The only way out of the valley was up. But the up seemed so daunting. The climb seemed so steep. My heart was so tired.
The Lord gathered a few around me, but most of all He surrounded me with His presence.
We had a mountain to climb, a path of suffering to endure for a time and a whole lot of steps to take on this upward journey.
I felt so much like the character, Much Afraid, in Hannah Hurnard's book Hinds' Feet on High Places. As Much Afraid stood at the bottom of a great precipice that she was to climb, she was overcome by fear and cried out to the Shepherd The Lord met her on her journey because He "is of very tender compassion to them that are afraid." (Hurnard, pg. 107)
Calling her by name, the Shepherd asked Much Afraid why she was so fearful.
"It is the way you have chosen for me to go," she whispered. "It looks so dreadful, Shepherd, so impossible." (Hurnard, pg. 107)
Jesus' journey to Calvary was dreadful too! He called out to His Father praying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me."
Then He immediately follows his plea with, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39
It was not my will to be in a valley of despair looking up at a route that seemed so hard.
But I knew I couldn't go around the mountain. I couldn't go under it. I couldn't go through it. I had to go up it, one desperate step at a time, somedays with bloodied knees crawling from stone to stone.
Laying down my will over and over and over each day.
Jesus only laid His will down once in that garden, but like the disciples, my flesh was weak and the temptation to have it my way overruled way too often.
Each step of the going up strengthened the faith muscles, each tear drop in the pain and frustration released that self-sufficiency that kept me in the valley, each bend I went around was a lesson learned of a characteristic of the Lord, all the while the blood of hope pumped harder and harder through my veins.
The Shepherd had a question for Much Afraid. He asked her if she believed that he could change her into a mountain goat and get her to the top of the precipice.
"Yes" was her answer.
But it wasn't enough to just believe that he could get her to the top.
"Will you let me do it?"
It was his will, his way in her journey. It was His will, His way in mine.
Is it His will, His way in yours?
Complete surrender and trust in the Shepherd through suffering leads to triumph in Christ and transformation in us.
It is the only way that our hearts of stone can be transformed into a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:17
It is the only way that He can turn the ashes of our lives into something beautiful. Isaiah 61:3
It is the only way we can stare into the empty tomb with joy, knowing that God redeemed Christ's sufferings, and in His rising from the dead, we have a risen Savior to walk with us through ours.
"I love doing preposterous things," he (the Shepherd) replied. "Why, I don't know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing more than another which I should enjoy doing at this moment it is . . . transforming things." (Hurnard, pg. 109)
Let us bend our knees at the foot of our mountain, at the foot of the cross, and drop our wills and surrender to the transforming work He so desires to do in our lives.
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18
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