The Testing Places and the High Places

Noah spent forty days stranded on a boat full of dirty animals. The Children of Israel spent forty years wandering the wilderness. Christ spent forty days being tempted in the wilderness. Paul had a thorn in his side. Why is it that we think we should have it easy?

Okay. Not we. Me. Why do I think I should have it easy?

When I was in high school, a lady who went to my church challenged me to read Hannah Hurnard’s allegory, Hind’s Feet on High Places. If you’ve never read it, it’s about a character named Much-Afraid who makes the arduous journey to The High Places to be with The Shepherd, who will take away her fears, make her whole, restore her joy, and give her a new name.

As I read this week’s chapter of A.W. Tozer’s Pursuit of God, I was reminded of Much-Afraid. In fact, I felt like Much-Afraid. I’ve always identified with that character. Which is a bit ironic, in light of the fact that I’ve been referred to as a “gutsy chick” and that I’ve faced some pretty major upheavals in my life. (Cross-country move, anyone?) But really, I am much afraid. When I go to the doctor and have to get a shot, I jump before they even get the needle out of the package. When someone close to me moves their hand too fast, I flinch. And often when I feel overwhelmed with things in my life, I become paralyzed and immobilized by them and sit doing nothing instead of jumping hurdles.

Tozer says, “We will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us; just one and an alternative, but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.” (Tozer, 21)

The truth is: I don’t want to be tested. It’s too scary. It costs too much. It hurts.

But I don’t dare remove myself from the testing place because in order to get to The High Places, to be with The Shepherd and have my fears taken away, my joy restored, my brokenness made whole, and to receive my new name, I must go through that testing place.

For as long as I can remember, my Mama has played guitar. And each time she picks up her guitar and puts the strap over her shoulder and starts to strum, she tunes up with the same old song:

Farther along we’ll know all about it

Farther along we’ll understand why

Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine

We’ll understand it all by and by

(Written by WB Stevens)


And so today, you and I may be Much-Afraid. Our High Place can seem so high, so hard, so scary, so unattainable. But it’s worth the climb. And we’ll understand it all by and by.

This post is part of a weekly discussion co-facilitated by Jason Stasyszen and I. We are currently discussing AW Tozer’s classic “Pursuit of God.” You don’t have to be reading the book to participate in the discussion! However, if you have written a response to this chapter, please drop by Jason’s and link up at the widget you will find there. Thanks for coming by! I’ll see you back here next Wednesday for the first week of Chapter 3!

About Sarah Salter


  1. The Bible teaches us that we are refined by fire. That perseverence produces faith. That there is something better on the other side of this life. While these may be comforting, they are hard to grasp when we’re caught up in life. And so we go through our daily routine Much Afraid.

    That sounds like a great read- I might have to add that to my ever-growing reading list! Thanks, Sarah.

  2. I don’t know that song, but I like it. I almost used that same quote, but went another direction. I think it’s so true. There are lots of options in life and God is the author of options; however, when we are in the testing place, there is only one set of options–life or death, blessings or curses. It hasn’t changed over all these centuries. Culture, language, and so much other may have changed, but that has not. Honestly though, I’m glad. When you’re making decisions of the utmost importance, you don’t want a lot of options. You want the best and He spells it out to us. Good stuff, Sarah. Thank you for this.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks for coming by, Frank!! And I definitely recommend that read! 🙂

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, I’ll sing it for you sometime. 😉

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