top of page

Dikkon Eberhart

This piece is really just for fun, so don’t expect any lofty theological or biblical insight.

It’s also about parental pride.

It’s about our son Sam and about how proud Channa and I are of his effort last weekend. She and I were talking about his effort afterwards, and she made a point that got me thinking both about Sam and also—oddly enough—about the apostles and about the prophets.

I’ll tell you Channa’s point in a minute, but, first, here’s why I was thinking about prophets and apostles.

The apostles were a team, and they played a team game.

Their Coach brought them together, showed them The Way, kept their spirits up when they were doubtful or downhearted, chided them when He was tired of their unremembering what He had told them before, applauded them when they got it right, and kept letting them know that a time would come, very soon, when He would not be beside them and they would need to play the game by themselves.

Which, of course, later, they did.

On the other hand, the prophet (any prophet) was a loner.

He was out there on his own. No one helped him; he wasn’t even honored in his own country—to be biblical about it.

Nor did he know whether "‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them"—to be Shakespearian.

What was he to do?

All he could do was to tell the truth—devil take the hindmost.

Each of them told the truth, the apostles and the prophets. Each competed against the enemy. Each sought to win in battle. And—this we are assured—each does win.

(An army friend of mine -- cavalry -- read this post and cautioned me: soldiers fight as teams if they are to be successful, not as solos.)

All things work together for good—this is another thing of which we are assured, right there in no less a place than in Romans 8:28.

It's possible that those whom we have come to call prophets and those whom we have come to call apostles would not have chosen that particular role, if they had been given a choice. Yet each one faithfully did that which was thrust upon him to do.

So that’s how far my thought went about the Apostles and the Prophets before my thought turned back to Sam.

Sam is not a soldier, but he is a dedicated Special Olympian. Over the years, he has competed in basketball, softball, track-and-field (long jump and 100-meter dash), alpine skiing (modified giant slalom), bowling, 50-yard snowshoe racing, bocce, and swimming (freestyle and back stroke).

Here’s Channa’s idea. Some of these are team sports—basketball, softball, bocce. The first two of these are won by making instant tactical decisions based on the ever-changing circumstances on the court or in the field. Bocce does not require instant decisions, but tactics and team play are needed to prevail.

The other sports are based on individual effort (unless it’s a relay).

Sam likes team sports because he likes to be part of the team, but instant decision-making about where it is tactically best to throw the ball, right then, is not one of his skills.

On the other hand, he knows how to go fast. Get in the water or on the slope—and GO!

The majority of Sam’s gold medals have been earned in swimming or in alpine skiing.

The important event last weekend for our family was the Virginia Special Olympics Swimming Tournament, held at an enclosed aquatic center near Richmond. Seven swimmers from the Roanoke club were chosen to compete, Sam being one. Channa and I attended also, so we could watch the competition and have a weekend away.

Sam was selected to swim in three races, 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle and also 50-meter backstroke. All three occurred on Saturday, with about an hour-and-a-half between the two freestyle races but only about fifteen minutes between the longer freestyle race and the backstroke race.

Competing that weekend were hundreds of swimmers, in hundreds of heats, and assisting them were many coaches, volunteers, service providers, and parents. The aquatic center ran the event smoothly. It takes a day-and-a-half to run all the heats. It’s a noisy, echoing, crowded, humid, hot and wonderful time of upholding the spirit of Special Olympics.

Sam’s first race was the 50 free—eight swimmers, paired up as best as possible on the basis of their results last year and on any time trials available. Sam took a silver. The winner was in a class by himself, so Sam was the best of the other seven swimmers by about a length. Good fellow!

After a rest, Sam’s next race was the 100 free. Again, a field of eight. Again, one very competent swimmer dominated throughout.

So the placements I was interested in were second, third, and fourth. These three were evenly matched swimmers. Sam was an easy second until the first turn, when he lost a body length just turning. By his second turn he had faded to a likely fourth. He was fourth during the whole third leg. Starting the fourth and last leg, second and third were neck-and-neck, and Sam was a length-and-half behind. He was flailing a bit.

Then two things happened. One of the neck-and-neck swimmers just seemed to give out. He dropped rapidly from contention, so Sam had third wrapped up. Then—with about fifteen yards to go—Sam earned his second silver medal of the day.

He was a length-and-a-half behind. I saw him take one look at the guy ahead. Then he put his head down and churned and churned, gaining with every stroke. A half-length behind. Even. A foot ahead, two feet, a half-length.

Go, Sam, go!

Sam won his second silver medal, with a flat out effort, by a length and a half.

Proud parents! Last year, Sam took a gold in the 100 free. I was ecstatic. But his competition was less formidable last year than this year. This year was a different event all together. We saw Sam determine himself to win his battle…and win it he did.

The biblical prophets did the same. Sam is not a prophet—except about what he suspects his mother will say he may have for lunch.

Why the Special Olympian and the prophet came together in my head, triggered by Channa’s idea about the difference between the genius of the team player and the genius of the solo-sport player, is that I saw, with my own eyes, in Sam's final fifteen yards of the 100 free, Sam make his determined effort -- to swim the truth about what he knew was to be the way of the world during that fourth leg.

Some prophets deal with the entire functioning of God’s sovereignty and of the universe which He created. Sam’s scope is smaller. But what Sam made happen was his truth.

And he held onto a glimmer of that truth when, about fifteen minutes later, he swam a 50 back.

“Oh, he’s so tired,” Channa commiserated, watching.

All I could think was, “Hold that place, hold that place, hold that place.”

He did, and he took the bronze.

3 views0 comments

Dikkon Eberhart

I am seventy years old.

In the Bible, the Psalmist is usually King David. However, Psalm 90 is attributed differently than usual. It is identified as “A Prayer of Moses – the man of God.

Moses tells us in Psalm 90:10 that seventy years is our human allotment. The King James Version of the Bible elegantly renders seventy years into English as--three score years and ten.

Moses goes on to suggest that, by reason of strength, we humans might reach eighty years. But, he reminds us, that extra decade should be understood realistically for what it is, for, as he states, human life is “a span of toil and trouble: they [the years] are soon gone, and we fly away.”

The baby in the picture is Devar Collins Stanley. He’s eleven days old. He’s still got a long way to go.

Devar is Channa’s and my new grandson. He’s the fourth child of one of our daughters and her husband.

Devar was a big baby at birth, and he’s already regained his birth weight and added two ounces.

Good lookin’, ain’t he?

‘Nuff of the proud grandpa stuff.


Here’s what else I want to say.

I was born seventy years ago, in the year 1946. Because of my behavior with each of our grandchildren—including Devar—I suspect that many grandparents muse as I do upon the births of their grandchildren, wondering what the world will be like when this brand new, yelling baby reaches the age that the grandparents themselves have attained.

My maternal grandparents were Charles and Magdalena Butcher, and I know they mused this way about me because my mother told me that they did. My paternal grandparents would have mused this way, too, I suspect, except they both died before I was born. (Sadly, my sole relationship with them is through my dad’s poetry.)

So today I’m focused on the year 2087, for Devar.


What will the year 2087 have become for seventy-year-old Devar Collins Stanley, if he is blessed to attain his allocated three score years and ten?

I haven’t the faintest notion. (No, I do. But I’ll get to that below.)


When I was young and sitting on my grandmother’s lap, she used to enchant me with recitations of the technological increases she had lived through during her time. Can you believe this? When she was a girl, there weren’t any airplanes or radios, and even cars were just toys for rich people.

Also, though, she bemoaned the decreases she observed during her years.

Particularly she noted the decrease of fundamental knowledge of American and western culture, that was evident to her as her years ran on.

Can you believe this? When she was in school, she and everyone else memorized entire sections of books and whole poems and famous speeches and founding documents and knew by heart the big events of western history…and also, she would admire to me, using the basis of their thorough knowledge, they knew how to discuss these things, too.


When my grandparents mused about me, their new grandson, in 1946 and looked forward to 2017, what did they imagine the year 2017 would have become for me?

I haven’t the faintest notion.

Of course, I have my own notion of what the year 2017 has become for me, now that I am here.

There have been great advances during my seventy years—for example, technical, medical, explorational—some of which my grandparents might not even have understood in concept. Just the same, there have been further decreases in knowledge of—and even respect for the idea of—western culture, which has led to inability, because of lack of knowledge, to discuss it even rationally.


Here my point. For Devar, during his possible three score years and ten, there will be great events, some of which will be determined by commentators to be advancements, some others of which will be determined by commentators to be disasters. That’s just how it is. The total of the up compared with the total of the down?

I haven’t the faintest notion.


I do have one notion about Devar, however, of which I am certain on the basis not only of belief but of evidence.

During his three score years and ten, if he devotes himself to his life on the basis that the God of the universe, its creator and redeemer, is in active and personal search for him in order to bring him into a loving relationship, then he will be blessed, irrespective of the what ups and downs his time in history experiences.

Along with Moses, Devar might become a seventy-year-old man who says, as Moses does, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 10:14, ESV.

…and that’s the very same Moses who already acknowledged, just four verses earlier, that life is tough.

Now, here’s one more notion I have about Devar, and about all our other grandchildren, extant and as they may appear. When you’re a child, three score years and ten looks endless! When you’re there, not so much.

Moses suggests you may get four score years, if you have strength not only of body but of character. Devar, you have good genes, and that may help you as well.

That grandmother of mine from whom you descend? She mused about things in the world until two weeks short of her one hundred second birthday. That father of mine, the poet, from whom you descend? He mused about things in the world until three months after his one hundred first birthday.

Charge on!

And may you be blessed.

3 views0 comments

Dikkon Eberhart

I said to her, “But if he asks you how, you can tell him that I told you, it’s the Lord.”

“He thinks it’s coincidence.”

“What we call coincidence is just another way for God to remain anonymous.”

We two sat on a bench beside the church parking lot. People were coming and going. It was midweek, but there were church programs going on.

The woman’s husband had just been hired for the job he needed—really needed and really wanted—against stiff competition and at the last moment.

I knew he was tolerant of his wife’s Christian commitment, this woman with whom I sat, but my pastor and I were concerned that they were unevenly yoked, the two of them, and that fact was troublesome for her.

Perhaps it was troublesome for him, too, as I thought of it. I wondered whether he realized the uneven yoke was galling to him, too. I knew they were eight years into their marriage. I suspected that the glow was wearing off. They had the two daughters, and not much money. Yesterday, when she had called and asked for a time to speak with me, she had a clutch in her voice. She confessed that she might be pregnant. This new job was a god-send.

But did he understand that the uneven yoke was the reason for their trouble, as I suspected that it was? Or did he attribute the trouble between them to the glow wearing off?

Her former prettiness had a scrim across it nowadays of doubt.

“What am I going to tell him about the job as a miracle?” she asked. “I can’t tell him I believe it's that.”


“It won’t make any sense to him.”

I was early in my deaconate. I wished it were the pastor who was sitting next to her, and not me. But it was me—she was one of our congregants who had been assigned to my spiritual care.

“He’s a good worker,” I said, as an offering, not knowing what to say but desiring to probe her feelings.

She nodded. “He’s a good man. Good with our girls, I never worry about him fooling around.”

“Yet you sound sad.”

She smiled a little. “Not about that. He is a good man.”


She looked away. It was warm in the parking lot, this early spring. She had fair hair which at the moment was in pleasant disarray. “I feel lonely.” She glanced at me shyly. She looked away. “Oh, maybe I should just grow up.”

A line from a hymn came into my head. When sorrows like sea billows roll….

“I think you should tell him that the job is miraculous, for your heart's peace. Tell him that the job—coming as it did, right now, just when you need it most, with maybe the new baby—that the job actually is a miracle, from the Lord.”

“He’ll laugh at me.”

“Tell him I think it’s from the Lord.”

She looked straightly at me. “He’s not going to want to hear that coming from you.” I watched her eyes, hearing what she said and why she said it, realizing too that I thought her still pretty.

“He knows you’re talking to me?”

She shook her head. Looked away.

“That’s not a good idea.”

She shrugged. I was glad that people were going in and out of the church. I identified a few of them who might see us, out in the open, just to remember.

“Look, he needs to know what you think about this. You need to press on past his laughing at you.”

“I have.”

“Draw him in.”

“He doesn’t want to come in.”

"Does he want to keep a barrier between you?”

Again, she shrugged. “He’s a guy.”


“He’s in charge. He’ll work it out. It’s okay. We’ll be fine.”

“But you’re not fine.”

“Maybe I should just grow up.”

She sat back with her hands crossed in her lap, looking elsewhere. I sat back also and looked elsewhere, too. Then I looked back at her. “You know, the Holy Spirit knows your situation. The Holy Spirit intercedes with Jesus. Anything might happen, and whatever does happen is for the purposes of the Lord.”

“I know."

“I recognize that it’s a hard concept for those who don’t know the Lord.”

“What you said about coincidence?”


“He’ll say, why should your God desire to remain anonymous? How do I answer that?”

“God’s purpose is to save us, to have us with Him. His purpose is for us to be able to glorify Him. But He didn’t create us as slaves. It only counts when we come to Him by our free will. That’s why He desires to be anonymous. Miracles are His intervention, but we need to figure that out—that they are His, and that they are for us -- by ourselves.”

She thought a minute and then touched my arm lightly. “That might intrigue him. He likes figuring things out, how things work.” Then she smiled, brightly this time. “He is, after all, a guy.”

I smiled back at her. “Keep pressing.”

Then she startled me. “No,” she said, “enticing.”

“That’s the spirit.”

Then we prayed together, beside the church parking lot in the early spring. I was unsure of myself. But I liked that she had said enticing.

Really, enticement is the way of the Holy Spirit.

Enticement rules.

[Some circumstances changed to protect the then non-believing.]

13 views0 comments
bottom of page