Hinds Feet

Going away to the mountains is always a good idea; especially if you want to interrogate God about what you are supposed to do with your life, while also letting him know you aren’t particularly pleased with its current particulars. I’m a bit befuddled in soul right now, so my mom, wisely, sent me packing for a night away at a nearby cabin. It had a lovely porch swing and an airy bedroom and a steady supply of coffee. Set right at the feet of great, jutting boulders, in the foothill valleys that rise to flank Pikes Peak, my cabin was perfected for meditation, prayer, and… climbing. I don’t know what possessed me, but instead of relaxing, I spent half my time acting like a mountain goat. In my heart and feet was an insatiable desire and a restless energy that set me on a series of long scrambles up red, muddy hillsides, out onto craggy, storm-shadowed cliff edges in quest of, well, I wasn’t sure what. A deeper drink of storm sky. A wider view. An end to my fitful thoughts.

Halfway up a canyon edge this morning, with thunder grumbling below, and an unexpected downpour soaking my uncovered head, I decided that this climbing was a metaphor of my life. More than a metaphor- my heart feels that this summer has been a literal lung taxing, foot bruising scramble after God; his presence in my workaday life, his love amidst my fallenness, his will for me in a world of unlimited options and frightening isolation. I plopped myself down under some scrubby pines, embraced the fact that I was going to come out of this muddy, and asked God point blank how much longer I was going to have to climb. The answer, surprisingly, was immediate. It was in question form, of course, but clear as dawn: it all depended on what I chose to accept.

Until now, I realized, my life has been a mountain life. The road of my soul has been up cliff edges of prayer and crags of stony conviction. From birth (good grief), my parent’s choices of ministry, missions, and their decision to stand against culture in many areas, has set me on a scramble up wild trails and roads roughened by lack of human travel. Being a writer makes me alone. Being an idealist sets me smack in the wilderness. Every part of my life and thought seems tailor made to cast me into a soulish wilderness. I was born to the mountain life. In all my years, God has never set, formed, or offered a valley life for my days.

But oh, how I have begged for the valley. How I have pleaded for rest, for ease, for relief from the dramatically beautiful, yet utterly demanding road that runs into the mountain ways of my God. I am tired of being lonely, of trying hard, of being misunderstood, of hurting. Loving God seems always to lead up mountainsides. Maybe that’s it. Perhaps we are all called to this mad mountain dash when we follow God. All I know is, it’s a body and soul and heart and breath demanding scramble. We all eventually come to exhaustion, as I have of late, and when we do, God gives us a choice. He really does. I believe we can reject the mountains and run for the grasslands. I’ve wanted that, even prayed about it, prayed it would be God’s way for me. But it came to me this morning that perhaps my prayers have been blind. Do I truly only want the valley life?

I have prayed for ease because I was weary, but perhaps what I should pray for is vigor. Not release from struggle, but a newborn strength that will help me to bear the wilds of this wondrous road. Not escape, but a heart sparked by hope, a will empowered by supernatural courage. Who can walk to the high and holy places of God? Those who rise on the strength of His own wings. Who can traverse impossible ways with him, as Abraham and David, Joshua and Jesus? Those who pray not for escape, but for zeal, for Spirit’s breath in their lungs, and Spirit fire kindling their hearts to endure. We can run for the valley and God will still love us, but I decided last night that I don’t want to. With David, I want to believe that:

God girds me with strength and makes my way blameless.
He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.
He trains my hands for battle so that I can bend a bow of bronze.
His right hand upholds me. His gentleness makes me great.
He enlarges my steps under me. My feet have not slipped. (Psalm 18)

Lord help me. Mountain life, here I come.


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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Hinds Feet

  1. Cheryl Hollifield

    Oh Sarah. I have been thinking of you and praying for you lately and this must be why. God is making you into such a beautiful woman inside and out. You are so precious to Him whether it feels like that or not. What a good mother you have to send you away like that to think and BREATHE!!!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It gives one more specific things to pray about when thinking of you..

    Bless you sweet friend,
    “Mrs.” Cheryl Hollifield from VA

  2. Sarah,
    I found your blog from your mom’s, so glad she linked to this post. I want to shout: YES! Your conclusion is absolutely right on. Not an easier road, but strength for the journey. Not an improvement (as we see it) in circumstances, but joy in the midst of them. That’s the essence of the gospel, anyway…not gritting our teeth and trying harder, but surrendering all and receiving HIS power, strength, and stamina for what He’s called us to. Thank you for this excellent reminder!

    So glad you got some time away, what a gift that was. I will bookmark your site now and visit again!

    Blessings,
    Rachel

  3. How often I have also longed for the pleasure of the valley but God continually draws us to the hills. From there we experience the struggles of the climb, the mess but we also are blessed to experience the beauty and the feelings of His presence. In this way, Sarah, I feel as though we are kindred spirits and though I am older (a mere 41) I have experienced this for all of my life in one way or another. My prayers are with you as you seek Him and that you experience the joy and exhilaration of the climb.

  4. You are much ahead of me.

    I think I was in my late 30s before God got through to me that the valleys were few and only there to refresh and nourish… to let us catch our breath so to speak… before He sends us back to the path, which is always taking us higher and higher.

    Thus, it has to be a mountain. 🙂

    When I came to realize there would be no miraculous and magic day when the mountain would be no more (in this lifetime), I was no longer looking over my shoulder at the past or too far ahead in the future.

    It became possible to live one day at a time given the circumstances in which He allowed. Easy to live at times, not always easy to understand.

  5. I, too, popped over from your mom’s blog. I’ll be back. WOW! What a very powerful post-how amazing to see your beautiful passionate God-following heart so clearly. Yes, to pray for vigor, not ease..

  6. Tara

    From one mountain-climbing idealist to another…….even though I am older than you, I completely understand where you are at – I’ve been there many times myself.

    I don’t think you can be an idealist without climbing mountains. It comes with the job description. Yes, there is a choice to run to the valley (I’ve had that choice placed before me so many times) and yet to do so would be a complete denial of who God made you to be. To run to the valley would kill the very soul whose discomfort you are trying to relieve.

    So, dear one…you’ve chosen well. Keep dreaming, keep feeling and keep climbing. The view is great from the top (so I’m told – I haven’t made it there yet!).

  7. B.

    Thank you so much! This is just what I needed to read/hear………….. I have done far too much begging for valleys lately. I really needed the reminder to change the nature of my prayers. May God bless you abundantly for sharing your mountain moment with us.
    Much Love in Him,
    B.

  8. Jennifer

    Sarah,
    I am writing to you as a mother. Please follow your heart and keep climbing those mountians. Be strong and courageous. We “lost” our oldest daughter (just a couple of years older than you are) two years ago. She was raised much like you have been. She decided she was tired of the mountain climbing. But she wasn’t as strong as we thought she was. She, too, was struggling with the loneliness that sometimes accompanies trying to live a life pleasing to the Lord. She bought into the world’s lies that there was something better. We now have very little contact with her, and she seems very far away from God. I ache for her daily, and have to lean on the Lord to take care of her. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the valley is better. It isn’t. I will lift you up in prayer today, along with my daughter. I will pray God will sustain you, encourage you, and hold you up through the tough times. I will also pray that God will send you kindred spirits to love the Lord right alongside of you!
    Thank you for your blog. I so enjoy reading it. We have much the same taste in music, literature, art, etc. You have a wonderful mind. Your writing ministers even to me – a mother of eight! Thanks again!
    Jennifer

  9. Andrea M

    Oh my dear!
    This was encouraging, nourishing, invigorating, and so truthful. I wonder, though, that if all Christians felt this way and truly accepted the struggle of pursuing God in all His uphill ways, if we would be all that lonely? Wouldn’t there be more people ON the mountain to help carry us, encourage us, and wipe tears from our eyes, and, of course, make us laugh and be joyful that we have been created for such a glorifying purpose? You just did that for me!
    I’m sending a hug from CA to you!

    ~your Andrea

  10. Diane Nelson

    Dear Sarah – You are a dear one. And God has blessed you, to have such sight at such a young age. I wanted to send you the web address of another one of God’s precious ones – a young woman, just turned 27 about a week or so ago. I think you would be encouragement to each other. Her site is: lovingthelord.org

    God bless you both.

  11. jeanette sanchez

    Your verse reminds me of a book titled Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard, it’s my favorite book.

  12. Tami

    Everything I see in you, I want in my children, but when I read your blog I am forced to ask myself if I am willing to see them being beaten down by the world over and over again…the narrow road is a lonely place to be. I pray you continue to take the road less taken; we are in desperate need of youthful, godly warriors that will impact his generation and those to come. Remember, satan is a roaring lion, seeking to destroy everything Biblical that your parents have instilled in you, every ideal that the Lord has placed in your heart. Be encouraged that the lessons you are “willing” to learn now, has taken most of us well into our 30’s to learn the hard way (with consequences). Only mountain climbing will give you spiritual muscles and I am sure that with the great things the Lord has planned for you, you will need them. I praise God for the encouragement He gave you; it helps me to trust that He will do the same for my children when needed. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  13. You write beautifully and I am thankful for this post!

  14. Whenever I make it up those treacherous mountain passages — feet aching, fears o’ertaking, knees quaking — I am struck by the view from the ledge. Awestruck I beam as I scan the horizons, drinking in the beauty and majesty all around. I am never the same. And I am grateful to my loving God and Guide for this opportunity to meet gain amongst the pain.

  15. Pingback: Mountain-Climber or Valley-Dweller? | Texas Homesteader

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