that
person’s situation rather than wish they were just gone.
The worldly response may be fear, anger,
disdain, hatred. But the Shepherd's response is one of sorrow
and compassion, because He knows what caused such miserable
response in that particular person. He isn’t excusing the
actions of the perpetrator, but His attitude defuses any
arrogance on your part to judge that individual!
Do you respond in anger and hatred
when you read about suicide bombers, political tyrants,
religious persecution? How do you suppose Jesus wants you to
What does it mean to you to
“love your enemies, and do good to those who hate
you”? How can you put this into action?
17. As love grows in you..., 18. It was
strange and wonderful...
It’s such a mercy that our Lord
doesn’t reveal in advance what’s in store for us!
The Shepherd informed Much-Afraid that she still had much to
learn, “many things which you never dreamed of
before.” Do you think that if He’d detailed for her
all that she would encounter, she would have still pressed on?
Sue: When I was in college, I was having a
painful time in a relationship with a guy. But after the
breakup I came across a Hemingway book entitled The Sun Also Rises.
Now, I never did read the book, but the title gave me a lot of
hope! Just when life seems darkest, you know that the light
will come — the sun not only sets on your tears, it also
rises and brings a new day!
I didn’t know Scripture back then,
but a verse comes to mind to corroborate that thought: “But in my mind, I keep returning to
something, something that gives me hope — that the grace
of the Lord is not exhausted, that His compassion has not
ended. They are new every morning! How great is your
faithfulness!” (Lam. 3:
As long as Much-Afraid was aware of the
Shepherd’s presence, she forgot her lameness and
weakness. As you pray, make it a habit to look up into the
Shepherd’s face, trusting Him that you’ll be
“upheld by his hand and supported by his
Think back five years. What changes
have occurred in your life that you never would have imagined?
Would you have altered any decisions had you known what your
life would be like today?
Are you able to trust along with
Much-Afraid that whatever weakness or anxiety you’re facing
can be overcome by your Shepherd?
19. When she thought of this...; 20. He
looked at her most kindly...
I think most of us remember from biology
class that a chick needs to work itself out of its egg. If you help
remove the shell, you’ll weaken its ability to survive.
This is true in many facets of Christlike development. Within
certain boundaries, your life is often a pilgrimage of learning
to persevere. What you truly value in life depends on you
discovering for yourself your own value and persevering in it.
Dr. James Dobson made an interesting
observation a few years back. It went something like this:
“One of the greatest mistakes Christian parents make is
not allowing their children to fail.” We’re so used to rushing in to
make sure our kids study for tests or do a good job on a
science project (I was guilty of that one! I still remember
weighing all those baby chicks when Mikey was “too
We take up an offense for them if a buddy
snubs them or a friend doesn’t call. We do their chores
for them when they “forget”. They never get to
taste the pain of failure when the problem is still small! Our
intervention teaches them to always expect someone to get them
out of their problems. They never learn to persevere, or to
taste the consequences of their choices.
If they don’t experience
consequences for their decisions and choices (we’re not
referring to biggies like drugs, sex, reckless
driving—those you need to enforce!), they’ll learn to rely
on excuses. The earlier your son or daughter learns to accept
responsibility for his or her mistakes, the more readily he or
she will see how needful it is to carefully and prayerfully
weigh decisions and choices when you aren’t there to
As you’ll see along the journey, our
Lord will permit you to encounter circumstances in which you
have a choice. Often the choice is whether you will trust Him,
or give way to fear and try to take things into your own hands.
And after you’ve made your choice, will you persevere or
Much-Afraid asked the Shepherd,
“Will you not take me all the way?” You left your
parents’ care when you headed out on the road to
maturity. They couldn’t hold your hand during your
painful life classrooms. If you’re to grow in spiritual maturity,
you have to let go of any fear, blame or excuses. Grab the hand
of your spouse or journey partner and encourage each other to press on.
To whom do you turn when the debris
of life circumstances blocks your progress? Who most often
encourages you to press on?
Are you a parent who has
overprotected your children, hindering their progress in
decision making? What steps of release could you implement to
help your child learn the consequences of his/her mistakes?
21. “Afterwards you will be
The Shepherd has urged Much-Afraid to
climb to the heights “this once with the companions I have chosen for
you.” After she has accomplished that, she’ll then
be free to leap with him and to make the “ascent and
descent in the twinkling of an eye.”
There’s an important lesson here for
us. We need both the “ascent” of our personal time
with our Lord, being strengthened and stirred to respond to His
“marching orders”, as well as the
“descent” to follow through in fulfilling those
Think of yourself as a conduit, a pipe
that receives water from above, then bends to pour it out. That
which our Father has so graciously poured
into you by His Spirit is intended
to be poured out onto others so that they’ll be strengthened and
encouraged. Yet how many Christians fill up to the brim with
teaching tapes, music, books — and never refresh others
with what they’ve taken in?
Believing that our Father wants them to
stay perpetually on the High Places to edify themselves, they
never take their eyes off their own navel to realize that
He’s filling them up in order to pour them out!
Navel-gazing is the fruit of Hellenic Christianity: cognitive
input, no output — not at all the love-grounded obedient
trust of the Hebraic Restoration!
That’s why it’s so important
to have the right companions on the journey. Given the choice,
you’d probably select like-minded friends who would make
you feel good each step of the way, coddling you with
compliments about how far you’ve come, and even
convincing you at the first obstacle that God never intends for
you to suffer.
Our Shepherd turns the theoretical concept of
yieldedness into the reality of trust that’s willing to endure suffering and
sorrow for His purposes to be accomplished. That doesn’t
happen easily. Some of us have to repeat classrooms of trial in
order to learn how to thwart the enemy’s schemes more quickly!
Sue: We’ve been married 33 years and
God has relocated us 18 times. Once I make a nest, I like to
stay in it. Each time we move, I arrange things “just
so”, and never rearrange them. By now you’ve
guessed my ongoing classroom: change! Just when I think that in the next
move I’ll be more flexible and less rooted —
whammo! I get edgy and anxious with Mike, as though he were the
cause of this disruption of my life rather than my sovereign
Now, I realize that moving might not seem
like a big deal to you, but that embodiment of “sorrow
and suffering” for me is my gracious Father’s means
to take my eyes off the things of this world and refocus them
on my eternal home where I’ll
never have to move again!
The dear friends He’s raised up
alongside us for the journey have wonderfully forgiving hearts,
just as the precious companions of Much-Afraid were handpicked
to prepare her to be a “citizen” of the High
Places. For her own good — no, for her best — the Shepherd
urges her to take their hands and press on.
Would you describe yourself as a
“navel-gazer”, someone who has received much from
our Father but is reluctant to pour it out onto others? What
has our Father been pouring into you lately that He intends for
you to pour out?
What has been a recurring issue or
situation in your own life with which our Lord has revisited
you to help you trust His sovereign hand more readily?
22. Some of them, you know, can visit the
lower part of the Mountain...
If you try to remain close to your
relationships in the Valley of your Strongholds and to the way
they think and evaluate, you’ll continue to be
susceptible to attack. Those who are spiritually complacent in
the Valley won’t give up trying to get you to forget
about journeying to the High Places. As the Shepherd told
Much-Afraid, we say the same to you: “We have no doubt
that you will meet them as you make the ascent.”
Make sure you’ve identified and
discussed how to meet your seven God-given needs as written
about in Demolishing Strong-holds. As your needs are met in God’s way,
you’ll be less disturbed by the demonic whispers tempting
you to turn back to your old way of life. Now is the time to
practice taking those thoughts captive and bringing them into
obedience to the way Jesus would think!
Your trust in our Lord is strengthened as
you see Him at work day by day. As you learn to call out to Him
for help more quickly, you’ll find the famous poem of
“Footsteps in the Sand” becoming more real as you
experience His answer. I used to say for years as a young
follower of Jesus, “If the Holy Spirit weren’t
going through this with me, I wouldn’t go on!” Keep
reminding yourself that you’re never alone. Help is very
near, as Paul assures us. Internalize Philippians 4:4-7 and
Romans 10:6-11 so you never lose sight of His indwelling
presence. Help is just a prayer away!
Since you first started the
Hind’s Feet journey, how has your calling out for help
changed in frequency and intensity?
Would others say that they can see
your trust in God growing, and your rationale and analysis
23. “You will give me”..., 24.
Just as Peter started sinking into the
stormy waters when he took his focus off Jesus, so, too,
Much-Afraid latched onto worry and anxiety when she turned her
focus onto herself rather than trusting in His promises. The
lovely peace she’d basked in just minutes earlier
evaporated as self-focus washed away the sweet sights and
sounds that had so enthralled her.
Veteran missionary E. Stanley Jones has
written extensively, contrasting the agape self-sacrificial
love of Jesus with the self-centered, egotistical love of self
that always asks, “What about me?” Centuries
before the Incarnation, Plato had written that God is eros, the love that
focuses on self. A whole segment of Christianity is caught up
in the web that takes for personal benefit, and gives only if
there’s a perceived blessing attached.
Our God is agape — self-giving, sacrificial Love, the Love
that has power to change us! How our Lord Jesus yearns to loosen our grip
from the “love-that-grabs” so that our spiritual
hands can open up to give as He gives!
Can you think of any areas of your
life in which the “What’s in it for me?” or
“What will happen to us if we follow the pilgrim
path?” questions are hindering your desire to press on?
25. Much-Afraid paused on the bridge...
As she got ready to cross the bridge that
left the valley behind, Much-Afraid saw that “the Valley
looked very green and peaceful, while the mountains...towered
above them like gigantic and threatening ramparts.” In
your journeying with Jesus you’ll probably be tempted to
look back longingly through a rose-colored lens of what
you’re leaving behind. The leeks and onions of your own
Egypt may start to look tantalizingly favorable when you
consider what it might take to press on into the unknown.
Scan the Book of Exodus and mark how many
times God tested the hearts of His people. Then note how often they
responded by looking back at Egypt with longing. God had warned
them that He would test their trust in Him to reveal whether
their hearts would be inclined to keep His ways: “Remember how the Lord your God led you
all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in
your heart, whether or not you
would keep his commands” (Deu.
Our Father puts you into situations of
potential stress to expose what’s in your heart. Will
your trust withstand the heat so that the dross can be consumed
and your love be purified as fine gold? Or, will He find doubt
and self-preservation holding you back, resisting His fires of
cleansing, and grumbling that He’s too hard on you?
No stranger to the assault of doubts,
Peter was able to respond with encouragement to those
undergoing fiery trials of grief and distress: “The purpose of these trials is so that
your trust’s genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable
gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of
Jesus the Messiah” (1
How often have you been assailed with
thoughts that God must be punishing you, or that you must have
sinned because you’re undergoing such dire circumstances?
Set your heart at rest! If the Spirit is not convicting you
that you’ve sinned, and your journey partner
doesn’t have any insight in case your own heart is not
hearing accurately, then look at this trial as a means of
identifying with the sufferings of Jesus so that you can share
in His glory!
In our June/July 1999 newsletter entitled “Crossing the Jordan”, we address the issue of pilgrimage and the
importance of crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. It
might be helpful if we recount the revelation God gave us after
we’d traveled 8,000 miles around the country visiting
people who were trying to establish the Hebraic foundations in
My people today are like the Israelites
whom I brought to the Promised Land. Each person who has put
trust in My Son was once in Egypt. Their idols of human
pursuits kept them in captivity. Those who sought truth have
left Egypt. Through a variety of experiences I have been
leading them through the ‘Sinai desert’. Many have
been hurt in different faith communities. Sadly, they do not
see the hurt as part of My plan for them.
During this trip around the country you
are encountering many who are approaching the shores of, or who
are in, the Jordan River. Through this trip I am sending you
and Sue back from the Promised Land to the shores of the
Jordan. You cannot enter the river yourselves or cross back
over it, but you can speak from the shore to those who are on
the opposite shore or in the river.
The Jordan River is the demarcation between
the Sinai and the Promised Land. The Sinai is a time of testing
to see if My people will grow in their trust of Me. There are
many who remain in the Sinai and refuse to enter the river.
Some of these, as they’ve approached the Jordan, have
decided to try one last religious venture, believing that they
will finally experience what they’ve been seeking all
throughout the Sinai. A few, in error, believe that seeking
signs and wonders pleases Me. They are deluded — they
only please themselves.
Others have been trapped in the Sinai
because they’ve blindly followed their clergy. But as
these clergy have approached the river, they’ve realized
that once the people cross over to the Promised Land
they’ll live in union with Me and with each other. The position and control they’ve had
over My people would then be broken. Instead of leading them
across, many clergy lead them along the opposite shoreline of
the river. They point across the river to the things of the
Promised Land but won’t let anyone cross. They convince
the people that seeing the Promised Land is the same as living there.
Still others stop
themselves from entering the
river because they’re held captive by the bitterness and
betrayals they experienced in failed relationships in the
Sinai. Rather than seeing their suffering as part of their
Father’s character development into My Image, they
continue to resent the people and events that hurt them.
Therefore I leave them prisoners in their own manmade cells in
the Sinai until they humble themselves, repent, and forgive as
I forgive. No married couple who
enters the Jordan will set foot on the shore of the Promised
Land unless both of them do so in union together.
The covenant relationship established
through marriage is a physical representation of the union you
share with the Spirit through Jesus. Just as you would have no
spiritual power apart from His union work in you, neither will
you find the power of the Promised Land without your marriage
union partner if you’re married.
You may be thinking that given the current
state of your marriage, this is hopeless. BUT NOTHING IS
IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD! He is well able to strengthen, comfort and
sustain you as He changes you and as He changes your spouse.
Keep focused on His faithfulness, and
follow through on what He tells you. And keep in mind that He
may choose to speak through your spouse (remember
Balaam’s donkey?), so don’t discount the condition
of your own heart to be ready to receive from whatever instrument
He chooses to use.
Father tests your faith in the Sinai to expose and burn away
the dross of distrust in Him. Your propensity to yearn for the
comforts and familiarity of the world and how things used to be
is the dry sand of Egypt. But your continued trusting obedience
will lead you across the Jordan if you are willing to cross it under the terms He desires.
What areas of God’s testing
are going on around you right now? What do you think God wants
you to learn through these times?
If you’re married, are you
and your spouse “on the same page” insofar as
desire and willingness to cross the Jordan together? As you
discuss this, determine what’s holding you back and how
you can overcome the obstacles.
26. As these scenes rose before her; 27.
Then, as she looked up in his face...
Many of the trials and tests in your life
are unexpected intrusions. Keep your focus on Jesus, and
don’t let yourself concentrate on your circumstances.
Much-Afraid knew what she (and all of us) must do when we are
tempted to look back: “I will trust you and do whatever you
Did you notice the connection between her
trust and her response to take action? How many times have you said you trust
Jesus but were paralyzed from taking action when His Spirit
We have an older friend who for years told
us that she wanted to be on the “front line of the
faith” but couldn’t because she needed to care for
her ailing husband. Then the man passed. Our friend told us
that the Lord had spoken to her a word,
“Evangelize.” We’ve prayed daily that she
will have eyes to see the many daily opportunities He’s
raising up around her, and that she’ll follow through in
obedient trust. How easy it is to give way to the lethargy of
inactivity rather than step out in faith!
As parents, it was a wonderful joy when we
knew our son trusted us to guide him rightly. Even though we
fell short so many times, it was a delight when we could see
God using us to help shape his growth and understanding.
That’s why it was all the more painful when he chose to distrust our counsel
and had to suffer the painful consequences of choices we knew
couldn’t succeed. If you’re a parent, you perhaps
know what we’re talking about here.
This distrust issue impacts marriages as
well. A man truly feels respected when he experiences trust
from both his wife and his children to make decisions that
benefit the whole family. Almost as painful as having an
unfaithful wife is the hurt a man feels when he doesn’t experience
the respect that trust gives him.
Certain elements of western Christianity
are encouraging wives to act independently of their husbands,
particularly if the woman feels she’s “more
spiritual” than her husband. Alongside that is the
intense control of peer pressure even on Christian children
that tries to override the counsel of fathers. Both situations
have robbed many men of the respect due them in their homes.
Instead of coming home from work to the
joyous welcome of their wives and kids, many men feel as though
they’re imposing on the preordained schedules of
commitments and lessons and meetings that leave no time for his
input or involvement. His wife and kids have cemented their
lives into obligations and activities that have eliminated the
family mealtime together. (And we realize that sometimes this
chaos is husband-driven, too.) That runaway treadmill shreds
the well-being and harmony that your home is supposed to
provide. Some-times a man can feel as if his home, as it is, is
the last place he wants to be to find peace!
Wives, picture yourself on the
bridge as Much-Afraid. Would the Shepherd be able to praise your eyes as
beautifully full of trust that He works in and through your husband to teach you to trust His loving sovereignty? How can
you show your husband in very real ways that you do respect him
as Jesus would have you?
Are you feeling alone right in the
middle of your family life? Is there anyone with whom you can
talk about it? Ask our Lord to reveal to you the root of your
28. In a very short time... through 32.
“No, they are not dumb”...
When your life is manageable and you feel
like everything’s going great, your response to our Lord
is generally different than when you’re desperate.
You’re probably quick to hum songs of praise in your
heart and exult in your peaceful state when all is running
smoothly. But just let a “steep and difficult”
obstacle crop up, and you shiver under the cloud cover and
reach out for help! That’s when you need the strong arms
of the companions He’s given you in your loadbearing
relationships. They can’t take away the problem, but they
can encourage and strengthen you to trust in the One Who can!
Mike: Sometimes as Sue and I labor to
share with others the things our Father has put on us to write,
we get overwhelmed by discouragement. The enemy sneaks
alongside to whisper, “Your work is fruitless. No
one’s being impacted to seek after Jesus by what
you’re writing. You’re not really hearing from
You can bet I cry out to our Lord! And
then He faithfully stirs a precious brother or sister to call
with a word of strengthening encouragement to press on and keep
trusting Jesus! Or an email arrives from someone we’ve
never met who has made radical changes in his/her life as our
material has confirmed what the Spirit has already been
What a wonderful promise from our Lord
that He indeed has companions for each of us on the journey,
especially when the path is rock-strewn and treacherous.
Can you recall a time when you were
on a steep and difficult place, and someone unexpectedly
stopped by or called or sent a card that lifted your heart in
grateful thanks to Jesus?
When was the last time our Lord
prompted you out of the blue to be a voice of comfort, strength
or encouragement to someone? How did you follow through? How
did the person you contacted respond?
33. They are good teachers; indeed, I have
few better... through 35. “I can’t go with them”...
Much-Afraid is given the same traveling
companions imparted to every follower of Jesus. While Sorrow
and Suffering are conscientiously avoided in the pleasure-bent
Hellenistic Christiandom of today, they really are God’s
very effective way to grow in Christ-likeness.
Even before He was incarnate, Jesus was
prophesied to be the suffering Messiah: “He
was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we
esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:
Following that same theme the writer to
the Hebrews identified Jesus as the One Who suffered to bring His
followers to peace with our Father: “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting
that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should
make the author of their salvation perfect
through suffering” (Heb. 2:10).
Is it any wonder that we who choose to
follow our Lord must embrace our Father’s pattern to
perfect our faith? “To this you
were called, because Christ suffered
for you, leaving you an example, that you
should follow in his steps” (1 Pet.
Earlier we mentioned the precious
privilege of calling our Father “Abba”. Now gnaw on
the rest of the passage: “The
Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's
children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—
heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also
share in his glory” (Rom. 8:15-17).
What does suffering do to help us in our
walk? Suffering is to us in many ways what the confining shell
is to a chick. The need to break out of our complacent security
strengthens our development in patient endurance. Isn’t
this what Paul is trying to tell us?
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us, because
God has poured out his love into
our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom
he has given us (Rom. 5:3-5).
In modern parlance, “No pain—no gain.”
Isn’t it wonderful of our Lord to veil our suffering
until it coincides with His timing? What if you knew in advance all
that you’d endure during your pilgrimage of
transformation? You might never leave the Valley! How merciful
of the Shepherd to veil Sorrow and Suffering at the beginning
of the trip until Much-Afraid learned to lean on them for
If you are misjudging some of the
suffering you’re going through, this story we shared in a
newsletter years ago may encourage you:
It was good!
A king in Africa had a close friend he
grew up with. The friend had a habit of looking at every
situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative)
and remarking, ‘This is good!’
One day the king and his friend were out
on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the
guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something
wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun
from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.
Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual,
‘This is good!’ to which the king replied,
‘No, this is NOT good!’ and proceeded to send his
friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting
in an area that he should have known to stay clear of.
Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied
his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to
the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they
noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious,
they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the
king, they sent him on his way.
As he returned home, he was reminded of
the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his
treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to
speak with his friend. ‘You were right,’ he said.
‘It was good that my thumb was blown off.’ And he
proceeded to tell his friend all that had just happened.
‘And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so
long. It was bad for me to do this.’
‘No,’ his friend replied,
‘this is good!’
‘What do you mean, “this is
good!”? How could it be good that I sent my friend to
jail for a year?’
‘If I had NOT been in jail, I would
have been with you!’
Write several sentences to explain
how you deal with sorrow, suffering, and life’s setbacks.
Can you think of a particular situation in which something that
started out as a setback proved in the end to be a blessing?
Has your suffering brought you
closer to our Lord Jesus, or made you more guarded? Have you
stored up memories of your own victorious suffering so you can
encourage others in their suffering?
36. A strange look... through 38. She looked at
If anything, those who have grown in their
trust in our Lord learn this: How very sovereign He is in all
things! Peter and the other Eleven were at a crossroad. Jesus
had spoken a difficult word about his body and blood that had
caused all the other disciples to walk off, leaving this little
band alone with the Master. What doubts must have assailed them
at that point!
And then... Jesus asked that most poignant
of questions: “Don’t you want to leave, too?”
The angels held their collective breath. Would Messiah be
forsaken even by His closest friends? Peter spoke for them all. “Lord, to whom would we go?
You have the word of eternal life. We have trusted, and we know
that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68,69).
Even though she was robed in fear and
doubts about the unknown future, little Much-Afraid could not
deny the reality of the Shepherd and of His call upon her
heart. Nor can we: “Then [we] looked at the Shepherd and
suddenly knew [we] could not doubt him, could not possibly turn
back from following him... Even if he asked the impossible,
[we] could not refuse.”
There is always peace of soul when
you choose to trust Jesus. Conversely, you’ll never find
peace without trusting Him:
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were
they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was
[God] angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned,
whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that
they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that
they were not able to enter,
because of their unbelief. Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we
also have had the gospel preached
to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to
them, because those who heard did not combine it with trust (Heb. 3:16-4:2).
God’s sovereignty, His wondrous
love, His omnipotence, and all His other attributes add up to
only one issue: Can you trust Him for Who He is? Well, do you?
Is He truly the revealed God of the Bible to your heart, or is
He some far-off deity you doubt so that you can wallow in your
fear and worry? Why not memorize the prayer that set the course
of obedient trust for Much-Afraid: “Help
me to trust you as much as I long to love you.” Your trust becomes a growing experience with our Lord when you make the decision to trust.
Ask yourself just where you would
be now if you hadn’t followed Jesus. Can you now feel a
sense of compassion for those who have yet to encounter Him?
What is the most recent crossroad
you’ve encountered that caused you to have to trust Jesus
because you had no other recourse? When the crisis was over,
how could you recognize that He had intervened?
39. As he heard these words the Shepherd
suddenly lifted his head and laughed...
Can you imagine what it’s like for
our Lord to hear you express your trust in Him? How beautiful
it must be for Him to hear these words, “I want to trust
you as much as I love you” when you’re facing a
choice to doubt or to trust Him. That’s because He knows
the victory to which your trust will lead!
“For in Christ Jesus...The only thing that counts is trust expressing
itself through love” (Gal. 5:6). Trust can be contagious,
because it expresses the abiding peace and joy that a loving
walk in Jesus brings.
Sue: I taught conversational English to
international women at a nearby university. Most had little
opportunity to get together with other women as their husbands
were busy graduate students. Many of these women were from
Mainland China, and most had little knowledge of Jesus.
Every so often one would mention a
political or social issue and ask what I thought about it.
Realizing that most people raised outside this country were
told that America was “Christian”, I knew I
needed to be specific. So I would respond, “As a follower of Jesus...”
That little phrase of identification often prompted followup
discussion of what it really means to be a
“Christian.” And what joy when some asked me to
teach them about Him personally from His Word so they might
encounter Him too!
When you picture Jesus, what
expression is on His face? In His voice? Describe your
impressions of Him.
Would your description of Jesus or
your accounts of Him in your life attract others to seek Him?
40. When the last note had faded...
So often throughout the Bible the Lord
tells us to “fear not.” We don’t
really know what trust is until we face something to fear. One of the most common fears people have is
that they will be put to shame. We have encountered so many
Christians over the years who have been imprisoned by fear that
if they publicly identified with Jesus, they’d be shamed or
Have you ever missed an opportunity in
which the Holy Spirit was prompting you to say something about
Jesus or to pray with someone at that very moment, but you
didn’t open your mouth because you were uncertain of the
response you’d receive?
Sue: I feel awful when a chance to bring praise to Jesus or hope
in Him to someone slips by. Recently I was seated on a flight
next to a young man who revealed his difficult work schedule.
He and his wife had been married for four years and were in
DEEP credit card debt. Recogni-zing their pit and anxiously
wanting out of it, they’d agreed for him to work at a
good-paying job that required him to be away on alternate
weeks. Both were exhausted, and she desperately wanted
I periodically tried to interject
testimony of how God had helped us, and gave some counsel
regarding his situation, but he didn’t seem to respond.
BUT, instead of asking him if he’d like me to pray for
him to Jesus then and there, I just shrugged inwardly and
opened my book. He fell asleep, and I was nagged by the thought
that I’d missed an opportunity.
When the plane landed, he woke up and
gathered his stuff to deplane. I probably could have stopped
him at that point and asked to pray, but I didn’t... I
have since asked our Lord to bring another Jesus follower into
their lives, but I hope this sorrow at my own hesitation will
prompt me to be courageous the next time!
Shame is linked to pride. A humble person
knows no shame. Humble trust reinforces our Lord’s
promise, a promise that cannot be shaken: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to
stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (Rom. 9:
33). Let’s trust His prompting to represent Him by name
so that others will encounter Him in us!
Do you often experience feelings of
shame that hinder you from the following through on the
Spirit’s prompting? When was the last time you kept your
mouth shut when you knew He wanted you to speak?
Have you considered that God is
addressing your pride as you experience shame? What do you purpose to
do to change this?
41. Much-Afraid stood quite still..., 42.
“Others have gone this way”...
Do you remember this one portion of the Step-by-Step poem we
shared at the end Chapters 2 and 3?
One step thou seest—then go forward
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.
True humility-based trust in God is
concerned with choosing the step He’s giving you and then
taking that one step. Trust will keep you from being concerned
with the outcome of where that step will lead.
Mike: I had completed my seminary degree
requirements and was working as a special assistant to the
institution’s president while Sue was taking courses. One
day the Spirit spoke clearly to my spirit: Leave your job and
move back to Connecticut. I’m going to take your father
My dad had suffered from a serious blood
disease, and only painful transfusions were keeping him alive
at that point. I shared with Sue as well as a few close friends
what the Spirit had told me. They all agreed I should move back
to take care of my father until he died. Interestingly,
though, a number of other Christians had angry retorts:
“You’re supposed to leave your parents and cling to
your wife!” (Sue was staying in Massachusetts with our
son to finish her semester.) “How can you provide for
your family if you’re taking care of your
But my spirit was at rest with the one
step I’d been given. I brought Dad home, and Mom and I
took care of him until he passed to Jesus five weeks later. I
didn’t need to know the next step until that occurred!
Our Lord was already at work behind the
scenes setting into place the next step. While I was caring for
Dad, the Board of Directors from a nearby retreat center made
contact with me. After Dad’s passing, Sue and I took over
as the center’s administrators, where we’d serve
for the next ten years.
Are you a person who is known for
taking one step of trust without having to know any more than
Have you been seeking God’s
will about a matter for some time without receiving any
guidance? Could you be asking for more than our Lord wants to
reveal to you?
43. She stepped forward... through 45. Then
What a relief to know that in all aspects
of our lives, Jesus the Shepherd leads
the way! To the extent that you
call on Him in trust to show you your next step, He’ll
reveal it. He’s gone there before, no matter what you encounter.
That’s why He endured life in the flesh as we do, so that
no trial or temptation could confront you that He hasn’t
Just as He promised His disciples, He
repeats to you: “My peace I
leave with you.” His
peace never evaporates or gets used up! Your decision point is,
“Do I appropriate that which the Spirit of Jesus so
unfailingly offers me, even (and especially!) in my sorrow and
Again, we are faced with a choice of
whether or not to press on. The Hebraic Restoration is an
obedience-based walk with our God. Your trust-filled obedience
and growing love for our Lord is what makes you a true follower
of Jesus. Are you ready to prayerfully say to our Lord Jesus,
“I will go with you. Please lead the way.”?
On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your
level of hope at this point that He will transform your
character into His likeness as you press on?
46. When they could see him no longer...
In the next chapter Much-Afraid encounters
pride. How important, then, is the warning of that final truth:
“The development of hind’s feet is a secret
process, demanding that there should be no onlookers.”
That doesn’t mean that you can’t share what
you’re learning with others.
But exercise the humility to realize that
our Shepherd’s work in each of His sheep is going to be
very unique. What He does in you may be different than what He
does in your spouse or journey partners. Don’t birth
expectations that everyone else should be learning at the same
rate you are! Remember, true testimony reveals what Jesus is doing, not
what you’re doing!
Humility knows no fear, only loving
servanthood — the willingness to show selfless
hospitality to others. Before we begin our next chapter, why
don’t you and whoever is going with you discuss and
explore the importance of walking
humbly with your God.