From the first day my Anna stepped in to my ladies' prayer group, bowed her head and prayed, I knew she was different. Real. No fluffy words to impress, simply one friend talking with another. One day, she was in need of a refrigerator. She prayed humbly, but with expectancy. She knew the Lord would hear and answer. And He did, only a few days later.
Over the seven years we actively prayed together, my Anna taught me to seek the Lord in all things; to never fail to thank Him in all things, and to embrace Him as my number one husband. In prayer, she would often quote portions of Isaiah 54:4-5: Fear not . . . the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth.
Women flowed in and out of my weekly prayer group, but my faithful Anna stuck with me until God moved my family to another church. So precious was our weekly time together, that I didn't want to lose it. So on occasion I would stop by her house and tap on her door. A big smile would emerge on that wrinkly face when she opened the door and saw me standing on her stoop. She'd urge me inside to exchange updates, then we'd pray together, just like old times.
The years passed, and my Anna grew more frail. One day as I pulled up to her house, I noticed a "For Sale" sign in the yard. My heart dropped to my stomach. Was she dead? I'd been dreading this moment for a long time. I walked across the street to her neighbor who often looked in on my Anna and shopped for her. She told me she was now in a nursing home and gave me the name. Saddened, but with a sigh of relief to know where she was, I thanked the neighbor.
Determined to keep our relationship alive, I visited my Anna, noticeably more feeble than when I'd seen her last. She didn't remember me but enjoyed hearing the stories that resulted from our prayer times together. Like the time a young man gave his life to the Lord during an Easter service. The time when our oldest daughter committed her life to full-time missions in India. The time when another young man in the grip of drugs and alcohol finally surrendered to Jesus.
With great praise and pleasure, to this day, I realize God is still working in answer to our prayers . . . for a church in demise for so many years, now resurrected and on a new path of growth. For a husband who struggled with pornography but who I now know was actually the strongest during our seven active praying years.
I still visit my Anna, and we still rejoice together over answered prayer. Through a teary, toothless smile she says, "I still love Jesus."
"I know," I tell her, stooping to plant a soft kiss on that ever wrinkling cheek.
She pats my hand. "Now you come back and visit now, ya hear!"
And I do, thankful that though she doesn't remember who I am, in her frailty, in both our frailties, we share a heartbeat that distance and eventually death can't stop, for our love for Jesus binds us for all eternity.