TO DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM!
During my first year as a believer, I was given a book entitled “Hinds Feet On High Places” by Hannah Hurnard. I read it in one sitting as I could not pull away from this wonderful allegory. The story is about the journey of a misfit called “Much Afraid” who desired something more than the life she lived and was called by the Great Shepherd to come to His High Places where Perfect Love casts out all fear. She was of the Fearing clan and lived in the Valley of Much Trembling with a dreadful prospect of being forced to marry her cousin Craven Fear.
It is a very compelling allegory depicting all the many obstacles along that path we are all called to walk in our own journey to that same place of perfect peace where perfect love casts out all our fears. Although I read this book so many years ago, it had a tremendous impact on my life and as I had just recommended this book to a new friend, I decided to buy the Kindle version to read again. Here is a small excerpt from this book with some thoughts I wanted to share regarding this particular episode where Much Afraid encounters the Great Shepherd and finally voices her desire to go where He is.
As she spoke she lifted her eyes and looked across the Valley and the river to the lovely sunset-lighted peaks of the mountains, then cried out in desperate longing, “Oh, if only I could escape from this Valley of Humiliation altogether and go to the High Places, completely out of reach of all the Fearings and my other relatives!”
I will very willingly take you there myself.
She looked down at her malformed feet as she spoke, and her eyes again filled with tears and despair and self-pity.
“These mountains are so steep and dangerous. I have been told that only the hinds and the deer can move on them safely.”
I could make yours like hinds’ feet also, and set you upon the High Places.
Hurnard, Hannah (2010-12-03). HINDS FEET ON HIGH PLACES COMPLETE AND UNABRIDGED (Kindle Location 87-104). Wilder Publications. Kindle Edition.
Sometimes, in our more desperate moments, we wish for something that, for us, seems completely impossible to obtain but we still dream of it. So it is with Much-Afraid as she opens her mouth to voice her deepest longings in the presence of the Great Shepherd, not thinking for a moment that her desire would be possible. Imagine, to live in place where you will be far removed from all that causes hurt and pain, sadness and fear, dashed hopes and trampled dreams.
Far too often we look at our circumstances and make our decisions based on our own assessment rather than seeking God’s perspective.
Then, after assessing our own strengths and weaknesses, we look at what is before us and simply cannot believe we can reach that goal. Everything takes on the appearance of something insurmountable.
Then, just when we need it the most, our Great Shepherd promise us that we can be transformed like Him. THIS is the promise we are to keep in our focus, no matter what may come our way to challenge the fulfillment of His promise.
1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self- control, to self- control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:1-8 NKJV)
Of all people, the one person that would know our struggles and our failures is the one who failed and betrayed Jesus first hand. The disciple known as Simon Peter (Cephas) who denied he knew Jesus three times in one night. As bold as he had proclaimed his devotion and love towards Jesus, when it came to the test of this, his statement, he failed miserably. Yet, Jesus knew His friend would fail Him and still, He did not condemn him but instructed him to help his brethren after he recovered. Jesus did not make any attempt to prevent the testing of Peter but prayed that Peter’s faith not fail him. No one else could possibly know the depth of shame and self accusation that Peter endured except for the One who knew him best. Jesus needed to demonstrate this truth to Peter because He was not calling him to walk in his own strength. The only way anyone can follow Jesus was to cast off their own strengths and lean on and trust in that strength found in Jesus’ love for us.
Like many of us, Peter had to learn this the hard way. Sometimes, no matter how many times we may be told, we still cannot bring ourselves to accept that simple fact that we are truly weak and not as strong as we hoped to be. It is only in the depths of our despair and the loneliness of our failures do we begin to dare to hope for something better. Like little Much Afraid, we may voice our ‘impossible to us’ dreams only to hear something none of us ever truly expects to hear. Would Jesus REALLY give us what we truly WANT…what we truly NEED? Yet, Jesus told Peter that ‘after he fell’ and ‘when he recovered’. This meant there was an end to our self deprecation and end to our suffering for the foolishness of our pride.
It starts with an assurance of His promises and is quickly followed by instructions to get us to those promises. Peter outlines for us all, those steps he learned first hand after his own fall. He starts by reminding us that God has given to us ‘great and precious promises’ and how these wonderful promises came into being for us. Only through the knowledge of Him who called us and demonstrated how that through His glory and His virtue, can we receive all that pertains to life and godliness. He is our source for life and through His great and precious promises, we too can live our lives in a way that is pleasing to the Father just as Jesus lived His life pleasing to the Father.
The PROMISE of life He is offering to us, even though it may seem far off and impossible to obtain, He promises to give to us all that we will need to reach that place of perfect peace, the kingdom of His Father, where perfect love casts our all fear. If we begin this journey with Him and do all that He instructs us to do, to lay down what He says we need to lay down, to take up what He says to take up and in spite of what obstacles that may come our way, if we will look to Him for our hope and our next step, He promises to give us all we will need.
What a wonderful promise! What a wonderful Savior! What a wonderful opportunity to see our dreams, His promises, being fulfilled just as He promised! Now, the journey of Much Afraid is just about to begin and there will be many obstacles along the way but this Great Shepherd will not leave her alone but has appointed ‘helpers’ to aid her as she begins this journey but before she begins, there are some things that must be done first. Will she allow Him to plant His seed of love within her heart?
Philippians 2:13 states that it is God who is at work, causing His desire and His ability to work within us. He plants His desire and then, once this desire is fully grown and we find that we do not have the ability to carry it any further, He then gives us of His wonderful ‘grace’, His divine enablement, to ‘power’ us to complete His will. In addition to our faith, Peter shares with us those important elements that we need to seek for and add to our lives: VIRTUE; KNOWLEDGE; SELF-CONTROL; PERSEVERANCE; GODLINESS; BROTHERLY KINDNESS; and finally LOVE. These are those building blocks there were established by our Savior in Peter’s own life to bring him to his destination, to fulfill his dream of becoming like His Savior, a task he later learned, could not be fulfilled in his own strength. It would take something supernatural, a strength and an ability far beyond himself. It would be the ‘impossible dream’ fulfilled but only while he remained in submission to His Lord and Savior.
If Jesus were to appear to you and ask you what you wanted most in your life, what would you say to Him? Would you dare to reach for that ‘impossible dream’? To be just LIKE Him? To live where He lives? To escape all those things that threaten to overwhelm you? To overcome your fears, your dread, your hopelessness? To overcome your shattered hopes, dreams and emotions? To overcome the weaknesses of your flesh? Shall we DARE to ask Him? Will He reject us or will we be surprised that He has been waiting for us to ask Him? It is that very STEP OF FAITH that He is waiting for us to take. And it will be okay for He already knew that we cannot do it ourselves. He is just waiting for us to make the right choices so that He can give to us that strength and ability of His to accomplish what to us was, the impossible dream!