I found out on yesterday that a dear friend, George Wolfe passed away of complications from a fall. The news rocked my world. I've known George for over 20 years.
My first memory of George was from college, the summer I lived in a rented 3 story house with 14-16 college and single guys (not recommended, BTW). He and I were watching TV and he turned to me and out of the blue he said "Brother, I have to confess that I have an attitude with you now. I'm sorry, I don't know why, I have no reason, but I just do. I had to tell you to get it off of my chest, please forgive me." I had only become a Christian a few months before and I didn't quite know what to make of his surprising openness. I think I said something like "It's OK." or something equally profound. But that was George, a man with a heart bigger than his small frame could possibly hold.
Though I knew him well enough, we were never what folks might call close friends. He was just always around. I would see him regularly at various singles or campus events and at church services for 4-5 years until Maria and I were married and we moved to Detroit for my job.
That was over 19 years, 2 states and 5 residences and ago, yet George kept up with us and he'd send us 1-2 letters a year, hand written, 2-3 pages each. Peppered with scriptures and dripping with encouragement, it was always a highlight when a letter from George arrived. Along with news of his life, he'd remind me of how great our God was and exhort me to remember his blessings and not neglect my faith. He'd encourage me to be mindful of my duties as a husband and father to lead my family and raise my girls in the Lord, while at the same time praising me for how I was doing with them.
I was not nearly as good of a pen pal, but I did manage to write back a couple of times, telling him how encouraging it was to receive his letters. Encouragement was clearly his gift and I told him so. He wrote back right away, you'd think I had wrote him a check for a million dollars he was so thrilled that his letters were making such an impact.
If anyone in this world had the gift of encouragement, it was George. He was the kind of guy that was easy to overlook, but if you stopped and paid attention to him, you were the one blessed.
The world will be a decidedly dimmer place without George in it. Lord, give him a big hug for me, please, and George, save me a place at the table.