As the Hart Panteth…

If you read “You and God” regularly, you know that it is usually Tuesday and Thursday that it will show up in your inbox; but on this Father’s Day 2021 my heart is telling me to share with those who read these posts some reflections about a grandson whose absence from our family gathering today, especially as we gather around a well spread dinner table with our dearest on earth, will not go unnoticed.  His name is David.  At the age of eleven God called him to Himself, and though we will never get “past” the loss of his sweet smile and quiet presence we have learned to rejoice that he is being spared the ominously dark clouds that all of us who are still earth-bound have come to of necessity co-exist with as we await His return or our departure.

David was the shadow of his dad, Dale Nye.  He looked like him, thought like him, ate like him and as much as an eleven-year-old boy could, worked like him.  If you had seen David, you had seen Dale and pretty much vice-verse with an age adjustment. Dale builds custom homes and about the time of David’s death he was building a home for the Nye family to move into.  It was a beautiful home and David was, as much as possible, at his dad’s side helping, fetching, holding, turning and whatever instruction Dale would issue.

David liked knives and always tried to have one on his person.  That was one thing his dad forbade him to carry though, so David had to be “discreet” in how and when he brandished his hardware.  But it was generally known that he probably could come up with one if needed.  At times, Dale would be in a particular pinch discovering that any tool he could put his hands on was not one that would do the job.  David, his shadow, was in reach and on one especially exasperating situation, Dale having tried in vain every way he could try to accomplish the task, in total frustration uttered the directive loud and clear: “David, give me your knife!”  Pronto, the lad’s pocket knife came forth, job was completed and nothing was said by the dad as to where the knife came from.  Case closed!

David loved children and played with them and entertained them with his boyish antics.  He would have loved to have held and hugged the precious little sister that his mother gave birth to just weeks after David lost his battle to live longer here.  

As a youngster, David loved the Lord and had vowed to serve and please him.  Though he was quiet by nature, he was not bashful about singing songs in praise to God.  A few weeks before he was finally and fully laid to rest, he mounted a chair behind the TRBC pulpit so he could see those to whom he was singing and offered to God the vocal tribute, “As the hart panteth.”  It would be his last public way to thank God for his salvation, and it was touching and inspiring to hear his testimony in song, originally sung by another David at another time:  (Ps. 42:1) In my imagination I can picture God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit taking note of David’s singing, with his heart, that Psalm about his heart panting after God, and the Godhead, after a brief discussion, agreeing that David need pant no more, the order being issued to make preparations for David’s abundant entrance into the glorious heavenlies.

In those wrenching hours between David’s death at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis and the time that family and friends would gather in a worship service to acknowledge that our God gives and He takes away and His name is surely to be blessed, the Lord put these brief lines upon my heart and they are written in stone on David’s grave today:

You were ours these precious years,

We give you back to God with tears.

You made our life bright with your smile,

You were God’s gift for just a while.

You’ll ever be within our heart,

And, those in Christ are not apart.

You’re only “there” and we are here,

But in our Savior, you’re so near.

Thanks for your love, your kindness true

And, ever David, we’ll love you.”

I know that many a family circle will be broken today as loved ones, once with us laughing, living and loving are now gone and every father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, brother, sister friend will be momentarily pained in their heart as they remember lovingly the soul that once filled that empty chair.  I hope that each of you will be buoyed by the hope that David’s Dad, and Mom and family and extended circle of loved ones who know the one whose heart David panted after will have that resurrection promise tucked deeply into your heart: “Let not your heart be troubled… I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also.” (John 14:1,3)

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.” (Ps. 42:1)

One thought on “As the Hart Panteth…

  1. Tony, just read the memorial blog about David, “As the Hart Panteth.” I remain, after all these years, totally amazed at how often David comes to my mind. I knew him before he passed into glory, but only as well as an uncle who lived five hours away could know a young nephew. I can say I prayed for him during his life. I need not pray for him anymore. He is home! Anyway, God has used your pen, with the precious memories you have shared from your up close perspective, to make me closer to my sweet little nephew after his death than I ever was during his life. I sincerely thank you for this, as do others in our family. I will never forget those days and was so grateful that you (along with Dale & Marti) privileged me with the joy of preaching his funeral message. I always felt I was treading on ground that was yours alone on which to walk. I can only say I never before up to that time and never since had the thoughts for a sermon so easily roll off my mind and onto paper. Your decision was a sacrifice and it was part of all the grace that God so wondrously manifested to all of us at that time. David, like the beloved disciple who leaned on Jesus’ breast at the last supper, is feasting with Christ in heaven in ways far beyond our ability to even imagine.

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