Meet Cora. I visited her last week with my friend Alan who has been accompanying me in meeting the elderly and shut-in’s from our church. Cora is in her ninetieth year and she is full of the joy of the Lord.
Walking into her house some may wonder what there was to be joyful about. The rooms were small (and somewhat poky), the floors were worn and things were in need of a bit of a spruce-up. Much of the furniture was dated, as were the curtains and blinds. And yet here, in this humble little dwelling, I met one of the happiest individuals in the world. “Isn’t He good?” she says to me (referring to her Father in Heaven). “He is good – always good. There is so much for me to be thankful about.”
I asked her about her story – where she grew up, where she met her husband and how she came to know Jesus. Cora grew up in Nelson and was one of 5 children. Her father was a great preacher and evangelist and travelled around the area on a speaking circuit. Cora informed me that many people were saved through his ministry. Her brother Vince took after his dad and became a great pastor and teacher himself. “But he wasn’t quite as good as his father,” Cora said with a smile. I knew Vince when I was pastoring in Auckland. He was hugely respected and scores of people come to Jesus and were discipled under his ministry. This was no ordinary family. The Lord has been at work in them in a special way.
“And when did Jesus become real to you Cora?” I asked her.
“When I was eight years old.” She remembered. “My father preached that Jesus might return any day and if you weren’t ready, you’d be left behind. I remember being terrified. I couldn’t sleep at night. So I talked to my mother about it and we prayed together and I gave my heart to the Lord.”
“And you never looked back since”
“No – never. Isn’t He good?” she said with a another sweet smile.
Cora met her husband during the war years. He was a medic. Just prior to being posted overseas he suffered a bad foot and had to remain home. That’s when they were married. They bought their first house freehold with the money Cora had been saving since she left school. It’s the same house she lives in now. Interesting, I thought to myself, how different things were back then. Simple lives – no debt and no stress. We have a lot to learn from her generation.
“Oh, but He’s so good – don’t you think? Don’t we have so much to be thankful for?” This woman’s faith was amazing. And her joy contagious.
“I don’t have much, as you can see.” I could see. “I worked down at the Salvation Army for many years. There were people who came in there with such great need. I felt compelled to help them.” Then she gave me one of those looks from a child who just did something very naughty and said, “So I gave it all away.”
Cora, you’re a legend and you should be on the font page of every magazine in the country.
I asked Cora how I might be able to pray for her. She gave me a blank look. I think this woman was getting all the divine help she needed.
“Okay,” I said, “what about your family?”
“O yes, you could pray for my children and my grandchildren – and great-grandchildren.” The mother’s heart.
“How many do you have Cora?”
“16 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren” Is that all.
“There are so many of them and I keep forgetting their names.” So would I. She named one individual who was particularly on her heart so I prayed for her. And I prayed that the Lord would continue to use Cora to be a source of joy and encouragement to others.
I kept thinking about Cora the rest of the day. I thought next time I’m counselling someone who is stressed and overwhelmed and feels hard done by, we should go and visit Cora together. They can hear for themselves how good God is and how thankful one can be with very little.
Because when you have Jesus, you have everything you need.