Read Philippians 2:1-18
The novel Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard has sold well over 2 million copies in the nearly 40 years it has been in print, earning it secure place in the "classic" section of Christian literature. The novel is a lovely read and a challenging one. However, I particularly enjoyed Ms. Hurnard's Lessons Learned on the Slopes of the High Places. which followed the novel--in my edition of the book. Lessons Learned is essentially a journal Ms. Hurnard kept during a stay in Switzerland in 1948 as she traveled between England and what is now Israel where she served as a missionary. The things the Lord taught her on that journey turned into the allegory over the six years following. The excerpt following is from her journals and is the account of a 30-something single missionary lady discovering the secret to true love.
Lifting my eyes, I look across the valley at the Brumbach falls and see the water pouring itself down in an extraordinary ecstasy of self abandoned giving--and I know this is my Lord’s message to me.
I have asked him to help me to understand the language of this book of nature. And the first message and lesson his creation utters…speaks of love’s ecstatic joy in ceaseless, blissful giving.
1. The first characteristic of love is humility: the pouring of oneself down lower and lower in self effacement and self-denial. The message of running water always is, “Go lower. Find the lowest place. That is the only way to true fulfillment.”
2. The next characteristic of love is giving. The poured-out life gives life and power to others. The more love gives, the more it fulfills itself. “for it is Love’s prerogative to GIVE and GIVE and GIVE.”
3. The third characteristic of love is service. The Brumbach falls, in the act of giving themselves serve the whole valley and far beyond. The water means supply of irrigation, electricity, and light for many, many homes, gardens and orchards. To be utterly abandoned to the goal of giving oneself to others, and going down lower, is the joy and ecstasy of love.
“Perfect love casteth out fear.” Yes, that is what the water utters so exultingly as it rushes toward the great, terrifying rocky lip of the gorge and plunges over, utterly abandoned and unafraid of the dreadful depths into which it must fall, down onto the threatening rocks below.
… If one looks at the falls as a whole, they are marvelously beautiful. But if one gazes at one particular part of the water as it plunges over the lip, and then watches it as it falls right down, the almost crazy, blissful abandonment is staggering. I never saw motion so utterly expressive of joy! The movement looks like perfect rapture, fearless surrender to a hitherto unknown delight… The downward motion is light, adventurous, and perfectly happy. The water, after casting itself over the rocks, seems to be held up and supported as though floating down on wings! A glorious contradiction indeed.
How can one abandon themselves in in this way? Well the scene before me answers the question.
The falls come down from heights. Before they can do that there must first come the experience of “He maketh my feet like hinds feet and seteth me upon my high places” (Psalm 18:33).
One cannot get a mighty and powerful fall of water if there is only a low place and a short way to fall. It is the “high places” of faith and obedience which make the falls of love possible!
…The summits of the “high places” are the powerhouse from which love pours itself down in joyful surrender. One can never truly love until by faith and surrendered obedience one reaches the “high places” and there learns to go “skipping and leaping” on the mountains of difficulty as thought these were an “asphalt road!”
… Instinctively the old nature cries out, “Oh, will it be very painful? Hasn’t there been enough already, dear Lord Jesus?” … The only thing that matters is that the adjustment of abandonment to selfless love be made perfectly, so that I stop seeking to be loved and abandon myself to the joy of giving love to others…
The sound of falling water and the bells of the cows as they graze on the mountain slopes are the only things audible in the quiet valley. But the sound of the water is continuous--it never stops. It is saying over and over again, “The secret of experiencing true love is to go lower. Pour yourself down. Go lower and lower. Give and give and give, and serve with joyful abandonment.”