Two years ago today, our family embarked on a trip to Boston and New York City we will never forget. From an overnight stay in Tennessee with beloved friends, to an unexpected detour to Lexington,Virginia (where we visited the house of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson), to seeing the Boston Red Sox play in Fenway Park (on the coldest night in recorded history, in my opinion), to hearing John Williams conduct the Boston Symphony, to happening upon Walden Pond, to seeing the wonders of New York City from both its streets and the top of Rockefeller Center, to visiting the Statue of Liberty (where the single most patriotic person in the United States, Frances, was frisked, puffed, and treated as a suspected terrorist), to eating some of the best food we’ll ever taste (thank God for Roccos!), the journey was a gift of God in these and countless other ways.
When thinking of the trip, however, that which most comes to mind involves a dear couple we met in New York’s Central Park. Gerry introduced himself to Frances on a park bench while I made a visit to the restroom, and when I returned, we also met his wife Elaine. Gerry is a retired minister (well, not really. True ministers never actually retire, and Gerry certainly hasn’t). He sang a hymn to us before we parted ways, quite beautifully, and we had a wonderful time with him and Elaine. As we parted ways, we shared email addresses, and the last two years have blessed us with many wonderful phone calls (as well as a cherished tape of some of the songs Gerry sings).
As we live our lives, the Lord will bless us with things, places, events, sights and sounds. Most of all, however, He will bless us with Himself, and with people. Or, He may bless us with Himself through people. This is certainly the case with Gerry and Elaine. Indeed, Lexington, Boston and New York offered us many wonderful moments and experiences we remember with much gratitude. But none compare with Gerry and Elaine, who are more, far more, to us than mere memories.
I must add that the last few years have been especially challenging ones for our friends. Gerry and Elaine’s daughter Amy went to be with the Lord last year after a long and courageous struggle with cancer. Throughout her trial, she honored her Savior in an especially blessed way, as did her parents, and I was privileged to witness Gerry and Elaine unwaveringly walk with God despite the great pains of loss they felt (and still feel). As so many of you have been to me over the years, this dear couple served as examples of our Lord’s faithfulness in both blessing and difficulty. “The God of all comfort” revealed Himself in Gerry and Elaine, and I will seek to remember and follow the path they paved so well (II Corinthians 1:3).
As this is written, Gerry and Elaine are preparing to embark on another trip to see friends. I wish I could say the same for us, in hopes that we might again “happen upon” them somewhere along the road. That won’t be the case this time, but I recall Gerry’s parting words that fateful day in Central Park. “If we don’t see each other again here, we will There” he said, looking upward. Amen, my dear brother, and Godspeed to you and Elaine in your present travels. We are grateful for you, and I love sharing the story of a seemingly chance meeting that was actually purposed and directed from eternity past by the Father who so loves to bring His children together.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”