She sat across the table from me every week throughout our study on the Book of James. I spied on her, sneaking glances over the top of my workbook as she tilted her head and flipped through the Scriptures with carefree ease. It was as if she could find Ezra as easily as Genesis. I noticied that she had one of those fancy new Bibles with QR-codes on the pages.
Plus, she’s got great hair. And a gorgeous smile. And I’m tempted to be a little jealous.
The Good Book says somewhere that Moses came down from the mountain with a shiny face, because he had been in the presence of God. Call me crazy, but I get the feeling that sort of thing still happens in 2012. If you took one look at this woman, you’d believe it, too. You can’t buy that at the Clinique counter.
She wears her love for Scripture on her face, and let me tell you: she lights up an Iowa country church’s fellowship-hall when she starts talking about the Lord.
I rested my chin on my hands and thought to myself: I want me some of that.
Someone read a passage from 1 Peter, and then, she put her hands flat down on her Bible, and gasped out loud, as if this was the first time she’d ever read such a beautiful thing in all her ever-lovin’ life.
Even though — and I’m not exaggerating here — it’s probably the 651st time she had read it.
“You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve read the Bible straight through,” she told me once. And I swear to you she’s not bragging on herself. She’s boasting on the Holy Spirit.
And besides, she’s been at this Bible-reading thing awhile.
Did I mention that this beauty queen is 91 years old?
(She’s got that high-tech Bible because she’s worn out so many of her other Bibles.)
But her countenance changed when we began discussing a certain passage that tells us that without deeds, our faith is dead. Flatlined. Lifeless. Pushing up daisies.
The sparkle in Almarie’s eyes faded. The corners of her mouth drooped a bit. What deeds could a 91-year-old lady in an assisted-living complex do? We could tell she felt a bit frustrated, so we reached across the table with our words, assuring that she’d fought the good fight and run the race for years.
But then, a few minutes later, Almarie told us about what happens at 3:30 a.m. Every. Single. Night.
The sparkle returned to her eyes as she spoke:
“The Lord wakes me up. Every night, He wakes me up. When I go to bed at night, I am so happy because I know He’s going to wake me up at 3:30.”
When God rings, Almarie answers. She gets out of bed, picks up her Bible, walks to her easy-chair and starts reading where she left off the night before. She reads, and she prays. For a whole hour.
“The Lord brings people’s names to mind as I’m reading,” she said. “I know when I’m done, after about an hour, because I feel such a peace come over me.” She shook her head, like she didn’t quite know how else to describe such a holy encounter.
“And then I go right back to bed, and I don’t wake up ’til morning.”
I sat there, gape-mouthed, at the glorious wonder of Almarie The Night Watchwoman. I flipped through Psalms to find a verse that so aptly fits this woman, whose deeds come in the form of obedience and prayer, uttered under darkest of skies.
I inked Almarie’s name beside this verse in my Bible:
“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”
— Psalm 119:148
(Thank you, Almarie, for letting me tell your story!)