TITLE: The Bottle Lady
By Pamela Calhoun
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For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
“Why do you suppose the Good Lord is leaving me here?” It was always the first question she asked me every time I saw her. She had a strong southern accent, and a voice much larger than the frail 89 year old skeleton that embodied it.
I always answered with; “Well, He must still have something He wants you to do for Him,” to which she would always reply; “What in the world can an old lady like me do?”
Her comment amused me because, I knew exactly what she could do, she could pray!
I picked her up at 5 am three mornings a week, and we went for an hour of prayer at our church. Her next question was usually; “How are you today, my dear?” No matter what my response, her reaction was always the same; she prayed.
While I drove, she would ask the Good Lord to bless me with something. If I said I was tired, she asked for energy and alertness for my studies. If I was nervous about a test, she asked for a sharp mind and the ability to remember. If I said I felt like I was coming down with a cold, she prayed for health. If I said I was doing great, she praised the Lord that He had blessed me with good health and a happy heart.
She was really something! I looked forward to her prayers for me.
One day I asked her how long she had been a Christian. “The Good Lord saved my wretched soul when I was just 24 years old” she said. “I was married and it wasn’t long before he’d had enough of my ‘religious ways’ and took off on us. Left me with three little ones to raise. I was so busy, had no time to pray, and when I did find time I was always interrupted by something or other. One day I asked the Lord; ‘help me find a way to be alone with You.’ That very night He woke me up at 3 am and I was able to pray until it was time to start the day, with no interruptions. Well every morning since then, the Lord wakes me up at 3 am to be with Him in the early hours of the day. Even after my kids were all raised and gone. He still wakes me up every morning, can you believe it?”
No wonder her prayers sound so intimate, I thought.
One Sunday morning, it was unexpectedly announced that the Pastor would not be coming back. We later found out he had fled with a large sum of money and the church secretary, leaving his family devastated and the church in debt. Everyone was in shock and some left for other churches. Many visiting Pastors and teachers filled the pulpit while the Board looked for another Pastor. Months later, just as my studies were ending, my last Sunday at the church before moving back home, the new Pastor stood before the congregation and challenged them to dig deep to pay back the debt. He said he would not allow the name of the church to be smeared in the community, every cent would be paid back.
Two years later…
I was back for a visit and excited to see my school, church, and friends. The first person I saw was my old roommate and as we visited she asked; “Did you know that your friend, the Bottle Lady died?” I couldn’t imagine who she was talking about.
She then told me the story of how this dear little prayer warrior had spent the remainder of her days.
Every day she walked to the Safeway store and got a shopping cart, she would take it across the street to the City Park and dig through the trash for pop cans and beer bottles, which are worth five cents each in our state. She took them back to the Safeway store, got all those nickels she had worked all day for, and went to the church office. Placing them on the secretary’s desk she would say; “this is to pay the church debt.”
She became known by everyone in the area as “The Bottle Lady.” I had to smile as I remembered her asking me; “What in the world
can an old lady like me do?”
At the prayer meetings we had attended together, as each person arrived, we would sit and visit until it was time to start and then Steve, the leader, would clear his throat and say; “Shall we go before the Lord in prayer?” At that time we would stop talking and everyone would bow their head, waiting for him to lead off in prayer.
Well, one glad morning, when The Bottle Lady bowed her head to go before the Lord… that’s just what she did! In one swift instant she left this world and went to be with her Jesus.
God tells us that in Heaven there is no time. In one book I read, the author said he thought we would be able to “visit” events that have happened and view them as they unfold. If that’s true, one of the very first moments I want to visit is the one where my friend, “The Bottle Lady” opens her eyes and realizes where she is!
“His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’” Matthew 25:21
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