We are nose-to-nose, well inside the normal space humans give one another when conversing, for both auditory and visual reasons.  Her sweet watery eyes are focused intently on mine as I look up while reading. I feel like she’s perusing the fine print in my soul through my pupils. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” One misshaped arthritic hand cups an ear as she strains to hear my loud recitation of Scripture. Her amorphous 97-year-old body resides in a wheel chair, draped in a knit shawl and lap blanket, and her grey head is bent low over the card table adjacent to her bed in the small living room that is her 24/7 venue. “If anyone serves me he must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”

I sit in a folding chair at the table corner nearest her, my knees touching her wheelchair and my feet warmed by her friendly long-haired cat. To the right-front of her on the card table are stacked her Bible and devotional books and two magnifying glasses with a diameter of fifty-cent pieces, taped together to double the magnification, with which she reads her books. I ask if I can try them, and she acquiesces. By putting my eye within an inch of the magnifiers, themselves an inch above a book page, I can indeed read…one word at time. And that is the way she reads entire books. Each visit she sends me off with another book she has finished. I agree to read it myself and add it to the church library when done. You see, her mind is undiminished by the aging process. Though her outer self is wasting away, her inner self is being renewed day-by-day (2 Cor. 4:16). A widow of a longtime church elder, her story-telling of a life well-lived for the glory of God is lucid and enlightening, and her witness to her faith in our Lord and Savior is heart-melting.

When it is time to go, we pray.  I put my hand on top of hers on the table, and she stacks her other hand, permanently fist-shaped, on top of mine. This time we both pray aloud the Lord’s Prayer. “…for thine is the kingdom and the power and glory forever, Amen.” I arise, bend over and hug her, kiss her forehead and walk the few steps to the door as she profusely thanks me for coming.  I close the door behind me and pray, through tears, O Lord, what a blessing to spend these moments with your saint on the threshold of glory.  I ponder what a joy it will be to see her perfected body and wonderful spirit in heaven as I drive to my next appointment, a comely smiling saint with Alzheimer’s.

Somewhere in this fallen world there are a few old fighter pilots still living who may read this and exclaim incredulously, “What? Wetterling? Minister to shut-ins? No way!” To them I say, I am living proof there is hope for you, too, brothers. Our God works in mysterious and glorious ways, to my great joy.


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