I was two years old when my father was called to fight in the Korean War. I have no memory of when he left, but I definitely remember him picking me up and hugging me over a year later when he returned to us at the Navy dock in San Diego, California. Korea changed Dad. He suffered severe frostbite on his legs and feet so he walked like he was walking on broken glass. Also, he rarely slept more than four hours a night because of the nightmares that plagued him. Early on I remember his hands shaking from what they called “nerves,” and he could not walk into a darkened movie theater for many years. (Dad said it reminded him of the night he had to keep running along a steep ridge as he and his fellow Marines were shot at from either side. Anyone shot had to be left, because the enemy was so close they “could hear them breathing.”) It was rough carrying so many memories of war, but Dad worked hard and did his best to provide for our family.
Eventually, my parents worked to build a successful dry cleaning business. While Dad cleaned and pressed the clothes, Mom did alterations of all sorts. My brother and I helped Dad take care of customers, marked in clothes and put orders together when we weren’t in school. To most people, Dad’s handwriting on their receipts was an almost indecipherable scribble, but after working together for so many years and because I loved Dad, it became as familiar to me as my own. Almost fifty years later that proved to be an asset when I transcribed ninety-two of the letters Dad wrote to Mom during the year he was gone. I must admit there were challenges (some letters I had to hold up to a light to make out the faded writing.) But for me, it was a labor of love as I imagined Dad writing home from such a hostile environment. As I carefully opened each letter, unfolded the fragile paper and started to read, it was as if I could hear his voice speaking through time. To be honest, I believe transcribing Dad’s letters was one of the most worthwhile things I will ever do for our family. His letters reveal the character of a young family man who wanted to be home but learned to love and care about the men he served with. To this day, he can still tell you the names of many who “didn’t make it” back to their families.
Just as I recognized Dad’s “voice” speaking from a time when I was small, I believe Jesus was referring to a similar familial connection when He responded to the questions of some men who rejected Him as God’s Son in John 10:27-30,
“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
When Jesus came to this earth He knowingly stepped into enemy territory, a spiritual battle fraught with danger, to save those who would listen to His voice for eternity. In my last post I wrote about Connecting Your Story with His.
It is as we connect our stories with His though faith, that we learn to listen and recognize the voice of the Shepherd of our souls.
Do you have such a connection? Do you recognize His voice as He speaks to your heart? Then embrace the miracle of a changed heart and mind; remember the battle waged that ultimately secured your redemption. If you do not know the voice of the Shepherd but desire to, then answer His invitation given in Mark 1:15,
“The time has come,” He said. “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News!”
His Sacrifice given on your behalf and mine proves He is worthy of our trust . . .