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He's My Shepherd

For more than fifty years, my father was a pastor and conducted numerous funerals. I particularly remember the tragic death and funeral of my best friend's father. My father often told a favorite story about a little boy who was desperately ill. His parents recognized that he probably soon would die. They sent for the local pastor. He came at night to visit the child, who was semiconscious. He was unable to speak and apparently never spoke in any acknowledgment of the pastor's presence.

The pastor was alone in the child's upstairs room and left late at night. He returned early the next morning after the boy had died. He did his best to console the parents. He prayed with them. He grieved with them.

Later the parents asked the pastor if he had any explanation for something that had happened. They told the pastor that in the hours before their son died and at the time of his death, he was holding the ring finger of one hand with his other hand. He died in that position.

It was then the pastor explained what he had said that night in the child's room. He had wanted to explain to that child on the edge of eternity not only the importance of being a Christian but in a child's language how to become one. He said he had taken their son's hand and first held his thumb and had said, "The--because, we're talking about one of a kind."

Then he held his next finger and said, "Lord." For the next finger, he said God himself is right here. The next finger: my, a personal commitment and relationship. For the last finger: shepherd, the one who owns, who died, who cares and loves: Jesus.

While he had not spoken, the child had heard. Before he died, he put his hand around the finger to say, "The Lord is my shepherd."

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