A sweet dear friend of ours has given me permission to share this story. While we lived in Pasadena, we attended a wonderful church where a precious man, named, Dave, played the piano for our Sunday School class and his wife, Donna always greeted folks as they came in the door with the most beautiful smile. This precious couple became very special to Randy and I and several times, we were blessed to be in their home. Besides Dave being a fantastic piano player, he made the most awesome pies. His specialty was lemon meringue. Dave had some medical problems which put him into a care facility towards the end of his life. On one of our visits back, we stopped and bought a lemon meringue and went to the nursing facility and had pie with Dave, never dreaming that that would be the last time we would see him. He passed away a few days later, after we had gone back to Texas. We were so grateful that we had had several times of visiting with he and Donna in their beautiful home and at different restaurants, which we always came away feeling so blessed, as Dave was one of those men who, no matter how down he might have been, due to medical problems, he always seemed to have that “sunshine in his soul” which radiated out to others. About a year before he passed away, he gave a sweet testimony of how he felt the Lord had spoken to him and share it in class. This is Dave’s story, told through one of our class teachers, Les Stocker, at the funeral.
“It was a bright Saturday morning in late June 2012. The phone rang. It was Dave. “Les, I have a very personal story the fits perfectly with the series you are teaching right now in the Disciples Class. But it’s a bit complex to share over the phone. Can I come over?”
Thirty minutes later, Dave was sitting in our family room as he proceeded to tell me his pine cone story that was not only amazing, but transformative in Dave’s life.
Some years earlier, Dave was counseling with a pastor who was very close to Dave at the time when he was going through a period of discouragement and depression. As they talked, the pastor, who was an avid hiker in the local mountains, mentioned how he often picked up pine cones along his hikes. He reached for a basket of pine cones near his desk and picked one out.
He then told Dave, “I would like to give you this pine cone.” He did not extent it across the desk as one might expect, but simply held it near him. Dave felt an awkward moment. He was offered the pinecone, but by the Pastor’s actions, it appeared to not be offered.
A few minutes later the pastor said, “Dave, if you want the pine cone, you must reach out for it and take it. It is yours, but you must reach out-just like the peace which passes all understanding that God offers us. He grants us many gifts, but we must reach out to receive them. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount said to “knock and it will be opened, seek and you will find, ask and you will receive.” We have to actively reach for those gifts.
That spoke to Dave that day. If Dave wanted the “peace that passes all understanding” he must reach out to receive it. A point of action. And so encouraged, Dave realized that he needed to reorient his thinking and receive this peace that God so freely gives to us.
Sometime later, Dave was again feeling a sense of discouragement as his medical problems began to escalate. He was out on some errands and stopped at the bank. He went in to conduct his business and on the way back to his car, he noticed a pine cone sitting upright, as though someone had placed it right on the curb, right in front of Dave’s car. In fact, it was so perfectly centered that if there had been a hood ornament, it would have been right above the pine cone.
Dave looked around. There was no one in sight. He then looked at the trees and other landscaping. No pine trees in sight. He immediately remembered the talk with his pastor, those years ago. The pine cone was such a dramatic reminder to him.
Dave wondered, “was this a miracle or just so bloke walking by and decided to place a pine cone at this perfect spot? We don’t know, but we do know that God spoke to him so graphically, reminding him that if we want His gifts, including the peace that passes all understanding, we have to do our part. We must reach out and receive it.”
Both Randy and I were so blessed to have been in class that July 1st, 2012 when Dave shared his story with the class. Now 5 years later, there is another story of God’s provision and care that comes from Donna, Dave’s wife.
One night about 2 months ago, about 9:30 at night, Donna texted me and ask me if I was close to my computer. After I said that I was, she gave me an address and told me to look it up and see what I thought. So I did. It was the real estate listing of a house that she had looked at that day in Pasadena. I called Donna and she shared with me some of the details. She had always thought that the house where she and Dave had lived all those many years would be her home forever. Until now. She had gone with a realtor friend to look at this house and Donna became excited about the possibility of moving to a smaller house. She ask me to pray along with her and a couple of other friends about what God might want her to do. She was excited about the possibility of beginning a new season in a new place, but also sad, thinking about leaving the home which she and Dave had shared for 30+ years. She told me that if the Lord wanted her to have that house, He was going to have to move very fast and sell hers because she didn’t even have her house listed. This was on Wednesday night, I believe. That weekend a pastor who was moving from Washington to California was in town to look for houses. Her realtor called her to ask if she could show him the house, Donna agreed and in turn as soon as she knew that the preacher wanted her house, she put in a contract on the darling cottage that she had fallen in love with. She was so disappointed to find out that the owner of her ‘dream” cottage had accepted another offer. Donna’s response, “God must have something else for me, so I will just trust Him for His direction and His provision. A couple of days later, her realtor called again. The owner of the cottage had called and spoke with Donna’s realtor. She had ask if she thought Donna was still interested in the cottage, as there had been some problems with the other contract, so if Donna still wanted the house it was hers. AND…the price had now been lowered. The Lord knew exactly what He wanted Donna to have to pay for the house, and had also provided a pastor to buy her house, a house which had been filled with many nights of prayer and Bible reading, was now being sold to a pastor who would, in turn, keep the prayers and Bible reading going.
We all know that all of our days don’t always turn out exactly like we want, and sometimes our dreams don’t all come true. But God is always faithful to provide and care for us in ways which we, in turn need to always tell of “His wondrous acts to perform.”
His word tells us to share with others the marvelous ways in which we see His goodness and grace. Yes, we have trials and tribulations. Those are our chances to grow our faith and to look for Him in ways which we might not have thought. God’s love is true, His ways are perfect and His will will always be for our best and for His glory, it is up to us to follow His will…to reach out for His promises and receive them. God was there for Dave and is still there, working and caring for Donna. Who knows, I wonder if she might find a pine cone in her new yard one day?
Donna, thank you for allowing me the blessing of sharing how God worked in Dave’s life and is still working in yours. May your story, in turn, bless others and remind us all that God cares for each one of us, it is up to us to “trust and obey, for there’s no other way, but be happy in Jesus and to trust and obey.”