Heather Marshall on October 3rd, 2008

I’m reading a great book called Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It’s one of my mom’s favorites, and I bought it a few years ago to read… but I’m just getting around to reading it now. It’s a great little allegory about a girl, Much-Afraid, who goes on a journey to the High Places with her beloved Shepherd. Throughout the journey (with her companions Sorrow and Suffering), she encounters many obstacles and enemies (including her relatives Craven Fear, Self-Pity, Bitterness, Resentment, and Pride) which try to turn her back to where she’d been living, in the Valley of Humiliation.

The story is a great one, with plenty of takeaways for my own personal growth and development, as I too am on a journey through this life, growing in Christ as I strive for the High Places. The version I have also contains a daily devotional for women on every other page.

422787: Hinds" Feet on High Places: The original and complete  allegory with a devotional for women Hinds’ Feet on High Places: The original and complete allegory with a devotional for women

By Hannah Hurnard

A devotional for women, this book includes the entire text of the classic allegory as well as tender devotions written by Darien B. Cooper. Each devotion is so placed and prepared to bring the story’s principles to life in each reader, and to draw the reader closer to her Shepherd in a personal, living relationship.

Today, as I was reading, I felt like God was speaking to me through the words that seemed to jump off the page at me, and so I decided to share it with you.

In this excerpt, Much-Afraid has reached the border to the High Places, and there she is gazing up at a mighty waterfall, the waters of which are tumbling over the towering cliffs, casting themselves down onto the rocks below.  Much-Afraid sees the waters’ self-giving as beautiful and terrible - terrible because of “the awful height from which they must cast themselves down to the depths beneath, there to be broken on the rocks.”

The Shepherd tells her, though, that “these are the Falls of Love, flowing from the High Places in the Kingdom above.”

Here’s where I’d like to pick up in the story….  as Much-Afraid is beginning to see the waters through the eyes of The Shepherd….

“Laughing and shouting at the top of their voices, [the waters] hurried still lower and lower, down through the meadows to the next precipice and the next glorious crisis of their self-giving.  From there they would again cast themselves down to the valleys far below.  Far from suffering on the rocks, it seemed as though every obstacle in the bed of the torrent was looked upon as another object to be overcome and another lovely opportunity to find a way over or around it. Everywhere was the sound of water, laughing, exulting, shouting in jubilation.

“‘At first sight perhaps the leap does look terrible,’ said the Shepherd, ‘but as you can see, the water itself finds no terror in it, no moment of hesitation or shrinking, only joy unspeakable, and full of glory, because it is the movement natural to it.  Self-giving is its life. It has only one desire, to go down and down and give itself with no reserve or holding back of any kind.  You can see that as it obeys that glorious urge the obstacles which look so terrifying are perfectly harmless, and indeed only add to the joy and the glory of the movement.’”  (Hind’s Feet on High Places p. 248)

As we wonder how to love our husbands more, our kids more, our in-laws more, our neighbors more, our church family more, strangers more… we need to realize that selflessness needs to be at the core of it all!

As I was searching my heart this last week or so, God was revealing to me an ugliness that was in there… it was an ugliness that was making my heart bitter and my countenance gloomy.  As I searched, God revealed that it was selfishness at the root of it all….. I was looking out for ME more than anyone else! My comforts, my needs.  I served when it was convenient for me, and bowed out of serving when it would interrupt my “me time.”(I am definitely an advocate for taking “me time”, having down time, etc - but as a break from serving, not as an excuse not to serve!)

Somewhere in my journey, I gave into the lie that being comfortable is better than serving.  Or even, that if I give of myself fully, there will be nothing left of me in the end.  If I put my all into my marriage, it will burn me out and leave me dashed and broken upon the rocks.  I looked at the Falls of Love and though, “Ooh, it’s too dangerous.”  Little did I realize (or remember, since my life used to be much more selfless, I don’t know what happened) that JOY comes from self-giving!  Love was meant to be selfless, and we were meant to love!

Recently I was given an opportunity to serve, and I took it…. and the joy it brought was unparalleled to anything I had experienced recently!  My appetite for serving was whet once again, and I knew that it was part of God’s way of calling me home.

How selfless is your love? Do you look to see what you can get out of your marriage, or what you can put INTO it?  Marriages are not 50%/50% ….  they have to be 100%/100%.  Give 100% to your marriage, regardless of what percentage your husband is putting into it, and God will bless your perseverance.  He will bless your selfless love. Look at the imagery of the waters encountering obstacles! Instead of pouting, stopping, changing course or bailing out of the river, the water found joy in overcoming!

Think it’s not fair, to give selflessly, getting nothing in return?  Just think of our Savior… who freely gave up his life for us. For us, who go about our busy lives, barely acknowledging the gift we’ve been given.  Yet He never gives up on us, never stops loving us, never stops forgiving us… even though not a single one of us deserves all the love that He lavishes on us.

I am learning daily how to love like Christ loves…. to love my husband, love my family, love my neighbors… as Christ loves me: Selflessly.

To start? I’m skipping out on a girls’ night tonight to hang out with two very special 13-year-olds who are in need of some love and attention.  They are twins, and Jason works with the boy Petey (check out his blog here, PeteyPower.com!), and his sister is in the classroom next door.  Their home life is rough, and they see my tiny apartment as a safe haven. (I praise God that Jason and I can be that for these kids!) They’re going to sleep over, then go with us to a concert tomorrow night - The Harvest Crusade in Philadelphia, PA, featuring TobyMac, Kutlass, Leeland, and The Katinas, as well as Greg Laurie as the speaker.

What are other ways that we can love selflessly? I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions, or what YOU have done to show selfless love toward your husband, a friend, a stranger, or anyone else! Leave a comment below… as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Keep on Striving,

Heather :)

PS - Interested in getting a copy of Hind’s Feet on High Places for yourself?  Click this link to purchase!

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4 Responses to “The Joy of Selfless Love”

  1. really good. Just what i needed to hear.
    im guilty hands down.
    i was sick yesterday and im out here all alone with no family
    and the baby was awnry and when he cried i cried…haha
    and i told andy tonight was his night to go to church.our church is having revivsl until wed, nite
    and everything whithin me when he got home wanted him to stay because i wanted to have me time and sulk…lol
    but i sucked it up and said i want you to go when he asked to stay home.
    because for him to get blessed in the service was more important than me feeling sorry for myself.
    its a hard thing to do when this world says…its all about you

    thanks for the reminder of Christs selfless love for us!

  2. A long time ago I heard that if you’re depressed, go across town and do something for someone else. It works. When you stop thinking of yourself and start thinking of others and then start doing for others, you always feel better about yourself. I had a wonderful role model in my Aunt Kate. She was like a grandmother to me. But she would always be doing something for someone else. If someone died, she would bake a cake and bring it over. If someone needed a ride, she would volunteer. I try to be like that. I try to do what I can for others. And I usually feel great because I know I made someone else happy. God loves a cheerful giver. And that’s not just money. When you give your time, your energy, your life into others you will have JOY. Joy is Jesus first, Others next, and Yourself last. Works every time. And don’t look for thanks. Do what you do as unto the Lord. You’ll get your reward in heaven. I feel privileged to be able to serve the Lord in whatever way He asks me to.

  3. It can be a very painfull experience when you give up your own confort for the sake of others but believe me, this situation mostly occurs when it does not come from the heart or when we feel forced to? but if you make up your mind to become selfless, the satisfaction becomes countless. imagine you are the creator of the world when dealing with your loved ones or humans in general, always try your best to keep people around you happy and youurself too. life is not a bed of Roses but it can become a pleasant place to live in despite the various problems that are faced on earth. Good luck

  4. I have been trying to live a selfless life and I usually get joy out of bringing joy to others. But lately, I don’t know what’s wrong. All I can think of is how much I do for others and how little I receive back. I know this is wrong and when I try to think of Christ’s suffering for me all I can think of is He is God and I am a man and there’s no way I will ever be able to measure up to His Grace. My pastor says I should pray and read the Bible more. I have unsuccessfully tried but it does not seem to help. Any words of advice/encouragement would be greatly appreciated.

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