“When they reached the slopes of the mountain, Grace and Glory stood still in delighted surprise, for stretching before her were fields of slender reeds, swaying in the breeze and tossing lightly in rhythmic motion like waves or a slightly rolling sea…”
Lately, I’ve been re-reading Mountains of Spices – the sequel to the classic Christian allegory Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.
In the original story, a trembling, crippled, and deeply unhappy girl named Much-Afraid is invited by the Shepherd King to accompany Him on a journey that will transform her inside and out, and give her feet like a deer (or a hind) so that she can bound across the mountain heights. In the second book, the girl formerly known as Much-Afraid has become “Grace and Glory.” But she discovers she still has a lot to learn about the Kingdom of Love — and the Fruit of the Spirit, in particular.
One day the Shepherd leads her to a lofty mountain, covered in dancing reeds that make a beautiful sound and give off a gorgeous perfume – “very fresh and fragrant and soothing.”
“He pointed out to her exquisite grace and lovely, unresisting meekness with which they [the reeds] bowed themselves before the wind, sometimes right to the ground, only to sweep upright again from that low position, without apparent effort or strain of any kind, as soon as the wind had passed over them. A lovely gracious submissiveness characterized their every movement and yet at the same time there was something grandly regal about the poise and perfect control of their motions, no weakness of any kind but the most perfect command.”
What a great definition of gentleness or submission! It’s not weakness, apathy, passivity; it’s strength and power under control.
A truly submissive spirit comes from a place of confidence and authority. It’s a choice, made freely – not under compulsion.
“No one takes [My life] from Me; I lay it down of My own free will.” (John 10:18)
Standing on the mountainside, Grace and Glory realizes that the lovely fragrance called “gentleness, sympathy, and loving understanding was developed by the daily practice of bending submissively to life’s hard and difficult experiences without bitterness, or resentful resistance and self-pity.”
That last part is the hard part, isn’t it?
I like to think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned not to sweat as much of the small stuff… I’m much more flexible. I’ve learned to bend through a lot of life’s challenges, to persevere and endure. And to trust – or at least to wait and see a while, before rushing out to make posters declaring the end of the world is nigh.
The more I’ve lost or had to let go of, the more I (sometimes) find myself clinging tightly to what I have left. Stubbornly determined to control the things I think I can control while mourning or resenting the things I can’t.
But there’s a difference between submission and stoicism, submission and resignation.
Like Grace and Glory, I want the former — a truly gentle and submissive spirit, fully and joyfully surrendered to the will of God. I’m learning it comes ultimately from faith in the nature and character of Jesus, “the One who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“Tis Love that plans my lot, not fate;
Lord, teach this grace to me.”
I’m discovering that the best way to receive this grace, to embrace this Truth in the very depths of my being is to spend more time in His presence. Pressing in, holding on tight to Him.
Because as I’m getting older, I find I need Him more and more – not less.
How are you learning to bend in your present season of life?
Latest posts by Christin Ditchfield (see all)
- Learning to Bend - November 15, 2016
- Could This (Finally) Be Our Year? ~ Christin Ditchfield - January 5, 2016
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Such a lovely picture of gentleness,and submission as only comes from Jesus. Thank you.
Christin, I always love reading what you have to say, because you are a dear, wise friend and wonderful author. This resonates on many levels. First, it’s great counsel for a new bride, which soon you’ll be. 🙂 Second, I was talking at women’s ministry today (just around a table) about my former life at the USO. Its original director had said, “Flexibility is a USO worker’s middle name,” and as I followed in her footsteps, following that advice kept me level and prepared to meet many challenges (just call me Lynn Flexibility Morrissey!) Third, as you know, I am preparing for a solo trip to Iona, off the west Scotland (at the end of the earth) next year, to join a group of intrepid women travelers who are meeting for a spiritual retreat of pilgrimage. As providence would have it, I found a devotional book which is combined with Hinds Feet on High Places (left side: the Hurnard text; right side: devo + space for journaling). When I read your opening quote, I thought it sounded a lot like her writing. Once I finish her first book, I’ll get the second (I’d not realized there were two). I’ve always wanted to read this allegory, and never had done so. It’s perfect reading for a trip which I fear and will challenge me physically as well as emotionally and, hopefully, spiritually. I know I am Much Afraid (hmmm…. maybe you can call me Mucho Much Afraid)! When I went with my daughter in 2011 on a missions trip to the Czech Republic (without my rock, Michael), I was petrified… even in the company of a Christian group, because we would be in a country still overwhelmed by the after-effects of Communism; we were given a number of warnings. God so gently spoke to me about my Good Shepherd, and Psalm 23 resonated with me in a way it never had before. I was so comforted to read of the Good Shepherd in Hurnard’s book. Christin, I sense God’s call to take this literal journey, and I thank you for this great encouragement to remind me that as I submit to the Shepherd’s will, all will be well. Love you so much, and I thank you for you faithfulness to help us to live deeper and to go higher w/ Him!!
Sweet Friend, so excited for you in this new adventure — you will LOVE HH’s book 🙂 And so blessed by your example, continuing to grow in grace and wisdom, in beauty and maturity, day by day… Much love to you and many prayers on your behalf! xoxo
What a beautiful picture of submission! -“a truly gentle and submissive spirit, fully and joyfully surrendered to the will of God.”
Standing on the mountainside, Grace and Glory realizes that the lovely fragrance called “gentleness, sympathy, and loving understanding was developed by the daily practice of bending submissively to life’s hard and difficult experiences without bitterness, or resentful resistance and self-pity.” May we live a life that is fragrant to God! Thanks for these beautiful words!
Amen! And thank you!
What a beautiful word picture of having a submitted yielded heart. This is so timely for me as God is speaking to me lately about meekness and humility.
This quote truly gripped me, “gentleness, sympathy, and loving understanding was developed by the daily practice of bending submissively to life’s hard and difficult experiences without bitterness, or resentful resistance and self-pity.” (Hannah Hurnard) This is exactly what I’ve been learning to do…bend submissively to life’s hard experiences without bitterness. And, God is so good, Christin! He’s been so patient with me as I learn this life lesson! It has been a battle, but a battle won with the help of our God. Thanks for sharing!
It isn’t easy, is it? But you’re right — He’s so patient and so faithful, in His tender love for us. Hugs!
So beautifully written. “a truly gentle and submissive spirit, fully and joyfully surrendered to the will of God.” This what we all want to be.
Thank you, sweet friend!