I find her journey usually breaking me just where I need it.
Oh what bold challenges this sweet timid friend finds for me!
I hope I don't spoil any of the plot for you, but I'll share three spots on her journey that have invigorated my heart most of all this week:
~ After traveling through the harsh desert, Much-Afraid found a flower, and after learning the flower's name, she replied with words that I want to be true in me, of me too. "He has brought me here when I did not want to come, for his own purpose. I, too, will look up into his face and say, 'Behold me! I am thy little handmaiden Acceptance-with-Joy.'"
~ After collapsing in fear when she saw the tall precipice that she would have to climb next and choosing poorly for a short spell, Much-Afraid finally called for the Shepherd to come. "She sat and looked at him and saw that he was smiling... The shame in her eyes met no answering reproach in his, and suddenly she found words echoing in her heart which other trembling souls had spoken. "My Lord is of very tender compassion to them that are afraid.""
~ In Chapter 10, when Much-Afraid is nearing the top of the Precipice Injury, she finds another flower in the most barren rock landscape she's yet been in. "Just then she looked up at the cliffs above her head and started with surprise and delight. In a tiny crevice of the rock, where a few drops from the trickling waterfall could occasionally sprinkle it, was a single plant. It had just two or three leaves, and one fragile stem, almost hairlike in its slenderness, grew out at right angles to the wall. On the stem was one flower, blood red in color, which glowed like a lamp or flame of fire in the early rays of the sun...
"What is your name, little flower, for indeed I never saw another like you."
At that moment the sun touched the blood-red petals so that they shone more vividly than ever, and a little whisper rustled from the leaves.
"My name is Bearing-the-Cost, but some call me 'Forgiveness'.... I was separated from all my companions, exiled from home, carried here and imprisoned in this rock. It was not my choice, but the work of others, who, when they had dropped me here, went away and left me to bear the results of what they had done....I have borne and have not fainted; I have not ceased to love, and Love helped me push through the crack in the rock until I could look right out onto my Love the sun himself. See now! There is nothing whatever between my Love and my heart, nothing around to distract me from him. He shines upon me and makes me to rejoice and has atoned to me for all that was taken from me and done against me. There is no flower in all the world more blessed or more satisfied than I, for I look up to him as a weaned child and say, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire but thee.'"
Friends, I hope you'll be able to get your hands on a copy and that your heart will be as blessed and challenged as mine has been. And if you do read it, I'd really love to hear your thoughts too!
And a little PS- This book might hit women better than men because it is written with fair emotion and the main character is a woman very full of emotion. And it is good.... so good. If you are at all in need of a gift for a woman in your life, I most highly recommend this gem.
And for more great words of today, Kevin DeYoung has just written some great challenges to my generation of Christians to fan into flame again a passion for beautifully holy lives. Oh for more Much-Afraids today!