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  • Writer's pictureDawn Wallis

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Five years ago, I was going through the most painful time in my life. I had literally lost everything including myself. Desperate to get some direction from God about my “what’s next?” questions, I began doing anything a normal middle-aged woman in a crisis would do; drive around aimlessly looking for a place to call home. With scarcely little in the bank and no job in my foreseeable future, I quickly realized the traditional route to home ownership wasn’t in my favor. That’s when I began scouring foreclosures in the local paper. In case you aren’t aware, houses that are in foreclosure and slated to be auctioned on the courthouse steps are not available for walk-throughs. It’s a buy at your own risk proposition. That idea didn’t sit well me so I may or may not have climbed in through windows of several vacant homes prior to auction day.

Outbid and out of the desire to risk potential arrest for trespassing, my home search soon took a different turn. I started driving up and down streets through random neighborhoods hoping to stumble upon a vacant home. I would research the abandoned looking homes on the county tax record, cross-reference the owner’s name with obituaries and hope that I could convince them sell the estate to me before it would hit the real estate market. As I’m typing this out, I’m realizing my actions may come off as shady. Honestly, that wasn’t what was in my heart. I just wanted to find a place where I could be alone with God and continue the arduous process of healing that had just started to occur in my soul.

It was on a sunny spring afternoon that I went to scout out a home that appeared vacant. As I peeked through the screens that had been shredded by an animal of some kind, I noticed the flooring was gone and all I could see was the subfloor, which was missing in a few spots. I walked to the side of the house to survey the wood siding; I really didn’t know what I was doing but tried to convince myself otherwise. The wood had been warped by the sun and would no doubt need to be replaced. The deep freezer positioned on the front porch emanated a smell that told me I shouldn’t look inside. As I took a few steps from the front of the house, trying to imagine myself as Joanna Gaines, I heard a voice call out.

A man in his mid-70s was heading in my direction. He was tall but not imposing. Mild-mannered. Kind. To be honest, I took him to be the neighborhood busybody trying to figure out what I was doing poking around the dilapidated house. He introduced himself as David and told me that he and his wife lived in one of the townhouses on the same road. After introducing myself and sharing my intentions, he mentioned that the townhouse next to his was about to be listed as for sale by owner. When he asked if I would be interested in looking inside, I was taken off guard. My face must have looked surprised since he went on to explain that the owners lived out of state and he looked after it while they were gone.

Perhaps it was his gentle eyes or the tenderness reflected in his voice, but I followed him while he went to his house and got the key. He unlocked the townhome and walked directly to the back wall and opened the blinds on the large picture windows. This townhouse was on the water. And it had a completely unobstructed view. He pattered around the kitchen and then led me up the stairs, all the time filling me in on the details of the home and its owners. Perhaps, he sensed I was like a flightless bird, beaten and broken from the tempests of life. Either way, his voice was calm and steady and I felt safe.

As we walked outside, he told me he’d talk to the owners and find out additional details on their time frame for selling. I expressed my gratitude and we parted ways. For the next three weeks, I’d drive past the house to look at the lake and pray. And every time I’d show up, David would come out on his back porch, say, “Hello, Dawn. Did you want to take a look inside again?” He was always so patient and never seemed put out every time I’d knock on his door and ask to take another peek. He must have opened that house for me to parade my family and friends through at least five or six times. Eventually, that was the home I bought because of David’s generosity and kindness.

For the next few years, David and his wife Marilyn became my angels. They prayed me through the darkest times in life. Each time I’d knock on their front door, David would answer and tell Marilyn I was there for counseling and crying. And sometimes, bless his heart, he’d open the door later in the evening just to let me know Marilyn was asleep but he’d assure me that in the morning he’d let her know I stopped by.

I got to experience the tender side of David as he’d take care of Marilyn, mow neighbor’s lawns, paint decks, and volunteer to cook meals for the kids at his church Bible camp. Every Saturday morning he’d head to the farmer’s market at the break of dawn to reserve a table for Marilyn to sell her wreaths and other crafts. Then he’d return home, pick up Marilyn and help her set up the display. He even made a few of the crafts himself when Marilyn’s hands were too weak. His selfless love for her set the bar very high for any man who would come into my life.

Early this morning I received a text letting me know that David went home to be with Jesus. I’m so thankful I had a chance to speak with him over the phone a few days ago. I told him that God used him to change the trajectory of my life. Without his openness and hospitality, I would’ve never known about the townhouse that eventually became my home. I would not have had a mentor (Marilyn) to walk me through my healing and recovery process. And I would not have met my husband who lived down the road in the same neighborhood. While my heart is filled with sorrow for Marilyn and their family, I cannot help but smile knowing that today David was welcomed into the arms of Jesus. That his last breath here was his first breath in eternity. That while I’ll never feel one of David’s hugs again here on earth, Jesus did this morning.

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