In her latest book, The Rock, The Road, and The Rabbi ($14.99, Amazon), Kathie Lee Gifford writes of her personal journey walking along ancient paths in Israel, as well as her studies of ages-old Hebrew and Greek texts. As Gifford shares her transformative experiences, readers are also introduced to her teachers on the journey — Ray Vander Laan, Rod Van Solkema, and Rabbi Jason Sobel, a Messianic Jewish Rabbi who has been opening hearts and minds around the world for years with his historical analysis and eye-opening revelations. Read a selection of excerpts from her new book below!
The next day of our Israel tour, we traveled by bus and then foot (uphill again!) to the Valley of Elah— the place where David famously defeated Goliath. Nobody was grumbling anymore. Not even Frank. We had learned a great truth the day before: the harder the climb, the greater the blessing on the mountaintop.
When we finally reached the ridge where the Israelites had looked out with terror across the valley to where the Philistines waited to attack, the first thing that struck me was how completely unchanged it is. There is nothing there but the imagination you bring with you. And as you recall the familiar story of David and Goliath recorded in 1 Samuel 17, you can truly envision the drama that took place there some three thousand years ago.
Ray has the extraordinary gift of enabling people to see a familiar story with new eyes.
“The miracle of David and Goliath is that David had an intimate relationship with the living God!” he bellowed. “That’s what makes a miracle!”
Then Ray instructed all of us to go down to the brook and pick up a stone. By now we had learned to do what he said without questioning him. I will never forget the look in Frank’s eyes as this man who was in six Halls of Fame obediently reached down to pick up his stone, just as a young shepherd boy had done three thousand years ago.
Ray also picked up a stone from the brook. As he held the stone in his hand, he looked at each of us, as if to the core of our souls, and asked: “What is your stone? Where are you going to throw it?”
He literally “rocked” our world. Frank and I and everyone in the group were never the same again.
This experience lit a fire in my belly, and it satisfied a deep longing in Frank’s soul. Though the rest of the trip was profoundly moving and illuminating, it was this truth he learned in the Valley of Elah—that religion is nothing without relationship—that gave Frank a strong sense of peace and purpose until the day he died. Finally, at the age of eighty-two, he had found his stone.
I returned to the TODAY Show eight days after Frank passed into glory. My children, Cody and Cassidy, came to support me, standing in the wings. On that day, I felt the Lord leading me to share something deeper about Frank than most people knew. I had no idea what I was going to say, but I had a lifetime of experience of God’s faithfulness to give me the words that He would want me to share.
I told the audience that, as a child, Frank had asked Jesus into his heart as Lord and Savior. He had considered himself a Christian his whole life. But he came to realize in the Holy Land that he actually had a religion all his life, but the joy resides in the relationship one has with our loving God, regardless of where or how often you go to church. This was profound for him—and life-changing.
At this writing, the video of that show, which went viral immediately, has reached over seventy million views.
So even while we grieve losing our precious husband, father, and friend, we know that Frank Newton Gifford threw his last stone, bringing God’s shalom to the chaos of the world.
What is your stone? What is your gift? How will you know it?
What is the one thing that you can do that no one else can do but you?
What is your stone?