Sudie Garner is one of the dearest Christian witnesses Cathy and I have had the pleasure of knowing through the years. We were members together at First Baptist Church in El Dorado during the decades of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and in those years we shared many experiences of service together through the church. Her husband Hubert was a well- known barber in El Dorado for many years, and I was one of his customers for at least 6 years prior to his untimely death.
Sudie and Hubert, like so many couples with strong marriages were quite different in their personalities. Sudie was quiet, introspective, kind and known for her commitment to the Lord Jesus. She was especially fervent as a prayer warrior and intercessor, and all who knew her were confident that any prayer requests given her received serious and faithful attention. Hubert, on the other hand was outgoing, fun-loving and as a barber for many years, had an abundance stories to tell. It was always a fun experience to have Hubert cut my hair every 2 or 3 weeks because I relished his story-telling and would respond with several of my own.
I have previously told how impactful the Bill Gothard seminars were for Cathy and me, and in 1977 on attending our first seminar in Dallas, we gave our hearts and lives to the Lord Jesus. In the following 7 or 8 years we attended other seminars which included not only the basic seminar but advanced seminars as well. We invited family members and various friends to attend with us, and the Garner’s were one couple that arranged to attend a basic seminar with us in the early 1980’s.
I don’t recall any specific events from that week together, but nearing the end of the week Bill was teaching on how men should honor their wives. He pointed out that many of us have forgotten certain acts of courtesy to which we always paid attention during our courtship. One of those acts was simply opening the car door for our spouse, either when she was entering or exiting the car. Bill encouraged the wives to help their husbands display this courtesy by remaining in the car until he remembered. I do remember as we were leaving the conference center that day, Cathy and Sudie said to each other that this lesson might require on their part some prolonged sitting time in the car.
The next haircut I received from Hubert was about 2 weeks later, and we talked about the wonderful teaching we received at the conference. He said he heard principles about life and marriage that he had never before heard presented in such a practical way. I agreed and we both marvelled that Bill Gothard could know so much about marriage having never been married. Hubert said that Sudie was also helping him apply some of the principles we heard with the following account:
“We came home from church on Sunday night and I pulled into our garage, parking the car and entering the house through the garage. I closed the garage door before going inside. I sat down in my easy chair and turned on the television to relax before getting ready for bed. I called out to Sudie to fix me a glass of tea when she could. When I didn’t hear her voice, I went to the bathroom thinking she might be there but she wasn’t. I called out to her in a louder voice and heard nothing. I really began worrying, thinking she had passed out so I looked all over the house going room to room. I thought the only place left was the garage and the thought struck me was she had a heart attack and died in the car. I turned on the garage light and spotted her still in the car and said, “Sudie are you alright?” She said, “Yes Hubert, I am alright.” “Then why don’t you come on in the house? Are you mad at me?” “No, I’m not mad. I’m just waiting for you to open the door!” As I walked over and opened the door I asked her, “How long were you going to wait?” “As long as it took. That’s what Bill Gothard told us to do.”
Hubert said he might be a slow learner, but he thought he had finally learned the lesson about being a gentleman and opening the door for Sudie while showing her in other ways how important she was to him. I’ve always wondered just how long Sudie would have waited—.