One of my favorite daily routines is my FaceTime call with my daughter Annika and my precious granddaughters Isla and Caroline. They live in Davidson, North Carolina and I eagerly await their call at 9:30 each morning. It is lunchtime there and Isla, now two and a half, is eating and ready for some entertainment.
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That is where I come in — I am an infamous storyteller and I cherish the moments when her full attention is on me as I narrate a book. One of our favorite stories is “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”. Some of you might be familiar with this story — it is quite an adventure. Isla and I love to say the lines together:
“We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day! We’re not scared. Oh-oh! Grass! Long, wavy grass. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go THROUGH it!”
The characters in this story face some challenging hurdles they must go through, from grass to roaring rivers, mud, a dark forest, a swirling snowstorm and a gloomy cave.
“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
My granddaughters, Caroline and Isla
It was after reading all of the obstacles the characters in the story encounter that the word THROUGH caught my attention! It triggered many memories from my life and all the difficult circumstances I have had to face and that one common truth has always remained. The Lord has walked with me THROUGH every situation in my life whether a huge storm or just a squall. He has never left my side and promises to go with me through whatever comes my way.
It reminded me of a passage in the Bible that talks about the Lord walking through life with us — it is the 23rd Psalm.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.”
The first time I heard these verses, I was just 16 years old and they were words I will never forget. This Psalm was read at the very first funeral I attended which was for a friend’s dad’s untimely death. The words were comforting but a little confusing. I associated the Psalm with death and steered clear for a long time from ever reading it again. It wasn’t a good memory, and it definitely left a negative mark on me.
Many years passed and it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I heard a message at The Anchor at our gathering in Bellevue, Washington. The speaker for the evening was a well-known news journalist who had been an anchorwoman for KING 5 News in Seattle, on CBS and Good Morning America. She was also the first Native American to report on a national news broadcast.
Her message began with the story of her early childhood. She grew up in a family of seven children and in severe poverty. She shared about how her aunt — a missionary — would come to visit every year and had helped her memorize the 23rd Psalm. Although she didn’t understand what the words really meant, she anchored them in her heart anyway. The time spent with her aunt was very special and she never forgot it.
She shared about how her aunt — a missionary — would come to visit every year and had helped her memorize the 23rd Psalm. Although she didn’t understand what the words really meant, she anchored them in her heart anyway.
The words from Psalm 23 didn’t make a difference in her life until she reached her mid-50s and her world came crashing down. One night, she found herself alone and distraught in a New York hotel room. On this one particular night — at her lowest, darkest moment of questioning the purpose of her life and the heartbreak she was enduring —she wondered, “Is there more to this life?” She had everything one would dream of in terms of extravagant, earthly security. But none of that was helping her then.
All of a sudden the words of the 23rd Psalm came rushing back to her mind: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…” She went on to describe how she knelt on the floor and asked the Lord to help, and to come into her life that night. An amazing peace and joy came over her that she could barely put into words.
She was so thankful for the time and effort her aunt had put into helping her memorize that short passage from the Bible. The decision she made that night changed her life.
The 23rd Psalm began to speak to me as well in a very powerful way as I listened to this woman’s message. I began to discover the truth behind the words of this Bible passage and now count it one of the most important Anchor Truths — the Lord is my Shepherd!
I like to google words to find out more of the deeper meaning. A shepherd is defined as “a person who herds, tends, and guards sheep; a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people.” The Lord as our Shepherd takes on great meaning for our lives when we decide to follow Him. This is such a great analogy to begin to understand the love and care He has for us.
This Anchor Truth brings confidence and joy as you begin to know and fully trust Jesus as your Shepherd to take care of you and lead you. Just like the book I read with Isla reminds me — life has circumstances we can’t escape — we can’t go around them or under them, we’ve got to go THROUGH them.
Jesus goes with us all the way. He promises to see us to the other side of whatever storms this life brings. He won’t leave us in the middle or abandon us at any step of life’s journey wherever that leads. Jesus wants to know us in a personal way and will walk THROUGH life with us each step of the way!