"I am the good
shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.... I lay
down My life for the sheep." John 10:14-15
Day after day, my
Shepherd leads me. In fact, He watched over
us long before we knew Him. Therefore my heart echoes the confident
words of David, God's shepherd-king, "in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned
for me, when as yet there were none of them." Psalm 139:16
I didn't learn about my
Shepherd those early years in
Norway, yet He soon began to draw me to Himself. He gave me a Christian godmother --
a childhood friend of my mother
who became a missionary to Africa. I remember meeting her only once,
during a furlough. But what a difference she made! She gave me a Bible and
encouraged me to say the Lord's prayer each night, and my faithful Shepherd never let me forget. His precious
prayer outline flowed through my mind
each night, year after year. More than two decades would pass
before He would open my eyes to truly
Word. But I continued to reach out toHim, for I knew I needed my Shepherd more than anything else.
Norway borders on Russia,
and Stalin's cruelty was no secret to Norway's children. But my
fears and nightmares made my Shepherd all the more precious. He not
only led me, He became a mighty, ever-present
And when we moved to America, my faithful Shepherd walked with me through many
lonely teenage years when shyness and frequent changes of schools kept
me alone with Him. He became
my best friend and confidant.
Eventually, He led me to my
wonderful husband, Andy,
who loved His Word and shared my Norwegian heritage. I longed to
learn more about God, but the social club atmosphere of the first
Lutheran church we joined and the liberal emphasis of the second one
brought confusion and discouragement. Desperate for evidence that
would clarify my rising doubts, I immersed my mind in the theological books I found in the
church library. "God is dead," they told me. It's time to "demythologize
the Bible" and forget His miracles. My faith crumbled, and
seemed to disappear.
But then, when life seemed most hopeless,
opened my eyes and changed my life. By His amazing providence, I "happened to" watch the televised baptism of some
people" on the evening news. Their radiant joy revived the longing in my
heart and brought tears to my eyes. "If you are for real, show
yourself to me," I cried out.
a former member of our liberal church called to tell me that she had
become a Christian. Then she invited me to the evening service of a local Bible Church.
Yes! sang my heart! A few days later, I sat in a
church that was vibrant with His presence. "You are real! You are real!..." I
whispered joyfully to my Shepherd. Indeed He was!
Suddenly His Book made sense to me! The Words I had
often tried to read in the past came alive that night with new meaning, exciting realities,
and a glorious hope! Suddenly I knew that I knew Him! Not only
was He my Shepherd; I was His sheep -- a new member of His worldwide
family! No matter what He had planned or how
hard life's challenge, He would surely lead
me! And nothing could be more wonderful!
each step of the way
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake."
I couldn't stop reading the
Bible that first night. Seeing how far I had strayed from His truth, I
cried, confessed sin after sin and sensed the sweetness of His
forgiveness. By dawn I had reached Romans 5:5 and was reading these words: "...the love of God has
been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
"O Lord," I
"I have so little love inside me. Please fill me, too, with your love."
And He did! The overflowing joy inside me told me that He had
answered my prayer.
"Where do You want me to share that love," I asked
expectantly. And by His quiet, inaudible voice he spoke to my heart: "Go
to the [local] Veterans Hospital."
I could hardly wait. At 8 AM, I called the chaplains'
office. They had never used a volunteer before, but since I was a
registered nurse, they accepted me. There, for the next two years -- until our third son was born -- my Shepherd would train me to share His love and
gospel. Some of
the most skeptical veterans would make up lists of hard questions
together, then dare me to find answers. They seemed pleased with their attempts to shock and outsmart me.
In search for life-changing answers, I would feed in the sweet
pastures of His Word, and my Shepherd always
led me to wonderful truths that amazed me as well as my challengers.
What an exciting time to see and demonstrate His sufficiency in my
But for a shy, quiet
introvert, it wasn't easy to be a sheep in His pasture. A few weeks
after my conversion, He
used a faithful Sunday School teacher at our new church to introduce me to Good News Clubs
(Child Evangelism Fellowship) and to start a club in our backyard. Our two sons
(then 5 and 7) invited their friends to our first meeting, and I prayed that no parents
would come and stay for the meeting. I knew I could trust Him for the
courage needed to teach the lesson to children -- but not to adults. He
graciously kept parents away for that first encounter. But for
the next few years, God
trained me to be a yielded vessel through whom He could spread His
Good News and draw both children and adults to Himself. And I learned to know
my Shepherd as my constant strength and sufficiency!
He shows me His strength in my weakness
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Nothing was more
difficult for this quiet sheep than to be in front people or speak up in
a group. But I had given Him my life as "a living sacrifice" and I
belonged to Him. Now He would train me in obedience.
"If you love me,
you will keep my commands," He told me again and again in His Word. And
the first command is the hardest of all: "You shall love the Lord your
God with all your heart... mind... will and strength." And, as He did
with the "rich young ruler," He began to put His finger on the things I
loved more than Him. I had to learn to be more concerned about pleasing
Him than pleasing people. That meant "dying to self" in order to live
for Him. Day after day, I would "reckon myself dead to sin and alive
to God." (Romans 6:11)
During my second year as a Christian,
some church members talked me into attending the large annual
women's retreat. I was about 4 months pregnant with our third child,
but I had given away my maternity clothes and
had little time to buy new ones. Feeling fat and unsightly,
I hid in the back row of the auditorium during the first
evening's message. From there, I watched the speaker struggling with an
unstable wooden block of a podium. When she leaned on it, it moved.
Upset, she called for a
custodian. For some strange reason, he couldn't fix it.
Suddenly, with a
shock that sent my heart beating so loud that it throbbed in my head and
confused my hearing, I
sensed my Shepherd telling to me to fix it. Oh no! I can't
do that, I whispered. Our speaker had begun her lecture, and the last thing
I wanted was to disturb her and call attention to myself. But He gave me
no peace. My beating heart drowned out all her words and made me want to
crawl out of the room. Then, my Shepherd told me raise my trembling hand, and I had no
choice. But the speaker simply ignored it. Again He spoke to
me, and in spite of myself, I waved my arm from the back row. Finally
the speaker stopped and -- visibly irritated -- asked into the microphone, "Did
you have a question?"
shouted from the back row,
"but I think I can fix the podium." Well, come on up here then," she
said. She sounded neither happy nor hopeful. I didn't know how to fix the podium, but I stumbled my way up
toward the front. In the second row, on the left side of the center
aisle, someone grabbed my left hand and put something into it, squeezing
my fingers back over the thing. Walking up the steps to the large,
formal podium, I
looked down and saw a thick wad of paper. Moments later, I gently pushed the podium,
and it leaned away from me. All it needed was a
wedge! Had God just blinded the eyes of the others so they wouldn't
grasp it? I stuffed the wad of paper into an opening near the bottom of
the heavy stand. Our speaker tried leaning on the podium again, but it
wouldn't budge. She thanked me and I rushed back to my seat, blushing with embarrassment. Then I took a deep
breath, and began to rejoice! My Shepherd had proven Himself strong and faithful
on behalf of this weak and reticent sheep. Thank You, precious Lord, I
sang in my heart.
In the years ahead, I would face all
kinds of challenges but God kept proving His sufficiency with each
one. Since I dreaded crowds and microphones, His early assignments
were especially daunting. The first time I was asked to give a talk
at our church, I quickly said no. "Well, pray about it anyway," was the
retort. Stunned, I stood on the church patio feeling faint with fear.
The worst headache of my life was
about to hit. Then, after three days of stalling and pure misery, I called the woman and
accepted the call.
One morning a few years later, as I
was reading in the Old Testament, my Shepherd impressed on my mind that
I would be asked to lead the women's Bible studies -- and that the obscure verse
on the page in front of me would be His promise to me. Once again, a wave of fear
threatened to overwhelm me, but as the months passed, that painful moment faded
into a faint memory. That is, until the call came in early fall. "And by the
way," the caller said, "here is a Scripture we felt led to give you as
encouragement." It was the same one He had given me seven months earlier.
"I was with you
in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and
my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but
in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith
should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." 1 Corinthians
During the next four years, I would retreat
once a week to a lonely place in the hills behind our house where my
Shepherd would provide the Bible study lessons for the week. I never
could write well; even personal notes were a chore for me. But my
Shepherd was teaching me, and by His grace, my heart would listen and
I would write.
Other churches soon began to use our lessons,
suggested the studies should be published. I was invited to attend a
writer's conference, and on the first night I was once again sitting
in the back row of a large auditorium. I greeted the person next to me, and
when the lecture finished she asked me what I was writing. "Bible
studies," I answered. Then she asked, "May I look at it? I am the
acquisitions editor for Victor Books, and we are just starting a
women's Bible Study series." My Shepherd had led me to Carole
Streeter, the encouraging editor who would publish my first three books.
3. He trains me
in spiritual warfare
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over."
I was a full time mom in those days, but
wanted me to maintain my RN license. That meant taking some continuing education courses, and
soon after I became a Christian, I picked a class on "holistic health." I knew nothing about it,
but it sounded interesting. I attended a workshop on "Polarity," and neither its Yin Yang symbol nor the promise that the
special massage would "balance the male and female energies" of my body
alerted me to its occult source. Since the facilitator assured us that
she could fix any kind of back problem (I had a crooked and painful back
because of polio), I signed up for a private session.
A few weeks later I drove to her clinic and was ushered to a massage
table. Andy and I had prayed together that morning -- and my Shepherd
had already trained me to put on
His armor each day --
yet I felt uneasy and a bit nervous, especially after noticing a mystical
drawing on her wall. "What’s that?" I asked the therapist when she came
into the room.
"It’s my spirit guide," she answered.
Her spirit guide? A demonic personality in Satan's occult
armies? I almost hopped off the table. Praying for wisdom, I asked, "Where does your power come from?"
"It’s from the universal force," she began. "It goes through my spirit
guide into me, then through my hands into you."
I wanted to
run out, but I sensed He wanted me to stay. After a quick and fervent prayer for
God's guidance, there came a comforting assurance that He would guard me.
The hymn, "How Great Thou Art," flowed through my mind. Silently, I praised God, put on His armor again (Eph 6:10-18), and
As soon as the facilitator-therapist touched my back, she began to
cough. Soon she was coughing so hard that she could hardly breathe. So
she squatted on the floor next to me. When her coughing slowed, I turned my head
and asked, "What are you doing down there?"
"Re-aligning my energies," she finally answered. She stood up to try
again, but the moment she touched me, the coughing resumed. Angry, she
stepped back, waited to catch her breath, then announced, "I can’t help
you. MY POWER WON’T GO INTO YOU! You might as well go home."
Delighted, I tried to explain why. But she didn’t want to hear about the
difference between my God and her cosmic force. "Just leave," she
warned. I did, and all the way home I praised my Shepherd who had shown me
that "He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (1 John
That wonderful victory left me with a
solemn awareness of the power of the evil one. Several years later,
when I was writing my second book, Your Child and the New Age, I
stood in a local coffee shop/bookstore glancing through some of the
magazine for news items. Above the international news was a shelf
with New Age and Wicca magazines. As I glanced at them, I sensed my
Shepherd telling me to take one down and buy it. I recoiled, not
wanting to touch anything that might be linked to the occult. His
insistent prompting caused me to rush outside, put on the armor and
wait again. I couldn't believe He really wanted me to buy that
magazine. But once again He nudged me. I went inside, bought the
magazine without opening it, then hid it in the garage after praying
that God would cleanse it from any spiritual entanglements. I didn't
even know what that might be.
Several months later, a friend called. Her
daughter's sixth grade teacher was using a book called
The Dark is
Rising as the mandatory "reader," and my friend thought it looked
spooky. Did I know anything about it.
I didn't, but I told her I would pray
for insight. I hung up the phone, knelt, and asked my Shepherd to
guide me. He prompted me to go to the garage, find the hidden
magazine on witchcraft. I did, then opened it up to the center
pages. It featured a report on a 5-book series of books titled The
Dark is Rising. Stunned, I read about its effectiveness (from a
pagan perspective) in
introducing witchcraft to children.
My Shepherd had prepared not only an
answer to my friend, but also a much-needed lesson for the years
ahead. While equipping me to write the next two books,
Spell of Mother Earth and
A Twist of Faith, He would send me into
one occult or pagan circumstance after another. But I would never
fear the enemy for I knew that He would be my strength, shield, and
sufficiency wherever He would lead me. As long as I followed Him, He
would provide all my needs!
A bout with cancer
led to a mastectomy, but that was no problem, for -- whatever happened -- I could
rejoice with Paul, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!" My
children and friends faced difficulties, but there, too, I could trust in His
Perhaps the most
painful experience was facing slander, but through it my Shepherd taught
me forgiving love. A fellow researcher whom I had trusted as a friend
began to mail a list of lies about me to countless people and to hosts
of conferences where I would be speaking. Only one host cancelled my
but knowing this slanderous message was being sent to unknown numbers of
researchers and friends was painful. Yet, in the midst of the pain, my
Shepherd's nearness became all the more precious. So did the many Psalms
that described similar assaults. The worst moment came at a large UN conference in Turkey when
I learned that a dear fellow-reporter had received the same letter --
and believed it. The most painful thing was not the loss of a roommate
at the hotel, but the sense of betrayal and aloneness among people I had
trusted. Who else
had believed the lies? I didn't know.
But my Lord knew,
and He was my Shepherd. As I knelt before Him -- again and again --
forgiving, interceding, asking Him to bless my enemies, His presence
became sweeter than ever. Day after day, I walked and talked with Him as He
led me to vital meetings, interesting encounters and new friends. As the
apostle Paul discovered,
"....we have this
treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power
may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every
side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not
destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the
Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in
our body." 2 Corinthians 4:7
will guide me all the way home
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
I love the old hymns that fill my heart
with reminders of His exciting truths. But one stands
out among all the others, for it continually stirs my heart with the wonders of
my Shepherd and His care for His sheep. Written by Fanny Crosby, its melody can be heard at
All the way my Savior leads
me, what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who
through life has been my Guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me,
cheers each winding path I tread.
Gives me grace for every trial, feeds me with the living bread.
When my weary steps may falter
and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the well before me,
lo, a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me;
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
in my Father's house above.
When my spirit clothed immortal,
wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way!
What it means to be a Christian |