Knowing the psalm, or the Shepherd?

Chuck Tabor - Contributing columnist

One Sunday morning in January of 1994, I stopped at a convenience store to fill up the car with gas. While there, I noticed a very rare scenario for January in Minnesota — a van was exiting the car wash attached to the convenience store.

Normally, on cold winter days in Minnesota, people do not run their vehicles through the car washes. But on this occasion, a dark-colored van was exiting the car wash.

There were several people inside the store waiting for the driver to complete his “washing” duties. While I stood at the pump, I watched these other individuals rush to the van, pull from the rear a couple of magnetic signs, which they then attached to the side of the van.

It was only then that I realized that this “crew” were the team that would be knocking on the door of someone’s home in the area and surprising them with the news, “Congratulations! You have won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes, and we are here to present you with this check for $10,000,000!”

I later discovered they knocked on the door of Al & Diane Slivnik, a retired farmer and his wife, who lived in a nearby neighborhood.

Following the presentation, the Slivniks shared several goals they had for spending the money they had won. They revealed that they would use the money to bless their family and invest for the future. Mr Slivnik confessed that even with the large check presented to them for the television program, he did not really know that he would get the money. But when he received a cashier’s check for $100,000.00 along with a contract pledging the payout of the rest of the prize over time, he was then convinced this was indeed for real.

I think, just seeing the film crew coming out of a car wash in the middle of January in Minnesota, would have been enough to convince me it was for real!

Would you like to trade places with the Slivniks? Would his doubts about getting the money be yours as well?

What happens down the line, especially if the company goes belly up? But then ultimately, doesn’t it come down to the question of how do you know that you know? If I were to ask you how you know that you are sitting (or standing, or whatever you happen to be doing) where you are right now, how would you respond?

The apostle Paul stated that one of his goals was to “know Christ”. Quite frankly, that is one of my goals as well.

But how does that work? What does it mean to “know Christ”? And how do we know when it has occurred?

Quite frankly, there are some things it does NOT mean, things that are often confused with knowing Him. Such things as knowing the history of his life on earth, or knowing the doctrine and teaching he proclaimed, or knowing such things as the fact that he is coming again.

All of these are knowing ABOUT Christ, but are not knowing Christ Himself. One other thing is thinking you know Him, because you may be familiar with his teaching, his history, or his coming again, when you do not.

But all those things are important factors in knowing Christ. In fact, they begin the process of knowing Him, but when I truly know someone, I know His personality. I know what pleases Him, what displeases Him, what makes Him tick.

I have a lifelong goal, and that is to know my wife like I know no other human being. I must tell you, that the longer I am with her, the more I realize I do not know about her. But I have dedicated my life to becoming a student of that woman to whom I have been married for over 47 years!

And believe me, almost every day I find I am learning something new about her.

It is the same way with Christ. Every day, by spending time with Him in His Word and allowing Him permission to work in us and through us, we learn new things about him.

There was an event some years ago in which a famous Shakespearean actor was the guest of honor. He was given the opportunity to speak, and at the conclusion of his speech, he invited comments from the floor, expecting the audience to request that he, in his brilliant elocution, recite brief portions of famous pieces of literature.

One old gentleman stood to his feet and asked the speaker if he would recite the 23rd Psalm. The actor, perceiving that this man was indeed familiar with that psalm, told the man that he would be glad to recite the psalm on one condition – that, after he had finished, the old man himself would, in like manner, recite the very same psalm.

The man reluctantly consented, and the actor proceeded to brilliantly and beautifully recite the six verses of this most familiar of the psalms. When he finished, the audience politely applauded and he was grateful for the recognition.

Then the old man stood and began to recite the same verses. At the conclusion of his recitation, the audience was spell-bound. There was not a dry eye in the room as everyone had been so deeply moved. When they finally realized his recitation was complete, the crowd stood to their feet and gave him a lengthy standing ovation.

A friend of the actor’s leaned over to him and asked him if he was upset that the old man received a greater applause than he did. He said, with tears in his own eyes, “No”.

His friend then inquired as to why the applause was so great for the old man. The actor responded, “Because I know the psalm. He knows the Shepherd.”

Knowing Christ is just that difference.

Do you just know the psalm? Or do you really know the Shepherd?

God bless …

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected]

Chuck Tabor

Contributing columnist