“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalms 23:6 NLT).
Hi, I’m Julie. I live in southern Kentucky, and here’s a story about the blessing at the end of Psalms 23.
Incredibly, my family and the Huarez family camped right next to each other this year at our annual church campout! My parents and the Huarez didn’t know each other and didn’t plan to be neighbors, but our close friends the Clarks weren’t coming this year, and so we didn’t reserve the one next to ours. It was up for grabs, and Ricardo Huarez and his family got it!
I hadn’t gotten to know Ricardo’s family at church very well. I just noticed them because I know Ricardo from school. He is fun to be around and has lots of friends. I had seen his younger sister once or twice, but I didn’t know she had such poor vision until that campout. She is small and thin and wears glasses. I think she is only about seven.
My family always comes early, and we already had our camper set up when most people were coming in, so I was out in one of our biggest folding chairs reading an exciting book when Ricardo and his family came up and started setting up camp next to us. I waved to Ricardo and he waved back with a big excited smile.
I tried to go back to my reading, but I kept finding myself glancing up and kind of watching the Huarez family setting up. I know that staring is rude, so I tried not to be obvious. His father walked with a little limp and Ricardo was quick to unload all the heavy things from the car so his father wouldn’t have to do it.
The family had one of those pop-up trailers, and Mr. Huarez began setting it up. Mrs. Huarez soon was setting a table cloth on the picnic table and pouring some drinks. Ricardo’s little sister was still in the car when Ricardo went and opened her door and led her by the hand to the table talking softly to her. She was holding a doll and a stuffed bear in the other hand. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but she laughed a little.
On the Hike
That afternoon, there was a hike to the falls. I’d noticed that Ricardo was good at sports at school. A couple other boys from our class saw him and called for him to hike with them, but he said he was staying with his sister to keep her company on the hike. What guy usually hikes with a kid-sister in tow?
I walked up to them. “Ricardo, what is your sister’s name?”
“Maria,” he hardly raised his eyes to look at me. He was holding his sister’s hand and looking down at her kind of helping to make sure that she didn’t stumble over roots or rocks in the path.
“Hi, Maria! I’m Julie,” I said.
“Hi,” was her quiet reply. She looked up at me with a face that was serious from concentration, but there was a small, shy smile playing on her lips. Then, I looked back up at Ricardo. He flashed me a proud smile.
The path narrowed, and I fell in behind them. I could see they weren’t up to any conversations right now besides their own, so I just followed along quietly until Mr. Benny, one of the church deacons, came up beside me and began talking. I spoke with him for a while, and then other people as the hike progressed and we all moved along the path. From time to time, I looked around to see how Ricardo and Maria were coming since I had passed them. It just seemed interesting to me that an older brother would be so caring.
Finally, we reached the bottom of the path, and all of us younger hikers ran ahead to the creek and jumped from rock to rock. Soon we were on up the path to the falls and the pool below it. I was definitely in my element! But I looked around and saw that Ricardo and Maria had fallen behind.
I inhaled a deep breath and took in the scene around me. I loved the sound of the water pounding over the falls. There were green trees and plants everywhere celebrating the spot where they enjoyed growing. The sunlight filtered down through the leaves of trees. It was all so beautiful!
Soon several of us teens and a couple adults went on around behind the falls. The air was misty and cool and there was a breeze that blew the mist into your face. The rocks above our heads dripped, too. It was great! I loved it back there, but all of a sudden the girl and boy in front of the line jumped back and she screamed.
“Snake! Snake!” cried the boy (whose name is Cliff).
Normally, we would have gone all the way through to the other side, on around the pool and across the creek again jumping rock to rock to get back to the path, but not after hearing that the ones in front saw a snake! We stumbled on each other to get out of there! Well, all of us but Carlos, Joe and Mr. Perry who teaches biology at our high school. They went closer to look. Still, I knew I wasn’t staying!
When we got on back near the path I found a big rock and climbed up just to sit and enjoy the falls and all. After a few seconds the people who saw the snake came out from behind the falls, too. Carlos was so excited. He told all those standing nearby that it was a coral snake! I’m glad I hadn’t stayed to look! Snakes are gross, and I do not like the thought of getting bit, either.
Qualifying for a Psalms 23 Blessing
I glanced around to see where Ricardo and Maria were. They were down the creek a way. It appeared that she kept looking up toward the falls and was terrified! Ricardo tried to get her to walk closer to the falls, but she started crying. I felt bad for Ricardo who brought his little sister down to the falls, and then she didn’t even want to get near them.
Since realizing how her vision was hardly good enough to see the roots and rocks in the path, I wondered if she could even see the falls. But, Ricardo didn’t look at all disappointed. He seemed as if he was doing just what he liked doing best! He patiently led her to a place downstream where the creek water was caught in a small little pool, and he found a rock there for her to sit on. Soon he had her putting her fingers cautiously into the water. At first she was scared, but then she laughed and reached both hands down into the water. He held her around the waist as she leaned over and she squealed and laughed! He grinned.
Wow! What a brother he was! So kind! Pretty amazing! But then I began to figure that is how we all should be, really. That’s how Jesus is, you know! I remembered our pastor talking on Psalms twenty-three about how Jesus leads us along carefully. He spoke about how Jesus takes us by quiet streams where we won’t be so afraid and we can drink, be refreshed and relax by the water.
I love the sound the water makes. I bet Maria can hear really well since she can’t see as well. The sound of the water off the falls might sound pretty scary, but the creek sound is a dribble and a quiet song!
I thought about the rest of the psalm and how it ends. I want to live in the Lord’s house. I knew that it was God’s goodness that is always with me, and His great love is all around me.
I thought about Ricardo. He was only sixteen, but he had what a man should have. He had maturity, kindness, and helpfulness. He was a real Christian. He had God. He cared for other people more than himself, and he seemed very happy and at peace in his own heart and with the world. The blessing of that last verse written by a young David certainly could be Ricardo’s: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalms 23:6 NLT).
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.