Near the end of the book, Grace and Glory looked down at the Valley of Humiliation far below. She thought about her family living in misery. They needed the Shepherd too! She began to weep, asking Joy and Peace, “What about my family? What will become of them? Who will go and help them?”

Joy replied, “If the Shepherd can turn Sorrow into Joy, Suffering into Peace, and Much Afraid into Grace and Glory, then the Shepherd can transform Dismal Foreboding into Praise and Thanksgiving. He can do a marvelous work with Craven Fear, Spiteful, Gloomy, and all the other cousins you have down there.”

“But who will go? Who is going to tell them?”

Immediately, the Shepherd was at her side. She turned to the Shepherd and began to plead, “Can’t you send somebody? Who will help my family?”

A smile creased the Shepherd’s face. He looked deep into her eyes and said, “Why, that is your job. That is why I brought you here. Now, go back down to the valley below and lead your family to me.”

The story of her descent is told in Hurnard’s sequel, Mountains of Spices. I was sitting on an airplane at the end of runway eleven, waiting to take off from Tucson International Airport, when I finished the sequel. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. Finally, the passenger next to me asked, “Are you all right?”

“Yes, it’s just a great book.”

This is the essence of the spiritual growth cycle. We start out as children; mature as spiritual young men and women; and finally grow in to mothers and fathers. Then we descend back down into the valley and help others on their journey to the High Places.

Spiritual Mothers and Fathers Experience the Depths of an Infinite-Personal Relationship with God the Father

In describing spiritual levels John twice repeats: “You have known Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13-14). Experiencing intimacy with the eternal God who traces back to the universe must be really important for John to say it twice.

In 1 John 2:12-14 the Apostle John not only enunciated a progression in spiritual growth, he revealed a progression in our love with Jesus.

Julie and I have been married for a long time. She came into my life on a summer Sunday morning in church. She was late—arriving just in time to run to the piano to play and sing before I got up to preach. It was love at first solo. If someone had said to me in those first few weeks, “Do you know Julie Tacker?” I might have responded, “Certainly, I know her.” The Greek word oida refers to an introductory knowledge of something or a cursory relationship with someone.

Multiple years later, I not only know her, I experience her. The Greek word ginosko works quite well to describe our intimate relationship today: I’m thinking her thoughts. I’m reading her mind. She’s thinking my thoughts. She’s reading my mind. I know what makes her laugh. I know what makes her cry. I know her hopes; I know her hurts. Her needs, her strengths, and her weaknesses are as open books to me. I intimately know Julie Tacker Barrier. She shares my life. She shares my name. As for Julie, she probably knows me even better.

One afternoon, one of my sons-in-law and I went out to lunch. “Where do you want to go?” he asked me.

“I really ought to have a salad.”

“Oh, come on. Let’s eat somewhere the girls never want to go. How about Cici’s All You Can Eat Pizza Buffet? It’s a man’s place.”