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“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy, dwell on these things.”  Phil. 4:8 CSB

Ten years ago on this day, in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, my friend Denny passed away.  His wife, Claudine was by his side. Denny was a transplant patient. Suffering from Hepatitis C, he needed a liver transplant.  They were on their way home from a doctor’s appointment in Richmond on 9/11/01 when they received a call they had found a match. He received a new liver that day.  Occurring on the same day as the falling of the twin towers, they had mixed emotions about the blessing. The donor was not a victim of the attacks. I met Denny shortly after the surgery.  I had become friends with Claudine in a women’s Bible study, a friendship that remains to this day. When I spoke at Denny’s memorial, I used today’s verse to describe him. Denny was all of those things to me.  He was an amazing guy I had the privilege to know.

I was single when I met Denny and Claudine.  They showed me what I wanted one day in a marriage.  They were best friends who loved Jesus together. Claudine and I would go for long bike rides together, often Denny would call while we were gone.  I never heard them hang up the phone without saying I love you. Denny had a patience with Claudine that was joyful to watch. He understood her in ways she didn’t understand herself.  When he passed, the heartache Claudine felt was hard to witness, their bond so close. But God was their core. He was their rock. Through them, I witnessed what a marriage centered on Jesus looked like up close and personal.  They didn’t put on pretense, they didn’t try to be someone they weren’t, they just tried to love like Jesus, always.

As I watched Denny’s journey, I saw his faith in God.  I watched his dependence on Him. Claudine and I did a Bible study on contentment in their home as Denny lay dying in the next room.  In the midst of their deepest valley, they sought God. I had the privilege of witnessing a faith like I had never seen before. I learned how intimately God is with us in our darkest moments.  I saw the faithfulness of God as He carried them through their days. I learned much about God through their friendship and the love they showed me. But I wouldn’t have met this amazing couple if it wasn’t for a Bible study. If I hadn’t signed up for Fit4Life, and sat beside Claudine, I would have never known the rest of the story. I would never have met Denny, I would never have experienced such a wonderful friendship.

Today, I’m thankful for Bible studies and the people they bring into my life.  What are you thankful for?

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