"Faith reaches into possibilities that the eyes cannot see."

A childhood memory led author Rafter to compose this dynamic daily guide. At age four, she had the responsibility to recite a short piece of holy scripture in front of a church congregation. Though fearing she would forget, she summoned her courage and declared, “The Lord is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.” This personal recollection forms the basis for several of the day-by-day offerings Rafter has created that reflect her thinking and actions over many years of Christian contemplation.

For example, January 1 of her compendium carries the book’s title and a broader meaning of the quotation from the Holy Bible’s Psalm 23. In it, she notes that sheep are likely to stay in their flock and follow one another, even if their path leads to destruction. Since humans, such as Christian groups, also “flock together,” they need wise leadership, and her advice for readers in the coming year is to let Jesus be that leader. Meanwhile, on Valentine’s Day, Rafter recounts having a party for children in her Sunday school. One of the sweetest participants, a victim of poverty and family trauma, had saved up money and, for the occasion, spent it in order to give the author a teddy bear. Rafter compares this heartfelt, self-sacrificing gift to that made by Jesus for the sake of humanity. The passage for September 29 speaks of the meaning of true forgiveness—that which God imparts—as compared with what Rafter has amusingly and accurately designated as “lay-it-down-and-pick-it-up forgiveness,” in which one appears to forgive, but as soon as one’s head hits the pillow, all the anger and dismay return to plague one’s mind.

Topical issues covered in the daily passages include child abuse, elder abuse, inundations of email, national leadership, coping with software passwords, and building a healthy marriage. Many are treated with humor, such as the entry for March 22 describing the difference between her heritage of traditional Southern biscuit making and the method taught by a Northern home economics teacher, urging readers to put the best ingredients into their “daily walk with Christ.”

Rafter’s carefully constructed journal entries are based on her sharp powers of observation, her varied life experiences, and her dedication to her major source for quotations, the Holy Bible. The stories and the conclusions she draws (always related to living a faithful Christian life with full awareness) cover about two pages. Though on some days, the focus is directed mainly to Bible stories and their application in the Christian lifestyle, many more are as much human-scale, emotive, and practical as they are etheric, demonstrating for readers that a spiritual path need not be only about angelic encounters but may well involve the simplest incidents of everyday existence. In one entry, Rafter speaks of the use of parables in the teachings of Jesus and his disciples, and this is a skill that she has clearly adapted in the building of these 365 messages. Rafter’s book will attract readers who wish to maintain a regular routine of spiritual concentration and practice and could also provide inspiration for church-based groups as they seek innovative sources of religious guidance to apply to life’s dilemmas.

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