Last week, our dear Joey Summers went home to be with the LORD after 104 years of life. She will be missed by many who treasured her warm smile, passionate worship, consistent presence, and welcoming heart. However, at 104, there may be more people in Heaven waiting to welcome her home than people left behind to mourn. The amazing thing is, Grandma Joey would not return to us even if we could promise her another 100 years of life. She is experiencing unimaginable joy right now and forevermore in the presence of God himself. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
To Die is Gain
When we pause to think, there is very little regret in the passing of a 104-year-old saint. Yes, we mourn, but we understand that life this side of eternity must end, and if we compare Grandma Joey’s life to the words of Psalm 90 which we discussed a few weeks ago, she blew the roof off our expectations about life by over 30 years. It is far better for her to be with Christ than to remain with us (Philippians 1:23).
As I think of the life of Grandma Joey, I see one thing that I think we will miss and not realize. While her going Home is all gain for her, for us who remain, we will miss her prayers.
Fallen Soldiers Must be Replaced
The ancient Romans had a formation in battle called the testudo, from the word for tortoise. It was a wall of shields that enveloped the soldiers from the front, sides, and above. When a man fell from that formation, another quickly stepped forward to take his place. The success of the formation depended on all members in those critical positions being in the right place to protect the unit as a whole. When a faithful saint goes to Glory, we must replace her role in the formation. We cannot afford to lose the power of her prayers.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
– James 5:16
Grandma Joey was a prayer warrior. To her last days, she was praying fervently for our Church, the needs of her brothers and sisters in Christ, and for a lost world. Just a few weeks ago, we got to hear her voice in one of our prayer meetings. For decades, she has prayed faithfully and God has answered her time and time again. At one point, my Mom asked Grandma Joey to transfer her prayers for Sandy Norris’ height to me. That is not a joke though it seems God deemed it his divine will to say “no” to that particular prayer. Many of us may be the recipient of an answered prayer of Joey Summers and be completely unaware. The verse quoted above, James 5:16 should give us all pause to think about the great loss we have suffered in losing a faithful sister in Christ to appeal for us before God the Father.
The challenge to us who remain is: who will rise to replace the power of Grandma Joey’s prayers? Who will petition the throne of Grace for the next 100 years on behalf of the men, women, and children of Bethel Bible Chapel? Who will rise and be a faithful presence at our prayer meetings in their 105th year of life? Who will pray day-in and day-out for our leaders, our church, and for our city? I’m not sure if any one of us is up to that task, but we all must do our part to fill in the gap that is left in the battle of prayer for our church family. Grandma Joey is still singing today, she is still worshipping, and she is still smiling. But she is not praying for us anymore. She is consumed with the unfiltered presence of Christ. We must take up her mantle and pray in her absence until we too are released from that duty to worship for eternity.
Share Your Prayer Story
If you have a story of Grandma Joey’s prayers, please write it in the comments below. It would be a blessing to hear from our Church family.