The panel had several people on it and we didn’t have much time to share. I didn’t get to really go into all I’ve been getting out of the book, I thought I would share my thoughts with you all.
First to describe the book to you…it is the story about a girl named, “Much-afraid” who give her life to a shepherd who leads her on journey into the mountains to change her name. She is accompanied by Sorrow and Suffering and is pursued by characters such as Craven fear, pride, self-pity, bitterness and resentment. She must go travel through the wilderness, through the forest, through mist and through storms to get to the mountain range.
I will try to describe some of the situations in the book and what I got out of it. Before that…I want to point out that some of book I found a little dark for lack of a better word.
The Shepherd sent Much-afraid off with Sorrow and Suffering. I do NOT believe that Sorrow and Suffering are from God. I believe God is good and can use anything that happens in our life good. (Romans 8:28). God didn’t send destruction upon Job…the enemy did and God believed that Job was good for the fight so He allowed it. Also, God blesses and brings no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). Because there is sin in the world, we will at times have sorrow and at times will suffer but let’s not blame that on God. I haven’t finished the book yet and I’m hoping that her companions really have different names and it was all some twist in the book…I doubt that is going to happen.
As I have been reading the book, I haven’t really loved Much-afraid. She has kind of annoyed me. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt been Much-afraid at some time in my life. I believe that I would have found me annoying during that time in my life.
1. At the beginning of the journey, the Shepherd tells Much-afraid that she can call on Him and He will be there. As the story unfolds, Much-afraid only calls on the Shepherd occasionally usually when her situation was dire or she had run out of her own strength. This was frustrating. The Shepherd put no limit on how often she could call for Him but she rarely did. I wanted to yell at her to just call Him…all the time. I too have used God as my last resort rather the first resort. It’s not enough to call on the Lord only when you have a need. It’s time to walk with Him daily. Much-afraid could have called on the Shepherd every morning…it was a missed opportunity.
2. Much-afraid has these characters following her on her journey. They are Pride, self-pity, bitterness, resentment. They keep coming around. She can’t cover her ears because she is holding hands with Sorrow and Suffering. (See how none of this sounds like a happy adventure?) She listens to them rather than remembering the promises of the Shepherd. She has a cycle. We all have cycles we go through. I have had bouts of depression in my life…like” can’t get out of my bed for days” depression or maybe more accurately, “don’t leave my house” depression. Most of the time, I can recognize when I’m falling into this cycle. Two times, God has sent people to my house to break the cycle. Both were friends who were insistent that get dressed and go with them. Seriously, it’s good to surround yourself with godly people who will push you. The second time around was when I had a miscarriage. I stayed in bed for three days, watched British serial killer tv series on Netflix one right after the other and took prescribed pain killers to try to kill my over-whelming sadness. Our friends, the Branhams came from where they were living (about 30 miles away) and refused to leave until I got up, showered and had dinner with them. I don’t remember what we did but my friend Suzy made me shower, get out of bed and go somewhere. I realize during that time I was fighting depression and major hormone changes. Still, there are times when I don’t want to get out of bed and I start watching some crazy crime drama on Netflix….it’s a cycle. I have to be aware of it and I have to start throwing rocks at it. Here is the truth. Those “characters” are demons. Once the enemy figures out how to get a foot in the door of your life, He will send the same little imps to try to wiggle in. If it’s fear that you fight, you have to guard against fear. If it’s laziness that stops you from doing what God has directed you to do, then you have to fight the laziness. Fight! I still fight against depression some times, these days I recognize the signs sooner rather than later. These days, I can choose not to linger and not to give in. We all have cycles that we need to recognize and fight against. Call it by name and cast it out in Jesus name.
3. In the book, Much-afraid whines a lot about the journey. She wants to be on the mountain headed to the high places. She finally gets into foothills of the mountains and climbs to a spot where she believes she will be setting foot on the mountain only to find there is a kind of canyon between her and the mountain; a deep chasm. At this place, she has a moment of choice…to throw in the towel or keep going. We all have this moment. Some people have these moments more than once…the moment of “Is this the life I want?”. In the book, she thinks about her life without the Shepherd and how empty and alone she would be. She thinks about how if she were void of the love for the Shepherd her life would be dead. Here is the thing…the love of Christ is what makes us alive. We can go back to being dead but we will always know how it felt to be fully alive. Once you have lived, going back to being dead…well, you know too much…once you have been alive, being dead again is nearly impossible…you will always know what you know. I’ve had a couple of these moments. I’ve told God,” I love Jesus but I can’t do this anymore.” To which He replied, “What are you going to do?” and I answered ridiculous things like, “I’m going to hide out and just do what I want to do.” He would answer, “Ok. Let me know how that works for you.”. The truth is, I couldn’t just go on with my life like before….I know too much. To know and not act accordingly is just as frustrating to our lives as not getting to the place we believe God has shown us He is taking us. You can’t give up…you know too much too. Which all leads to number 4.
4. God gives us dreams and then asks us to burn them upon an alter. Throughout the story, Much-afraid builds alters and burns things…like her will. It has been my experience that God will even require you to give back to Him the dreams He has given you. He will give you a dream…a destination; a picture in your mind’s eye something. He wants you to dream big. He wants to put desires in you that are so big they are scary. He wants to put dreams in you that bigger than anything you can do on your own. He can and will do BIG things. Even though, He gave you the dream, at some point He will require you to give the dream back to Him. This is especially true if you begin making the dream the point; an idol. It’s never about the dream…it’s always about the Dreamgiver. When the dream becomes the goal rather the Dreamgiver being the goal then it will be required. It’s okay. Give it back to Him. The truth is, we take the dream and we build all our ideas around it and how we think it will look or how we think the experience should be and God says, “That’s not My plan.” Our expectations get all crazy and then when it doesn’t happen the way we imagine we are disappointed. When God ask you for the dream, give it back to Him. The secret is, He will return it to you better than what you imagined.
I would love to hear what you got out of the book….