Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Literary Alter Ego

I've been reminded recently of a literary character from a book I read, shortly after coming to Christ. It's the main character from what is now considered a classic Christian work, written in 1955 by Hannah Hurnard. The book is called "Hinds Feet On High Places."

When I first read the book (decades ago), I could really relate to this character, although I didn't admit it...well, to anyone. Here I am (decades later), and I realize I can still relate to this character quite easily. If you've read a good number of my posts, what I'm about to confess won't come as a great surprise.

I wish I could say my alter ego was someone bold and courageous. That this character was full of faith and zeal, ready to do daring exploits for God. Actually, it would be nice if this character was even a guy.

But sadly, the character I speak of is a young girl in Hurnard's allegorical story named Much Afraid. You'll have to read the book to get the full effect of what I'm saying. But Much Afraid, as you might guess, is afraid of many things. It's a great story with a wonderful message and a great ending. But Much Afraid realizes her strength and courage doesn't come from within but from her relationship with the Shepherd.

Apart from Him, she is...Much Afraid. As am I.

Left to drift, my mind will often wander toward any number of what-if scenarios. Most are extensions of the present situation going badly. From this, fretting comes. My mind then creates plans, intended to be solutions, to each of the what-if scenarios. But these are mere illusions, intending to bring me peace, because now we have a plan. It's a good plan. It covers all the bases. Things are back under control.

For a little while, the illusion holds. But stuff happens. I didn't cover all the bases; it's not a good plan; I'm not in control.

The victory, I'm learning, is to realize I never have control. Whenever I think I'm in control, that's the illusion. Whether the situation is so overwhelming that it shakes me to the core, or just mildly confusing, it is equally out of my control.

Much Afraid eventually comes to realize where her hope and strength comes from. It is wrapped in a dependent relationship with the Shepherd. This weakness and uncertainty I feel is not an illusion; it is a doorway to grace, an opportunity to experience a genuine peace, deep down inside. And I don't even need to know what the plan is. I just need to know the One who leads me.

That He is a Good Shepherd. Good in nature, and good at leading me. I don't need to have answers for any of my what-if scenarios. The fretting is replaced by a peace that is better than the illusion of peace that comes from my own plans. It is a peace that surpasses understanding, superior in every way.

Because my Good Shepherd is also the Great I Am, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. The One who holds worlds and galaxies in place, who loves me with an everlasting love and gave Himself up for me. I am not set adrift in this life to wander as an orphan. Things are not just happening to me.

He holds me all the while in the very palm of his hand.

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