If 36 is old, how much older is 63? A dyslexic would find this to be a challenging question, and it was one that has set my mind to thinking.
On the 18th day of this month, I’ll be 63. It dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that 63 is the dyslexic version of 36—my dad’s age when he was fatally injured while working in the oil patch.
That was 1965 and this is 2016. In 1965, I thought 36 was old. Now that I’m 63, I realize how young Dad was when his life was snuffed out by an explosion. I began to reminisce about this while I was meditating on the first verse of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want.”
To be honest, for the first third of my life, I wanted nothing to do with the Shepherd. I was a black sheep who lived in a perimeter outside of the Shepherd’s fold. I thought I didn’t need Him and was just fine without Him, but that all changed in 1972—I got real close to seeing Dad again.
As the ambulance rushed me to the ER, the scream of the sirens was muffled by the power of the dark shadows of Death as they began to close in on me. I guess the Shepherd was just getting my attention. He had to overwhelm with the darkness before I could be over-joyed by the light of His presence, and it was a life-changing experience.
Several years ago my Dad’s older brother was succumbing to the ravages of cancer, and I visited him almost daily. Kenneth would drift in and out from being very lucid to a state that was both mysterious and delirious.
As Kenneth was crossing back and forth between the boundaries of heaven and earth, he’d see his loved ones, and say: “Well there’s Mom and Dad.” When he drifted back into the reality of his room for a few minutes, we’d discuss what he’d just seen.
One time Kenneth drifted away and as he walked the streets of gold, his face lit up with a smile, and he said: “Look at that! There’s Eddie.”
Since Kenneth had just seen my dad, I asked him for a favor: “Kenneth, when you cross over and get to heaven, tell Dad ‘Hello,’ for me. I haven’t seen him for a long time, and I still miss him.”
Kenneth barely had time to honor my request before he began to drift away again. This time was different; he became calmer than I’d seen him for weeks, and he said, “Well there’s Clara Mae,” and he was ready to die.
Clara Mae was his wife who had died a few years earlier. Along with her, Kenneth had also found his parents, his brother, and his wife, but most importantly the Shepherd had found him.
Jesus has been a good Shepherd to me. He once said that He came to “seek and to save the lost.” I’m glad He kept pursuing me and that I finally heard the Shepherd’s invitation to join Him.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 ~The Message