The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not lack for anything. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for the sake of His name. Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid for You, God, are with me. Your shepherd’s staff is a comfort to me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me every day of my life, and I will reside in Your house forever. –Psalm 23. (Slightly paraphrased by Bob Williams).
Up to that point, it had been the longest, most strenuous hike of my life. I had joined thirty other brave and not-so-brave souls in a climb to the top of Rooster Rock situated in the heart of the Oregon Cascade Mountains. The last15-20 feet or so was a ladder anchored alongside solid rock to a lookout tower where a couple of rangers spent their summers.
Once inside, they greeted us and offered us cold water to drink taken from a nearby mountain spring. The view was panoramic; filled with snow-capped peaks to the east and the vast Willamette Valley to the west guarded by Mary’s Peak towering over the Coast Range and Green Peak to the south.
The path we took was narrow and steep in places, but the view was worth every effort.
Back in camp the closing evening, an evangelist urged each camper to invite Jesus into our hearts. I started to go forward but held back.
The next morning after camp was over, I found myself all alone standing beside the campfire area where, each evening during the week, my teenage peers shared their testimonies of how Jesus was leading in their lives. Some were standout athletes, some were student leaders in their respective high schools, and some were just ordinary kids like me.
I stood there reflecting on what I had heard, and then told Jesus I was sorry I had not been living for Him and asked Him to forgive me and enter my life.
He did and life has forever changed from that day to this! His grace is truly amazing!
There had been pathways through the camp and out through the woods, but the one I most remember was the Rooster Rock path. That was then—this was now!
By this, I mean that a couple of weeks ago, I drove back to Longbow Organizational Camp where Jesus became as real to me as the top of Rooster Rock and even more so. I could no longer get to the camp on US Highway 20. I had to take a logging road that took me to the back side of it. There was a locked gate and not much parking space, but I got out and walked down the road a short distance towards the camp.
There in silent meditation, my mind took me back to that life-changing week. I said to the Lord, “It’s been a great ride! I cannot thank You enough for being with me every step of the way over these many years.”
God answered back, not in human voice, but unmistakably. “Bob, you’ve come a long way since those days, and when you consider your age, it won’t be long. You’re almost home!”
That long-ago week started with paths and hiking trails. It continues to culminate in a pilgrimage that has taken much of a lifetime. It has taken me through all but seven states and eight nations. It has had its victories and defeats, its ups and downs, its strengths and weaknesses, its health and sickness and injury, joys and sorrows. But through it all, I have done my best to follow the leader. His name is Jesus and He is the great Shepherd the above scripture is talking about.
Those pathways and this pilgrimage are inspiring a sequel to The Perils and Parables of Pastor Preechet. This fictitious minister also traveled many paths and a pilgrimage that impacted not only his life, but the lives of his families, his communities, his churches, and his colleagues in ministry.
I ask you to pray with me that as I write this sequel, The Pathways and Pilgrimages of Pastor Preechet will be a blessing to all who read it.
It took several years to write the first book, so we’ll see how this one comes together.
Bottom line: My sleeves are rolled up and I’m ready to put my fingers to the keys.