For the first time she felt something akin to fear and panic. She was not able to do this thing which he had asked of her. Having reached the altar at last, she was powerless to obey. Turning to those who had been her guides and helpers all the way up the mountains,. She asked for their help, and for them to do what she could not do for herself, to tear the plant [of natural human love and desire] out of her heart. For the first time Suffering and Sorrow shook their heads.
“We have done all that we can for you,” they answered, “but this we cannot do.”
At that the indistinct figure behind the altar stepped forward and said quietly, “I am the priest of this altar – I will take it out of your heart if you wish.”
Much-Afraid turned toward him instantly, “Oh thank you,” she said. “I beg you to do so.”
He came and stood beside her, this form indistinct and blurred by the midst, and then she continued entreatingly, “I am a very great coward. I am afraid that the pain my cause me to try to resist you. Will you bind me to the altar in some way so that I cannot move? I would not like to be found struggling while the will of my Lord is done.”*
Not long ago, I made the decision to pray a prayer I’d never had the courage to pray before. I asked God to take from me anything that I loved more than Him. Or perhaps a more accurate way to put this is that I asked God to do to me whatever He needed to do to make me more fully His. I was terrified to pray this prayer, because I knew what I was risking. And, not at all surprisingly, the thing I was most afraid of loosing was the very thing He asked me to lay down at His feet. I haven’t hurt this badly in a long, long time. And I know it’s not over.
But I’m learning that when God takes something away, He doesn’t leave us empty. Perhaps, someday, He’ll even give those things back, clean and sanctified so that they can be a part of His work in us, drawing us closer to Him in a way they couldn’t before. I pray so. In the meantime, what was once a smiting pain has become a dull ache as He replaces what I’ve given up with more of Himself and as He becomes for me the things that others have been.
I’m still standing.
A little more unsteady than before, but with God’s hand in mine I’m taking my first steps. I might not be ready to leap just yet, but I’m learning to fly.
“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary. They will walk and not be faint… So take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs, and mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet.” (Isaiah 40:30, Hebrews 12:12)
“For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal.” (Job 5:18)
“And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10)
*Hinds Feet on High Places, Hannah Hurnard