In prayer-meditation this morning. Spirit reminded me of a book that has been a Spiritual marker for me; one that was given to me many years ago when I committed my life to Yeshua. I was instructed to reach Chapter 6 of the book with the message that it would tell me where I was in this journey set upon what seems like another lifetime ago.
The book is called “Hinds’ Feet for High Places,” by Hannah Hurnard. Chapter 6 is titled “Detour Through the Desert.” When I read this, I groaned and thought, “Oh, he** no!” It’s been so many years and I am still, or heading back into the desert! Oh he** no!”
For those who do not know the book, a bit of background information. This is a story about a young woman called “Much Afraid,” [I’ll just call her MA] who has been in the employ of the “Good Shepherd” [whom I will call Yeshua] and he has asked her if she would go with him to the “High Places.” She said yes and her journey began.
When MA said yes, Yeshua said he would be giving her two of his servants as companions:
“whom I have chosen to be your guides … Remember, I have chosen them myself, with great care, as the two who are most able to help you and assist you in developing hinds’ feet. You will accept them with joy and allow them to be your helpers, will you not?”
I smile now as I read MA’s response to the Yeshua, because it was pretty much my response when I was baptized and began to Love the Lord. MA
“answered at once, smiling at him happily. ‘Of course I am quite certain that you know best and that whatever you choose is right.’“
It wasn’t until Chapter 4 of the book that we find MA at the foot of the mountains about to meet her two guides. Hannah is somewhat flabbergasted as she learns the name of these women who were to accompany her on this amazing journey:
Sorrow and Suffering
I think I was rather flabbergasted when I heard who the companions would be, on a personal level. Now, looking back over the years I can see that maybe I am indeed at Chapter 6 of Hannah’s story. I just went through four years of deep sorrow and suffering. Two of my brothers took their lives within a two year period and my heart aches with the loss. I never thought for an instance that any of my family would do such a thing, but you do not know. Before all of that I lost the material stuff and thought that was difficult enough, never dreaming that it could and would get worse.
I recall saying to the Lord, “Okay Lord. That’s it. You’ve wiped me out. You’ve taken everything I ‘owned’ and now I truly am bankrupt. So where do we go from here?”
I was wrong, for my first brother took his life five months later. I was truly bankrupt and alone. Wow! Who would have thought? Not me, in a million years, I never would have conceived of such a thing happening in my family.
As I sat to write this blog, having read Chapter 6, I had to flip through the book to find the names of the two companions; ‘ouch’ was my first thought! Had I known then what these years of days would involve, there is no way being who I was then, that I would have jumped into this journey. Maybe I would have started, you know that initial amazing feeling of love when you say yes to this indescribable first love with Yeshua. Quite frankly, I am surprised as anyone that I kept picking myself up and continuing; yet I know He carried me, especially the past few years.
I have been an island, an oasis in the middle of a desert that has been very, very dry for the last four years, since the loss of my brother who I love so very much! So again I say, “Surely, Lord, it can’t get any dryer than this. Living in isolation, no family around, no one near and dear to me during those desert times to console me. Surely Lord, it can’t get any worse!”
I began to read, expecting the worst. I noted what caught my attention and will share those points with you. Perhaps you or someone you know is going through desert and dry times, in the valley of loneliness; perhaps the valley of sorrow. May my story help you in your journey.
Chapter 6 – Detour Through the Desert
This is a summation of key points and my reflection on these and where I was, what I did, how I responded and what I think in this moment.
MA freaked out when she saw the vast expanse of dry desert and stopped dead in her tracks. Once again she said she couldn’t do this; no way. She felt sick and that old feeling of fear (remember her name is Much Afraid) came roaring back in!
How often I have thought there is no way I can or will do this. Surely Yeshua doesn’t mean it. I’d search Scripture trying to find a line or two, to take out of context and twist its meaning to say what I wanted it to say.
Where she found herself, looking into the vast expanse of desert, was on a praecipe that left her no alternative. If she wanted to move at all, it had to be in the direction of the desert. There was no other way out!
In my journey the Lord has brought me to places of being between a rock and a hard place. I’ve often referred to these situations of having no choice but to move forward as being my “Red Sea” experiences:
high mountains on both sides that I could not climb, the enemy closing in on me from behind, and nothing but a vast expanse of waters ahead of me. I had to step forward. I had no choice and the Lord knew me better than any.
So often when I’ve made the right choice, it wasn’t because I knew it was the right choice. It was because I had no other choice. I had to step into the ocean of darkness and trust. There have been times as well where I wouldn’t even take that first step and I know the Lord carried me across.
MA stood and screamed out to Yeshua who was instantly there. She argued with him telling him that surely he couldn’t mean it; that he promised her she was headed for High Places and this was a mistake. How many times I have argued with Yeshua saying much the same thing. We all know how this ends, don’t we? Eventually she says yes, half-heartedly, and continues the journey because Yeshua has promised her that he will be travelling with her and her companions Sorrow and Suffering.
Yeshua promise to be with MA helped, just as it has always helped me knowing no matter what kind of a stew I found myself in, I was never alone, Yeshua is always with me and but a whisper of my heart and immediately his presence is felt.
We are told that when MA took that first step forward she, “felt a thrill of the sweetest joy and comfort surge through her, for she found that the Shepherd himself was going down with them.”
They descend and Yeshua is singing a song that helps MA forget her pain and disappointment. These are the words of the song,
The Closed Garden
A garden closed art thou, my love,
Where none thy fruits can taste,
A spring shut up, a fountain sealed,
An orchard run to waste.
Awake north wind! and come, though south!
Blow on my garden fair,
That all the spices may flow out
As perfume on the air. (Cant. 4:12-16)
MA is, “leaning on the Shepherd and did not feel her weakness at all.”
Whenever my journey continues in this awareness of the presence of Yeshua, nothing seems impossible to me. When, however, I try to do something “my way” it is tough and more difficult; and the agony is prolonged. When MA was starting this journey through the desert she had complained that this detour could take forever, maybe even years to complete.
==>Our Restricting Attitudes
As humans I believe we view time, space and distance other than what it actually is (at least in the eyes of Creator). MA certainly thought it was going to take a long time to complete her journey.
We also put limitations on ourselves when it comes to the matter of age. I am in that very spot right now. It is not that I do not have qualifications, I do. But they do not seem to be working for me and I have said to myself that I am ‘too old’ to be learning a new trade. Anyone know that expression, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”
Then the Lord reminds me of the people in the Bible who became his great servants. Several of them were 80 plus when their ‘assignment’ started. David was a kid when he was told, and it was many years later he became king. Moshe (Moses) roamed around etc. etc. and I think was well over 80 when he helped the people out of Pharaoh’s clutches in their escape from Egypt
I came to know some of my gifts over time, the ability to see things, to know things, to pray for people in response to their unspoken words, knowing what they needed; the ability to use these gifts when I am writing or speaking in person, because Spirit knows who will see, who will hear and what is needed.
Back to MA and Yeshua. Fast forward and there they are at the foot of a huge pyramid that appears out of nowhere. Yeshua now says to MA that, “all of my servants on their way to the High Places have had to make this detour through the desert. It is called ‘The Furnace of Egypt, and an horror of great darkness'” (Genesis 15:12, 17)
Yeshua reassures MA by telling her that his very first servant Abraham journeyed this way and then there was Joseph. He tells her how they too anguished, but finally accepted, and
“They came to learn the secret of royalty, and now you are here MA. You too are in the line of succession. It is a great privilege and if you will, you also may learn the lesson of the furnace and of the great darkness just as surely as did those before you. Those who come down to the furnace go on their way afterwards as royal men and women, princes and princesses of the Royal Line.”
I can just picture MA standing there as she looked up trying to see the tip of that huge pyramid that stood towering over her! She was intimidated but at the same time captivated by its majesty.
“Then all of a sudden the desert was full of people, an endless procession of them.”
Among them was Abraham and Sarah, “those first lonely exiles in a strange land” and Joseph “betrayed and wounded brother sold into slavery” were among them with a whole host of others, too many to count.
The last one in the line held out his hand and MA took it, the last in this long chain of people and “Words came to her ears…” and she heard them telling her not to be afraid to go down into Egypt, because
“I will there make of thee a great nation; I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again.” (Genesis 46:3)
Yeshua takes MA inside the Pyramid and she sees a huge spiraling staircase going upwards and she couldn’t see where it ended. Of course she, like I did, thought she’d be heading up the stairs. Forever, I am constantly wanting to climb up, never continue along the same even plain, nor definitely go down!
==>The Threshing Floor
Yeshua takes her to a door on the main floor and when he opens it the room is filled with
great piles of different kinds of grain everywhere except in the middle where men were thrashing the grain in different methods, making them powder; some coarse, some smooth, some finer. Women were working to one side of the room, sitting on the floor with hollow, smooth stones grinding the very best of the wheat into the finest possible powder.
MA noted that the grains were:
- first beaten
- then bruised until they
- crumbled into pieces, but
- still grinding and beating continued [and I said, how much more Lord, how much longer, aren’t I ready yet?]
At this point Yeshua’s comments to her pretty much matched her own thoughts.
“See how various are the methods used for grinding the different varieties of grain, according to their special use and purpose.”
Now, something I do not ever remember reading, but am sure I did but never ‘saw’ was Yeshua’s reference to different types of plants and the threshing process each endures to its perfection for use. This is a whole other blog subset for me, but here are the plants that he mentions:
- Bread Corn. In referencing the corn there is a notation in the book of Isaiah 28:27, 28, which no doubt gives further insight.
Again MA is daunted by how long everything is taking, just as I have been daunted at how long the process of my refinement is taking and continually am praying that soon, sooner than later Lord, can we back off the refinement, surely I am ‘almost’ ready. Spirit just said to me,
“Almost ready is not ready and is not good enough; is not the Best.”
Yeshua tells MA that he brings his people
“into Egypt that they too may be threshed and ground into the finest powder and may become bread corn for the use of others. But remember, though bread corn is bruised, no one threshes it for ever; only until the bruised and broken grain is ready for its highest use.”
Again I repeat, “Oh cra*!”
They go back to the central chamber of the Pyramid and Yeshua takes her up the stairs. I can just see MA sighing and mumbling ‘finally’ under her breath!
They step off the stairs on the first floor and enter a room where there is a potter working. Oh boy are my thoughts as I think of the story in the bible about the potter. Yeshua tells MA that in Egypt he too fashions his
“fairest and finest vessels and bring forth instruments for my work, according as I see fit” (Jeremiah 18)
He smiles at MA and adds, “Cannot I do with you, MA, as this potter? Behold as the clay is in the hand of the potter so are you in my hand.” (Jeremiah 18:6)
Leaving the room Yeshua takes her up the stairs to the highest floor and enter another room.
==>The Fiery Furnace
There’s a furnace in the room that is smelting gold, refining all its dross. So, I think I’m looking pretty good these days, the Lord has certainly been burning away a lot of the things I once thought I could not live without, just to discover I am doing fine without.
The message that I am hearing is it is going to be a little while longer because there is still some dross within you, perhaps that I am not even aware of in this moment. I
must continue to trust Yeshua and allow him to do his finest.
He has brought me to the point that no matter what, this knowing that I know (and feel and sense) His Presence so surely is a part of me, then nothing else matters. I have climbed mountains, slept in caves and repeatedly returned to the same cave until I got that lesson; I have gone down into valleys and partied with the good folks, forgetting what I’d learned earlier, so I had to once again go back to a desert or crawl back into the cave of isolation.
MA noticed some pieces of stones and rocks containing crystals in the furnace and when they were taken out they were gorgeous jewels, “flashing as though they had received the fire into their very hearts.”
Yeshua speaks referring to her as “afflicted, tossed with tempest, not comforted” and says he’s going to “lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. …thy windows of agates … gates of carbuncles … borders of pleasant stones.”
I think the mention of specific gems, i.e., sapphires, warrants they be researched for their properties, colours, and energies.
They finally left the pyramid and returned to the huts where they and Sorrow and Sadness had been staying. MA is pretty exhausted and her head is swelling with all that has happened. She needs to be alone. It’s no different for me when I have been bombarded with things that impact me so greatly; needing time to be apart, just as Yeshua did, in order to relax and gently think about what has transpired and allow myself to understand any message(s).
The following morning was there last day at the Pyramid and MA took a stroll. She saw a pipe and looking down seeing a tiny yellow flower in the midst of the dessert, no other greenery. There was a small hole in the pipe and occasionally a drop of water fell to the ground where the flower now grew and stood tall with her face turned up towards the droplet of water.
MA noted how it was possible for the flower to grow because it had water, but she puzzled wondering where in heaven’s name the seed came from.
She asked the flower her name and the flower said, “Acceptance With Joy.”
I often say that I have certain things “planted in the soil of the garden in my heart,” seeds planted long ago, that come to life at the right time when needed. I called my first book of poetry “Fragrances from the Garden of My Heart.”
You will know what I am talking about if you have a certain Scripture that comes to mind in situations you encounter. I’ve never sat down to memorize anything from the bible. I just read and some words or verses just stayed with me. Over the course of time, from time to time, one or another of these would arise at a time in which they were very appropriate.
My Closing Prayer: My Heart Sings to Yeshua in this Moment
I hear Spirit telling me to hold on, it’s just around the corner, and I am this moment responding saying:
- Oh Lord, how I thank you for carrying me,
- holding my hand,
- refining me, and
- never giving up on me.
- I thank you for loving me until I could love myself.
- I thank you for forgiving me until I could forgive myself.
- Again I say, and cannot say it enough, I thank you for never giving up on me until I never gave up on me.
- I thank you for BEing the best part of ME.