Why “Hinds’ Feet on High Places” is My Favorite Allegory

I love word pictures! Metaphors help us grasp difficult-to-understand concepts. And when it comes to understanding our transcendent God we need extra help! God knows this and Jesus Himself used many wonderful parables and word pictures so that we can know Him better.

God often communicates to me in this way, and it permeate my writings.* 

Hinds’ Feet on High Places is by far my favorite fictional book.

I have read this wonderful classic allegory more times than I can count! I can so relate to the main character, Much-Afraid.

It is a story of a young girl who lives in the Valley of Humiliation in the village of Much-Trembling. She works for The Shepherd. She feels very insecure because she is partially lame, has a distorted face, and is continually badgered by her family, The Fearings.

One day she wailed to the Shepherd, “Oh if only I could escape from this Valley of Humiliation, and go to the High places in the Kingdom of Love!”

The Shepherd told her that He would take her. But Much Afraid exclaimed “How can I? I am lame and ugly. It is impossible!”

The Shepherd responded, “But, Much Afraid, I could make yours [feet] like hinds’ feet also, and set you upon the High Places.”

This story is about her journey.

But my favorite part in the entire book is when Much-Afraid faces an impassible precipice to climb…

“It looks so dreadful, Shepherd, so impossible. I turn giddy and faint whenever I look at it. The roes and hinds can go there, but they are not limping, crippled, or cowardly like me.”

“But, Much-Afraid, what did I promise you in the Valley of Humiliation?” asked the Shepherd with a smile.

Much-Afraid look startled, and the blood rushed into her cheeks and ebbed again, leaving them as white as before. “You said,” she began and broke off and then began again. “O Shepherd, you said you would make my feet like hinds’ feet and set me upon mine High Places.”

“Well,” he answered cheerily, “the only way to develop hinds’ feet is to go by the paths which hinds use—like this one.”

Much-Afraid trembled and looked at him shamefacedly. “I don’t think—I want—hinds’ feet, if it means I have to go on a path like that,” she said slowly and painfully.

The Shepherd was a very surprising person. Instead of looking either disappointed or disapproving, he actually laughed again. “Oh, yes you do,” he said cheerfully. “I know you better than you know yourself, Much-Afraid.… What did I say to you the last time that we met?”

“You said, ‘Now shalt thou see what I will do,’” she answered…but I never dreamed you would do anything like this! Lead me to an impassible precipice up which nothing can go but deer and goats, when I’m no more like a deer or a goat than is a jellyfish. It’s too—it’s too—” she fumbled for words, and then burst out laughing. “Why, it’s too preposterously absurd! It’s crazy! Whatever will you do next?”

The Shepherd laughed too. “I love doing preposterous things,” he replied. “Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing more than another which I should enjoy doing at this moment it is turning a jellyfish into a mountain goat. That is my special work…transforming things—to take Much-Afraid, for instance, and to transform her into—.” He broke off and then went on laughingly, “Well, we shall see later on what she finds herself transformed into.”

Let me tell you, my friends,

God has indeed turned this jellyfish into a mountain goat!

He has done a preposterous thing in having me write a crazy allegory about a world where plants come alive! About a spindly rose who longs for significance and is transformed by abiding in the Vine. “Into what?” you ask. Well, read The Master’s Garden: An Allegory of Abiding in the Vine and find out!

Perhaps you too feel like a jellyfish facing an impossible situation. Will you respond to your Shepherd’s call like I did?

“Come now, little jellyfish,” said the Shepherd, “do you believe that I can change you into a mountain goat and get you to the top of the precipice?”

“Yes,” replied Much-Afraid.

“Will you let me do it?”

“Yes,” she answered, “if you want to do such a crazy and preposterous thing, why certainly you may.”


(Me at the top of Mount Ida in Colorado)

To help you get to the top of your own High Places,  I am offering a complete and unabridged copy of this classic allegory  for only $1.99 at our online store
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*Metaphorical blogs:
Let God be Your Plate-Spinner
Freefall: Desperation without Consuming Fear
Putting on Our Spiritual Hiking Boots: Lessons Learned from Hiking