I recently read this passage in Hinds Feet on High Places:
“I must tell you a great truth, Much-Afraid, which only the few understand. All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about, or can only dimly guess at. Every inner response of the human heart to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the tree of Love. Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love’s flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends. Some of my servants have indeed won great visible victories and are rightly loved and reverenced by other men, but always their greatest victories are like the wild flowers, those which no one knows about.”
After doing life with these 6 for the past 10 months, I’ve gotten a front row seat to observe their trials and triumphs. I don’t know their greatest victories from the past year, that’s between them and the Lord. But the ones I have seen have deeply moved me, so I can only imagine how much the Lord is celebrating their private conquests. Here’s a little taste of what I’ve gotten to witness…
Alabama is your home and everyone you love and care about are there. Knowing you and how much these people mean to you, I’m still astonished that you chose to move to Utah. This year was probably harder than you let on because your people were 1,800 miles away. But, I got to see the way in which you incorporated the Fellows, who were once strangers to you, into your circle. We didn’t grow up with you John Wilson, but you embraced each one of us. You have learned the value of Christ-centered community and being surrounded by those who have your back. You have shown others your big heart and have done exceptionally well in starting fresh. You obediently followed the Lord to this place and have let him mold you into a reflection of His Son. When you’re transitioning back into Alabama life, this victory will help you start well there.
Your first 2 and a half months in Utah were shadowed with unemployment. Repeated attempts of applying and being turned down happened too often. I know this was a discouraging time for you, but how you surfaced from this rut is incredible. I saw how your expectations of life after college and ideas of success in this world morphed into God’s perspective on these things. This time of being humbled and having to rely on the Lord to provide a job stripped what the world and college drilled into you of what it means to “make it” in life. For most people it takes years to realize this. You reacted with patience and didn’t lose hope. You trusted God with money and work, things that consume our world. Jonathan, this victory will set you apart wherever life takes you.
For the longest time, a war has waged within you. You have striven to please everyone around you to the point that it dangerously damages your health and leaves you feeling empty and burnt out. This entire year I have seen you try to fight the devastation your people-pleasing tendencies inflicts on you. And guess what? You have been able to say no to things because it’s in your best interest. You have learned to put yourself before others when the time is right. All these small instances were leading up to you making a life decision strictly for you, not anyone else. You used wisdom in making a choice that was ultimately the best thing for you. You are now battling the thoughts that you are a failure, but AB the Lord doesn’t see this as a defeat at all. Those who are close to you don’t view it that way either. It’s a victory my friend because after years of being driven to please, you are finally feeling the freedom to just be.
This year has not been painless for you. The first half of Fellows brought forth unwarranted mourning and uncomfortableness. Those things really sucked the life out of you, and I’m sorry you had to endure them. But how you responded the second half of Fellows was powerful. I saw how through letting the Lord humble you, embracing the doubts, and tackling these challenges head on, you reacted in the coolest way. You chose joy Cotè. I saw your true self emerge. I remember you apologizing because you felt as if you were overwhelming everyone, but that is simply not true. Your joyfulness was contagious, because it spread throughout the whole group. I firmly believe this helped set the pace for the last few months we all had together. While this year was not what you were expecting, you are ending this program with such a huge victory that it impacted those around you.
You have literally transformed within the course of these 10 months. This transformation was not easy for you. You had to revisit many difficult and crippling things. Facing fears, wounds, and injustice, by the grace of God you were able to respond with forgiveness. You trusted the Lord to carry you to deep places of hurt, and you triumphantly walked out of them with a fist raised and holding the hand of Jesus. My dear Yumi, 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” You are a living testament to these words. Your fears have vanished, and this has allowed you to live in the radical freedom that Jesus promises those who have faith in Him. You can share your story with others. You have found the secret to contentment. Your security is now rooted in the Savior. This year has been marked with hardships Yums, but reigning over that I see sweet victory.
You have so boldly confronted your fears, insecurities, and past hurt. By letting the Lord humble you and teach you about forgiveness, these things have melted away and given you a clearer head, lighter load, and the ability to be your authentic self. You nailed things that have had a hold on you for so long to the cross. Chains have been shattered. With the gentle push of the Lord, you opened your heart to healing and the challenges that come with digging up “all the things”. With that, your heart has been filled with Truth and the perfect love of the Father. I have watched this change your world view and how you see the Father, give you the freedom to be who the Lord has created you to be, and how its enabled you to let others in and begin to love yourself. And that is a victory if I’ve ever seen one, Sar.
Friends, I have loved getting to trek thru the deserts and climb the mountains with you all, figuratively and literally. Thank you for the privilege to witness victories from each of you. Thank you for showing me the triumph we experience when we seek and trust Jesus.
SLF Class of 17-18