In the Shepherd's ArmsWednesday, August 08, 2012
About 10 days before he went home to be with the Lord, Dad lost much of his ability to speak. He could still say a word or two, but true conversation with him was gone. Instead, I would sit by his bed and hold his hand. Sometimes I would read to him and at other times I would tell him the things that had been happening at home. I would pause and listen carefully to any word he might try to say, for anything he spoke was precious to me. One day, after I had been sitting with him for a while, he looked straight at me and said “23”. Then he closed his eyes and went to sleep. I was puzzled at first. But then, the next day I realized that he might have been referring to the 23rd Psalm. He was on a journey, after all. So, when I went to visit that afternoon, I felt led to recite the Psalm to him. I entered his room, sat down beside his bed and took his hand in mine. His eyes were closed, but he wasn’t exactly asleep. The nurses told me that he could hear me, so I asked him if when he said “23” he had been talking about the 23rd Psalm. He didn’t answer, but instead, he squeezed my hand. Encouraged, I then prayed the Psalm over him and as I did, his lips moved in sync with my words.
I knew my dad trusted the Lord, for we had spoken of it several times in recent weeks. But, his reaction to the Psalm that day was incredibly poignant and meaningful to me. My prayer was that the words of this beautiful Psalm were comforting him as he went through the Valley.
My dad wasn’t alone on this journey. The Lord was with him. And, Dad knew where he was going. Though my family and I were agonizing over Dad’s suffering, and the loss that would soon be ours, I think my dad was taking comfort in the knowledge that God was preparing a place for him and was leading him there.
I left Dad that night feeling a bit stronger than I had the day before. That evening when I told my husband the events the afternoon, he wondered aloud if Dad would pass on the 23rd. And wouldn’t you know it? A week later, my dad went to meet his Shepherd in the 23rd hour of the 23rd day of July. That was just like him…a real numbers guy, to put that date on his mental calendar. But even more than that, I think it was God’s way to assure us that my dad was with Him…and that he was safe in the Shepherd’s arms.