Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

May 10, 2015


Another Hannah to whom the Lord has been gracious


        There is in the Bible a devout woman named Hannah. Her story is in the Book of First Samuel. She prayed fervently for a son. The Lord answered her prayer.  Hannah and her husband Elkanah named their son Samuel “because I asked the Lord for him.” Hannah dedicated the boy to the Lord and Samuel grew up to serve the Lord.

        There is in this Bible story a beautiful line: “The Lord was gracious to Hannah.” When I read that phrase I think, “That is just like God!” If I have learned anything at all about God in this journey called life it is that God is gracious to those who call upon him for help.

        In my family there is another Hannah to whom the Lord has been gracious. Like the biblical Hannah, my granddaughter Hannah Louise Albritton is a devout believer. As a child, she dedicated her life to the Lord Jesus and asked for guidance that she might serve him.

        During college days, Hannah decided her calling was to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Last Saturday to the delight of her family, Hannah received a Master’s Degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Montevallo. After expressing her gratitude for the help of Jesus, her family and her friends, Hannah said, “God has blessed me well beyond what I deserve. I am ready now to serve the Lord by doing something I love. I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for me!”

        Hannah’s training included serving for several months in a public school and a nursing home. While serving in a health and rehabilitation facility as part of her graduate school externship, Hannah shared these sensitive and inspiring observations:

I have had some great patients here and have enjoyed the experience very much. One is a sweet lady I will call Mrs. J. Now in her eighties she has dementia and has significant word finding and short-term recall deficits. When I ask her where we are, she says, “Oh, I know I know it, but I just can’t think of it right now!” or “I’m just going to be honest with you, I don’t know.”

“She ALWAYS apologizes for not knowing something. If I’m trying to get her to name fruits or vegetables, or if I’m trying to get her to say the word “ice” by describing it and she can’t think of the word, she’ll say, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me today” or “I’m so sorry. I just can’t think of it.” I constantly tell her not to apologize and that it’s ok that she doesn’t know. Sometimes she will even hit her head, chest or hand for not being able to come up with the word.

“It saddens me that she is completely aware of her deficits and cannot understand why she has them. However, instead of being angry or sad all the time, she has a wonderful attitude. She is always smiling, with only her bottom dentures in, and always telling every woman she sees how pretty she is. She tells me that I am so beautiful or pretty several times during each session. To say the least, I love this lady.

“One day we went to see another patient who was in the dining hall with others listening to a man sing. The residents enjoy having this older man come often to sing old gospel/camp meeting hymns. While sitting there, I spotted Mrs. J. She was right up front, sitting to the left of the singer, but facing away from him towards the rest of the residents. She was swaying back and forth to the music, singing every word of the song.

“As I watched her sing “Take me to Jesus,” I realized that, even though she cannot communicate efficiently with other people, she was having no problem worshiping her Jesus. She might not know where she is but she does know she is in the presence of her Lord and Creator. She cannot remember what she had for breakfast, or even that she ate breakfast, but she is able to meet the Lord in worship and go to a place where it does not matter what you know or remember. I sat there with tears in my eyes as I watched this precious lady worship the Lord with a purity and sincerity that I had never witnessed before.

 “I do not know why God allows people to acquire diseases like dementia that steal a person’s memories and ability to reason and even cause mothers to forget their own children. Perhaps the reason is simply that we live in a fallen world. But I find it amazing and comforting that God created us in a way that, even if we are afflicted with a terrible disease like dementia, a few parts of our brain are still able to function, like the portion in the right side of our brain responsible for processing music. This is just one awesome way the Lord draws us near to Him, even in our weakest and most debilitated state.

“It was such a blessing to be able to witness sweet Mrs. J singing the words “take me to Jesus” and to know that soon that will be a reality for her. I realize that instead of being sad or feeling sorry for her, I really should envy her. More than likely, she will meet our Savior sooner than I will and all her pain and sorrow, sadness and tears, and worries and shame will be gone.

“My mind may be functioning normally but perhaps to God my mind is just as impaired as Mrs. J’s when I am not using it to communicate with Him and think on things that please and glorify Him. I should learn from Mrs. J and use my mind, while I still can, to think of ways to further the kingdom of the Lord and share God’s love with others. Even though Mrs. J’s mind is fading, she is continuing to show God’s love to others through her sweet spirit and her song of beckoning to Jesus.”

Congratulations Hannah! The world is a better place because there are people like you in it – people with a servant’s heart who use their skills to serve the Lord by serving others. Your grandmother and I are in your balcony! + + +