Meet June. I had the pleasure of visiting her last week in a retirement village. My friend Alan, who heads up Pastoral Care in our church thought I needed to meet her. It didn’t take long to figure out why.
Her face lit up as soon as I walked in the room. “Peter,” she says, “how lovely of you to come! Here, sit down on my bed so we can talk.”
I asked about her health and well-being. June is struggling with a few health problems – mainly her legs. They are filled with fluid and ache constantly. But you wouldn’t know it. Not with the smile that never leaves her face.
“You’ve just had a birthday haven’t you dear?” says Alan.
“Yes,” June replies, “I’m now 68!”
“You mean 86” says Alan.
“Oh yes – that’s what I mean” says June, with a twinkle in her eye.
“So how did you become a Christian June?” I always ask this question. It’s important I know where people stand with Jesus. I may have to take their funeral one day. June shared how she had come to faith in Jesus when she was only 5 years old. But it was at a Girl’s Camp in her teens when the issue was pressed as to whether she belonged to Jesus or not.
“I knew I was at a crossroads,” she said. “It was follow Jesus or go the way of the world. I made my choice right there and then. It was going to be Jesus. And I’ve never looked back.”
She certainly hasn’t.
Her bookshelf was filled with photo frames of all shapes and sizes. “So here is your family,” I said. “Tell me about them.” She shared about her late husband who passed away eight years ago. They had a wonderful life together. Then she pointed to her children and grandchildren and told me all about where they live and what they are doing. Grandmothers are always so proud of their grandchildren.
“Now tell me – how is Mark doing?” asks June.
“Mark – my eldest son, how do you know about him?” I replied. June just smiles and picks up a little red book.
“He’s in here,” she says, with another twinkle in her eye.
This was the most precious moment of my visit. Her quivering hands opened up a book. Inside were names – pages and pages of names, with handwritten notes next to each one of them.
“I’ve been praying for Mark,” she says. “And what’s the name of the other one?”
“Luke,” I replied.
“Ah yes,” she said. “And that one too. They’re both in America aren’t they?”
All I could do was nod. I was truly moved.
“Do you know what time June get’s up in the morning?” asks Alan. I shook my head. “Tell him June.”
“Well I like to get up early and pray while there’s peace and quiet and I won’t get disturbed. And I can keep my door shut. Jesus says when you pray to your Father you go to your room and shut the door and talk to him in private. So that’s what I do. 5 o’clock is a good time to start.”
She’s talking about the morning – not the afternoon. While the rest of the world is snoozing June is praying. She’s praying for her family. She’s praying for the church and she’s praying for missionaries all over the world. She’s even praying for my two sons.
Just then June’s daughter walked in. “This is Peter,” she says, “He’s my new Pastor.”
And you’re my new hero, I thought to myself.
It was time we got going. Family comes first. We said our goodbyes and strolled out into the car park. Alan was talking to me about something, but I wasn’t listening. I couldn’t stop thinking of June and her little red book. How many prayers had ascended to heaven because of this faithful little lady? And how many lives have been transformed as a result?
I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to 86. But if I do, I want to be like June. I want my own little red book. And I want to be up early every morning bringing the world to my Father’s feet.
While others are snoozing, I want to be praying.