One of my only remaining great-aunts lives in a skilled nursing facility nearby. Her late husband was a minister and Aunt Eloise shared his calling devotedly. I have met few women who express such confidence and boldness in prayer. I have seen her pray for others in stores and the beauty shop as well as at the church altar. In fact, in my youth I was a bit in awe of her lest she” lay hands” on me at a time when my relationship with God was somewhat shaky. I really didn’t want her to pray for me at close range. She meant business. Patients frequently call upon her in her present circumstance so much she has become something of an unofficial resident chaplain. When my mother and aunt visited recently, she told them this story. It seems that one of the aides woke her in the middle of the night a few weeks back. The aide said one of the gentlemen in residence was close to the end of his life and had requested that she come and pray with him. She made her way to his room and after a time of prayer, he felt at peace with one minor exception. He wanted to be baptized. Although she was of the “immersion” school of baptism, she and the patient agreed baptism by “sprinkling” was called for. Then she realized the aide was busy with other patients’ needs, and she had no appropriate water container. Being a resourceful minister’s wife, she made her way back to her own room and sanitized an empty denture cup. Aunt Eloise then baptized him as best she could and in the following days, he slipped into eternity at peace with his maker.

Later, we laughed about the denture cup, but as my mother and I discussed her ministry, I felt so humbled. Here is a woman with physical limitations who could very well fold her arms and say, “Okay, God I’ve done my part. I’m weary, I don’t feel well. I need a break.” Yet she has led many souls to Jesus and prayed for the comfort of patients, family members and staff at all times of the day and night. Her testimony is one of such power that even those clouded with dementia and disability recognize the Holy Spirit within her. Her only daughter lives at some distance and asked Aunt Eloise if she could move her to a nearer facility. Her response was,” Let me stay; God isn’t finished with me here. “How often have I made my excuses concerning one area of service or another thinking there are younger servants who can fill the need? Yet here is Aunt Eloise still fervent, undiminished in her calling. I think it is more than her desire to help that propels her. She sees the final opportunity for so many who will never darken the door of another church or make acquaintance of local pastors. Instead of whining, “Why me?”, her response is like that of the Old Testament Samuel: “Here am I, You called me”( I Sam. 3:8 NIV).

Oh God, make me aware of the opportunities you give me to minister. Don’t let me become weary or embittered by service, but renew my fervor with your presence.Help me to recognize that you order my steps and that my walk isn’t finished until you say so.

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