I received this old paperback as a gift from my cousin, Brenda Martens, back at Christmas of 1980. I have read it many times as you could tell if you were to handle and look at my copy, There are many underlinings, passages shaded with a green pencil, and comments in the margin.
But I had not read it in the last 7 or 8 years, and so it came as a bit of a surprise when I found in my journals a list of the 39 lessons I'd seen in it back the first time I read it. I was moved me to re-read the book the week after Christmas 2004.
All over again I've been blessed! What a lovely allegory!
You know, I was so impressed, I started wishing I could order about 100 of them, and give them out left and right as gifts. Not necessarily at Christmas, because I can hardly wait that long, but right away.
Whoa! You ask, "What makes this book so good?"
I can identify with Much-Afraid, and I think many others will too. A little research online, and I discover that it is considered a classic and has had a number of re-issues, so it may be more popular and lying around in more homes than I thought. Check, it might be at your house!
I just haven't heard (or read) of anyone talking about it for quite some time.
This is a simple but profound allegory of a timid young Christian woman who yearns to be taken to new heights in her walk with Christ. Particularly she wants to love with a pure love, and be able to leap on spiritual heights of faith and victory, with hinds' feet, the way her Good Shepherd does.
At first, Much-Afraid is kept captive in her own home by her fearing relatives. They want to marry her off to her cousin, Craven Fear. Almost by accident, she learns how to set them on a run to get away.
The Good Shepherd does plant love in her heart, and takes poor, lame, Much-Afraid up to the heights. But it is by a long way around so she can be strengthened and prepared for the heights.
He also assigns her two guides, Sorrow and Suffering, to go with her. He himself is not always visibly present, but Much-Afraid discovers that when she cries out to Him for help, the Good Shepherd is instantly bounding toward her and comes to rescue or encourage and comfort her.
There are so many parallels to our Christian life and progress as we cover a distance forward, and then often have a setback because we listened to the voice of one of our fearful relatives (thoughts). Or perhaps an encounter with Pride, or Self-Pity.
One helpful feature of this story is that the traits are personified, It makes it easier to see the allegory and catch the kernel of truth.
There is the detour Much-Afraid must take through the desert, and the time she spends on the Shores of Loneliness. Our weak heroine panics and is a basket-case at the bottom of the Great Precipice Injury, however, the Good Shepherd persuades her to start climbing the steep rock face of the mountain, and eventually she does reach the heights.
Another major turning point happens for her, when Much-Afraid gets a name change and discovers her guides have been transformed too. Together they go skipping on the mountains following the paths the Shepherd takes them on, - until one day they spy her home village down in the Valley of Humiliation.
That's when a new plan takes shape.
I have once borrowed the sequel, "Mountains of Spices," which is about the development of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Yes, it's another allegory involving some of the same characters from this book. Right now I'm looking for that one. But in my search I see that Hannah Hurnard has written about half a dozen other books. I think I should try to collect them all.
Kingdom of Love
Wayfarer in the Land
Walking Among the Unseen
If you feel shy and timid about your Christian faith, and you wish you could be bold and confident in your prayers, and have true fellowship with the Lord, daring to venture forth and do greater exploits in His name, then this book is just what you need! Do hunt up "Hinds Feet on High Places," by Hannah Hurnard. Used copies are just pennies on the Amazon Marketplace but all the Christian bookstores have it as new copies. I even saw a children's edition!