I was over a hundred miles from home recently when I looked up and saw someone from my past. "Is that Beverly?" I thought. Sure enough, I noticed that her husband Dave was walking just ahead of her on a narrow sidewalk. I called out to them and discovered that they were there looking for me. They phoned my office earlier that day and discovered that I was in another town so they stopped there (they weren't far away) to see me. We spent a few precious hours catching up.
At one time, Dave was Associate Pastor at the church where I serve. When I arrived in 1986, he had been on the church staff for 3 years. They continued to serve there until he accepted a pastorate in 1991. For the past 15 years they have been in Colorado, where they have planted and tend a church made up of three distinct congregations.
Every opportunity I have to spend time with them is cherished. They have taught me much about walking through storms.
Dave was a young husband and dad with two children when he arrived stateside after his second tour in Viet Nam. He called his wife as he disembarked from a troop ship and told her he would be home (in the midwest) in a few days. That's the last time he spoke with her. When he got there, someone else was watching their kids and she had just disappeared. She abandoned them. He heard that she was alive, but was never able to locate her. Finally, with his hope lost, he filed for divorce.
Beverly was a young mom with two children when she lost her first husband. She was trying to hold things together as a single parent when she met Dave. Love sparked between them and they got married with a commitment that they would both accept all four children as their own. A short time later, God blessed them with another son.
Dave was a career Marine, who was assigned to MCAS Yuma. They began attending the church and, at the time, Dave was petrified of praying in public. He wanted to serve God, though, and applied himself to learn Scripture verses and grow in his understanding of how a church operates. Finally, he chose retirement after 27 years in the Corps, and immediately went to work at the church. By the time I met him, he was a good leader who loved God and had a great heart for people.
The past few years have been stressful and painful for this wonderful couple. One of their daughters, who is herself now a grandmother, contracted a disease that ultimately took away all control of her muscles. Dave and Bev moved her into their home and Bev is the primary caregiver.
Just a couple of years ago, one of their grandsons had been home from Iraq for about a month. He was in a car accident that took his life. A year and a half later, that young man's dad -- Dave and Beverly's son -- died suddenly of a heart attack.
I heard somewhere that problems will make us either bitter or better. If you spend 5 minutes with this couple, you can feel the love flowing from their broken hearts.
They aren't who they are in spite of their storms...
...but because of them.