In the margin of my Bible, near the passage of 1 Peter 3:1-4, I have the words, “Bonnie Carlile” written. Bonnie was one of the finest Christian ladies I ever met. The very first thing Bonnie ever told me when I became her preacher was, “You’ve got to help get my husband Dale to become a Christian.” Bonnie and Dale had been married for 57 years. They raised 4 children who now all had children of their own.
Bonnie never missed church. She raised her children in the church, but Dale just wasn’t interested. No one was quite sure why, although Bonnie believe someone had hurt his feelings years and years ago and he just quit coming.
Bonnie would come by my office once a week or so and say, “Can we have a prayer for Dale together today?” I was always more than willing. Bonnie once told me that there had never been a day pass in her life that she hadn’t prayed that Dale would give his life to Christ. I told her to just keep praying. I can still hear her say to me, “I can’t stand thinking about enjoying heaven with out my Dale.”
Dale and I got to be great friends. Dale was a good man who loved to talk of the Dallas Cowboys and the local happenings, but he never really wanted to talk about God, Jesus or church. I do remember when she called me, so excited, saying, “Dale wanted to know what you preached about this morning and what we studied about in Bible class.” Dale was beginning to ask questions.
Not long after that Bonnie began to get sick. She began to struggle mentally. Alzheimer’s set in quickly and the family soon had to make the decision to send Bonnie to a nursing home. Her body was still so strong, but her mind just quit working. Bonnie never got to see her Dale become a Christian, but thankfully that’s not the end of the story.
One Sunday morning I looked up while preaching and there sat Dale on a back pew. He scooted and before anyone really took notice of him. It wasn’t long after that, that Dale started to come a little more often. He began to attend devotionals and worship with Bonnie at the nursing home where she was staying. Although, mentally Bonnie didn’t realize it, Dale was seeking.
On October 20, 2001, I was blessed to witness Dale Carlile confess his faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized. He began that day a new relationship with God. And while I think God had much to do with softening his heart, so did his sweet wife Bonnie, who never ever gave up on him. Bonnie is an example of 1 Peter 3:1-4
I did Dale’s funeral in June of 2005. He got to heaven first. Bonnie passed away 7 months after Dale from her battles with her Alzheimer’s. Because of her sickness, those last few years of Bonnie’s life, she didn’t know that Dale given his life to Christ. Oh how I would have loved to have seen her face that day she saw heaven. Can you imagine when she looked up at the glories of heaven and there among them was her Dale? The same Dale she’d prayed for every day. The same Dale that she told me, “I just can’t imagine enjoying heaven without my Dale.” I think she probably shed a tear of joy and maybe, just maybe, danced a little. Now those two old love birds will spend an eternity together, because the faith, perseverance and example of a faithful wife.