In the Shepherd's Arms

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

My dad was a real numbers guy. Math calculations always came easily to him. I remember many times when I was younger, my dad trying to help me with my homework. What seemed so easy for him was always challenging for me. I’m sure that was a source of frustration for him. But, he always kept a sense of humor about it. He would tell me that math was important, as with it he would always know how many people were in the room because he would count their legs and divide by two! Though he had a sharp mind, he would still diligently mark things down on the calendar as he loved to be organized. But, even without his written record, he always knew the dates of upcoming events, and past events for that matter. I would marvel at his ability to always remember seemingly insignificant dates on his mental calendar.

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.



“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. 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…” (Psalm 23:1-3). 

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.


“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for You are with me…” (Psalm 23:4).

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.



“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever” (Psalm 12:6). 

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.

Trusting Him,





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45 comments

  1. I loved this. It has brought tears to my eyes thinking about my own Dad who is not so young anymore and how he does funny little things such as tie shoes so they don't come untied...which he's taught my kids to do. Thanks for writing this lovely post.

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  2. This is an amazing testimony, Joan.  Brought tears to my eyes.  What  a blessing that were were able to be with him and share the 23rd Psalm together taking comfort from God's Word.  My husband Joel was able to spend the last few days with his mom before she went to be with the Lord last Dec.  He cherishes those days greatly.  God bless

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  3. Thank you, Mindy.  I'm cherishing these memories of my Dad and the things he has taught me.  What a blessing God gave us in our dads!

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  4. The passing of a loved one is always difficult...I don't think I fully realized that until this past month.  However, I do take great joy in the memories and special moments spent with him.  What a blessing your husband had to be able to spend those last days with his mom!

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  5. That is the amazing and abundant love of the Lord!  Wowzers; gave me goosebumps.  God Bless you as the Lord holds you and your family is His wonderful enfolding and comforting embrace.

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  6. What a poignant and beautiful story. God bumps and God incidences for sure. It was good for you to be able to spend this time with your dad before his passing, and to have that assurance about where  he would be afterward. Both my parents' deaths were rather unexpected, and I did not have complete assurance about my father, but God had special God incidences for me, too. Blessings of peace and comfort to you. 

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  7. Elizabeth StewartAugust 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    This is an amazingly beautiful story.  I'm here from Jennifer's linky, and so glad I stopped by.

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  8. This is just an incredible example of a God-incidence, Joan. All those 23s. Wow. Thank you for sharing this touching post. I'm sure this memory will forever be very special to you, and now we've been blessed in your sharing. Grateful for you. 

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  9. Thanks, Jennifer!  I don't believe in coincidences...but God-incidences are all around us!  Blessings to you!

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  10. I'm so glad you stopped by, Elizabeth!  Blessings!

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  11. I am forever thankful for the time spent with my dad.  May God continue to give you "God-incidences" to help reassure and comfort you!  Blessings, Joan

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  12. God's love is abundant...He is an amazing God!  Blessings to you, Leslie!

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  13. Oh, just beautiful. I'm so glad I stopped by from Jennifer's place. These memories that form during those precious days as a loved one rests on the margin between earth and heaven, they're especially treasured, aren't they? 

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  14. Sheila,  Oh yes...these memories hold a special place in my heart.  I am so thankful to have had this time with my Dad.  Thanks for stopping by today!  Blessings, Joan

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  15. Such a beautiful post.  It gave me chills to read this.  My prayers are with your family.
    Bethany

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  16. Thank you, Bethany!  I think God speaks to us in so many different ways.  What a blessing it is to receive reassurance from Him!

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  17. Hi Joan, such a lovely tribute to your dad and such a great story.  Its good to have such a great thing to remember.  The number 23 will never be the same for you again.  
    God bless
    Tracy

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  18. You are right...now, for me, the number 23 brings assurance of heaven our the hope we have in the Lord!  God is so good!

    Blessings, Joan

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  19. What a wonderful way to spend your final days with your Dad... Wonderful memories to be sure. Hugs! 

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  20. Yes...though it was an extremely difficult time, I wouldn't have missed it.  It was a blessing to be with him during those days.

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  21. Wow, What a beautiful story.  Thanks for sharing your final moments with your Dad with us.  God is so good.

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  22. Yes...God is so good...ALL THE TIME!  Blessings to you, Lynn!

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  23. What a very touching story and mighty work of God. Psalm 23, my favorite chapter too.

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  24. That was beautiful!  I had a similar experience with a special aunt.  Before she died of cancer, when she was so weak that she could hardly whisper, she would struggle so to form the words to request that I read Psalm 23 to her just one more time...

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  25. I love how God can choose to speak to us in so many ways...What a blessing!

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  26. The 23rd Psalm brings such assurance and comfort...it is no wonder that your aunt and my Dad were meditating on it during their last days.  What a blessing!

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  27. Beautiful memory, Joan. Thanks for sharing.

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  28. Beautiful story!!!

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  29. Wow, Joan. This brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful legacy your dad left you. I'm so glad you're sharing it with us.
    Blessings,Charlotte

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  30. I don't know why it used my hubby's profile picture when I signed in with Google. Oh well, it is not he, it is me. LOL

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  31. Oh Joan....this is beautiful. What a precious memory you have of one of the last times with your Dad. And yes, God does things to assure us.  My Mom always loved rainbows. On the morning of her funeral, I saw the most beautiful rainbow in the sky. It was if God was reaching down to me, assuring me that she was in Heaven with Him.

    Blessings and love,
    Joan

    PS - My Dad used to help me with my math also. :)

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  32. Wow; this is truly amazing!  It is so good to remember that hearing is the last sense to go.  When I worked as a nurse, we always told the families this so they would be careful what they said in front of their loved one. I'm so glad you got to read the 23rd Psalm to your dad.  What a special memory that will be.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

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  33. Such precious memories.  I'm sure David didn't know what this Psalm would mean to so many people.  I remember someone reading it to my grandmother on the day she went to meet the Shepherd.  

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  34. Thank you so much.  Blessings to you!

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  35. Thanks, Charlotte!  I am so comforted by this reassurance from the Lord!

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  36. I'm sure that you can never look at rainbows quite the same way again!  What a blessing to receive that assurance!

    Blessings, Joan

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  37. I read a great book through this time called, "Final Gifts".  It was written by two Hospice nurses. In it, the writers talked about hearing as the last sense.  I'm so glad to have been aware of that, you know?  The book also talked about the special language of those who are in their last days or weeks.  It was amazing how my dad followed almost to a "t" what was written.  

    Blessings, Joan

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  38. Yes, this is an incredibly special Psalm.  Besides what it now means to me regarding my dad's passing, during another difficult time of years ago, its words kept me going and strengthened me.

    Blessings, Joan

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  39. I so love that Psalm, it comforts when we are in the valleys.  

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  40. Beautiful Joan! What a precious departure--how sweet of our God with 23!!! I love this. Watching you with your Dad and your mom during his home going has been so incredibly tender. He is blessed to have a daughter like you, indeed. And how kind of your Dad and God to speak 23! I think they were in Cahoots together!

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  41. "Cahoots" is right!  That made me smile...thanks, Valerie!  I am so thankful for the assurance God through this beautiful Psalm. =)

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  42. Yes, it is no wonder that the 23rd Psalm is a favorite for so many people.  It captures the heart of God, doesn't it?

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  43. Hi Joan, I love how our Lord knows exactly what we need to the most incredible detail that leaves you in awe of His Majesty. It is beautiful and so thankful that You have this gift to hold onto.
    Blessings

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  44. Hi Anita! I found your comment today as I went back "in time" through my blog and read this post. Yes, it is amazing how God knows exactly what we need! I am so thankful that He gave us this reassurance and the wonderful memory to share.


    Blessings, Joan

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