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“Shepherd,” she said despairingly, “I can’t understand this. The guides you gave me say that we must go down there into that desert, turning right away from the High Places altogether. You don’t mean that, do you? You can’t contradict yourself. Tell them we are not to go there, and show us another way. Make a way for us, Shepherd, as you promised.”

He looked at her and answered very gently, “That is the path, Much-Afraid, and you are to go down there.” “Oh, no,” she cried. “You can’t mean it. You said if I would trust you, you would bring me to the High Places, and that path leads right away from them. It contradicts all that you promised.”

“No,” said the Shepherd, “it is not contradiction, only postponement for the best to become possible.”

Much-Afraid felt as though he had stabbed her to the heart. “You mean,” she said incredulously, “you really mean that I am to follow that path down and down into that wilderness and then over that desert, away from the mountains indefinitely? Why” (and there was a sob of anguish in her voice) “it may be months, even years, before that path leads back to the mountains again. O Shepherd, do you mean it is indefinite postponement?”

He bowed his head silently, and Much-Afraid sank on her knees at his feet, almost overwhelmed. He was leading her away from her heart’s desire altogether and gave no promise at all as to when he would bring her back. As she looked out over what seemed an endless desert, the only path she could see led farther and farther away from the High Places, and it was all desert.

Then he answered very quietly, “Much-Afraid, do you love me enough to accept the postponement and the apparent contradiction of the promise, and to go down there with me into the desert?”

She was still crouching at his feet, sobbing as if her heart would break, but now she looked up through her tears, caught his hand in hers, and said, trembling, “I do love you, you know that I love you. Oh, forgive me because I can’t help my tears. I will go down with you into the wilderness, right away from the promise, if you really wish it. Even if you cannot tell me why it has to be, I will go with you, for you know I do love you, and you have the right to choose for me anything that you please.”

This excerpt from Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard accurately captures the back and forth emotions that my heart has been battling these last three years in Los Angeles. It’s been surprisingly (and not so surprisingly) difficult for me to be okay with God leading us to living in Los Angeles – to a literal desert, much like Much-Afraid’s scenario. I have, instead, spent an absurd amount of time wondering why God would lead us here if my desires are for honorable things, such as enjoying His nature and being with family.

But as our church leaders lovingly teach, even good things can be prioritized as ultimate things.

When God’s gifts are treasured over Him alone — when we make something besides God more valuable in our life — we create an idol for ourselves. It may not be physical like the statues discussed in many religions but it is something that we create to serve our needs and make us feel happy, secure, important, fulfilled, etc. It can be our prestige, our family, our occupation, our dreams, our bank account, etc.

If we cherish these things more than our Creator, we are in a dangerous place because if we do not recognize this transgression and continue to live as if we worship the one true God, the apostle John says we are a liar. As harsh as that sounds, this passage of Scripture is humbling because it makes us face the truth in ourselves: we were made to worship God alone but, because of the curse, we continuously choose to give glory to ourselves by creating things to serve us. We may say we love God but do we love him better than everything?

We must constantly be searching our heart’s desires to understand the true motive! Yet:

The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

God knows our hearts!

The best way to know if we are idolizing something is to figure out what makes us angry. Just like the child who gets upset when their playmate steals or even looks at their toy,  we too react defensively when our idols are taken away or threatened. This is because anger is the reaction of wanting control over something and feeling entitled to that control. But control is an illusion.

I might feel I have control over who defines me, so how dare she say such and such about me! I might feel I have control over how much money I make, so I’m going to work for that promotion if my life depends on it. I might feel I have control over my free time, so am frustrated that my needy friend would call me right when I sit down to watch a movie. I might feel I have control over where I want to live so I feel entitled when life goes a different direction… You get the idea.

Moving to LA woke me up to the reality that comfort and familiarity was an idol. When these things were threatened (a few months before we moved) and then ultimately taken away, I quickly became angry. And I felt justified in my anger because I thought that these things were good things to have. But I must remember that God’s purposes are for my good. They are not out of spite or thoughtlessness but meant to draw me closer to Him (and if I am to draw away, that is my own fault).


I am finding out that as soon as I become discontent in my circumstances and begin to feel entitled that I deserve something better, this drastically hinders my relationship with God. I have now spent the last three years bitter at Him and subsequently my vision has been narrowing for what He has in store because I think my ways are higher than his ways.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

By His grace, slowly and surely I am learning to say, “Even if you cannot tell me why it has to be, I will go with you, for you know I do love you, and you have the right to choose for me anything that you please.”