Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

The Long Shadow Of John Shearer

Can it really be nearly thirty years now he has been gone? I was fresh out of preaching school and working back at my home congregation when I met John Shearer, Christian. I didn’t meet him at the church building though. He was confined to home. Age and arthritis had bested his body. He was skin and bones…hands terribly deformed by the disease…pain a constant companion for him. He had a pair of those glasses…they looked like someone had cut out the bottoms of coke bottles and placed them in frames…made his eyes look so large…so searching.
His hair was pure white. His bones had become so brittle that he broke one once…just by shifting the wrong way in his stuffed chair.

But, my what a spirit old John had! He always welcomed my visits…no matter how much pain the night had brought him. He would smile…ask about me and everyone down at church…loved to have me read some Bible…and always, always asked me to pray.

After years of battling, the pain was becoming unbearable. It was then Br. John began to ask me, as he looked at me with those large, searching eyes of his, “Doug, why doesn’t He take me home?” I (who at that point had never known any real pain) told him, “He will, John. He will.” And then he would fix me with his gaze and ask, with all the fervor he could muster, “When?” I would try to answer the best I could (both of us knowing I had no idea about the when or the why). John and I would have that exchange repeatedly over the next year or so, until one day the Lord answered his request and took him home, leaving all the pain and questions behind.

But he also left something else behind. Years later I realized one of the answers to John’s question, “Why doesn’t He take me home?” You see, on some level I thought (at least at first) I was being the kind and comforting local preacher doing something for a poor shut-in, when I went to visit John. I thought the real victories were the public kind being won in pulpits across the land. I knew almost nothing of the resistance movement John was part of in his nearly forgotten, quiet way in his lonely cubicle of pain. He daily (and nightly) resisted the agony…resisted bitterness…resisted doubt and despair…resisted quitting…resisted complaining and murmuring. He did this with a strength I could not have imagined…a strength that could come only from His Lord. It was a heroic struggle. A struggle he won by grace through faith. He was (is) a hero as far as I am concerned. God kept him on earth for that time to begin showing an upstart preacher boy (who thought he had so many answers) real strength and the victory that overcomes the world.

I wish you could have know John Shearer. You would have loved him too. One of these days…

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One thought on “The Long Shadow Of John Shearer

  1. oakesclan on said:

    Rex said…
    I don’t think I was ever blessed to meet John Shearer. His prayer for rest was granted just before I moved to Dayton to work with you. But I do know the preacher – the minister – the man – God made of you through John and a host of other hurting people you have taught – served – and loved. You have always placed yourself in the “classroom” of John, Betty, Ethyl, Lois, and others. You were there with them, because you wanted to minister to them – but you also opened your heart to love them and to learn from them. I didn’t know John, but I know that man that was John’s preacher – you. I have learned much about grace, patience, and ministry from you. I love you … friend.

    7:43 PM

    Sherry Fisher said…
    I love our Father for working through the lives of people to teach us…to teach us things we don’t even imagine we are there to learn…to teach us when we think we are the one in the “leadership” role or the one doing the favor to another. God has taught me these sort of things more often lately it seems. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older…maybe it’s because my broken road makes me a little more aware of the God things in my life. Whatever the case may be, I hope that I don’t miss the lessons that God is teaching me through people He brings into my life.

    Thank you for sharing your memory of John. I wish I could have known him. Like you said, one of these days…

    8:33 PM

    doug the old said…
    I have to tell you one of the (many) special privileges that has fallen to me because of His work in you. It was a blessing I only came to better realize later. I’m talking about the times I was able to watch the faces of people who were being taught, ministered to, and blessed by you. I will not forget the eager look in their eyes. The look that said,
    “Finally, someone who speaks for God who is for real.” Thank you for that privilege. You are one of the best teachers in my “classroom.”

    I can tell from the things you write that there’s not much getting past you. You have eyes to see and ears to hear the wonderful things of God. And because of that your mouth speaks (or your heart writes) the wonders of Him. I like your spirit.

    12:13 PM

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