"Thank you Al & Virginia"
1984 - Greensboro, NC
I was at the very lowest point in my life. I had lost most everything that I considered of value, including my family. I had cried until tears would no longer come. It seemed that all I had worked for and dreamed for was now beyond any hope of saving. Alone, with no furniture but a worn out canvas directors chair, and a used mattress on the floor, I often sat on the floor in my apartment, lonely, confused and depressed.
One Sunday morning, I decided to take a drive. I ended up driving by a very small Church of the Nazarene. For some unknown reason - well, we all know why - I thought, I think I will go inside. Church had already begun, as I slipped quietly in the back and sat on the back pew. There may have been 20 or so people there - all much older than I. The pastor was already delivering the morning message by the time I sat down.
To this day I have no memory of a single word that was said, or a song that was sung. But having been in the Church of the Nazarene all of my 39 years, and the son of a Nazarene Pastor, I knew well the 'routine'. So as the service was about to close, I quietly slipped out during the Pastor's closing prayer.
I just about made it to the door, when out of 'no-where' an old lady - well, she seemed old - appeared directly in my path. "I'm sorry, I didn't get to meet you, my name is Virginia - what is yours?" I tried not to be rude, as I quietly told her my name. "Well, my husband Al and I would like to take you to lunch. I hope that would be okay?" Before I realized what I had done, I said, "Yeah, I guess so".
Al and Virginia took me to lunch at a restaurant somewhere, and we had small conversation. They inquired only about the usual things, like what brought you to Church this morning? - "I don't really know?" Are you married? "Well, at the moment, although we are separated". Where do you live? - "Just around the corner". At some point, the conversation turned to golf. Probably, since Al was an avid golfer and spent most of his retirement days on the golf course - probably to the dismay of Virginia. Do you like to play golf, Mark? "Absolutely". Well, I am going to take you golfing tomorrow, you're not busy are you? Again, before I knew it, I said - "No".
So Al picked me up Monday morning and we had a good time playing golf. On the way back to my apartment, he said - "Virginia has some pie and ice cream for us, so I am going by the house first, I am sure you won't mind?" Well, you know what I mumbled.
The pie and ice cream were okay I guess - I honestly don't remember. What I DO remember is what happened next. "Mark here are the keys to our back door. We have a sun porch. You can come here ANY time you wish. Just sit or sleep. Get something from the fridge. Watch TV, Do whatever you wish. Just hang out. It is for YOU. We are here for you, but only if you want or need us. I hope you will accept this. Okay?" And by now, you know what I said.
I don't actually remember what I said? I do know that over the next three months or so, I spent many hours on the sun porch, at the kitchen table, on the golf course, and even at church with Al & Virginia.
They were 'naturally' God's rivers to me. God knew I needed 'just that' - unconditional, but intentional love. And I knew that it was from God - through - them. The 'rest of the story' has many twists and turns and is too lengthy to tell here. But, I have no doubt whatsoever, that I would not be writing this memory today - 30 years later - about God's grace and love if it were not for two of His very special rivers, who are today praising God along with countless others in heaven.
Thank you Al & Virginia
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Roll back the curtain of memories now and then.
Remind me where you brought me from,
and where I might have been.
Remember, I'm human and tend to forget,
So remind me - remind me, Dear Lord.
From the song - Remind me Dear Lord.