Fifty-four years ago tonight, sometime past midnight over the mountainous jungle of Southeast Asia, my friend and wing man, Robert “Vince” Willett, Jr., gave the last full measure of devotion for his country, at the age of 25, in a spectacular departure for glory. No trace of plane or pilot has ever been found. Only our Sovereign God can explain why a firehose of tracer fire enveloped us both and got him, not me.

“ … in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16).

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Matthew Henry explained the latter verse well.  I find great comfort in it as, a lifetime later, that dark night over the Ho Chi Minh Trail is as vivid in my memory as it was the morning after.

“It is an excellent art rightly to number our days, so as not to be out in our calculation, as he was who counted upon many years to come when, that night, his soul was required of him. We must live under a constant apprehension of the shortness and uncertainty of life [as surely Vince and I were that moonless night in the Orient] and the near approach of death and eternity. We must so number our days … as those that have no time to trifle … No man then can regulate his life with a settled mind, but he who knowing the end of it, that is to say death itself, is led to consider the great purpose of man’s existence in this world, that he may aspire after the prize of the heavenly calling.”

Lord, we know not the day nor the hour you have determined, and each dawn we are one day closer. Just because we are not dueling with big-caliber weapons does not mean we are one heartbeat further away from our end. Teach us by your Spirit, that we might get a heart of wisdom to aspire after the prize of the heavenly calling as if today were the day. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

See you in church.

The rest of the story of that dark night.


One Response to “NUMBER YOUR DAYS”

  1. Paul Says:

    Dear JD,

    I think of you often, my friend, in the context of losing Vince that terrible night. Thank God for sparing me from that awful experience. I have read and re-read your “COGITATION” below… every precious word.

    Thank you once again for your wonderful words to live by.


    Sent from Mail for Windows


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