The mature saint is just like a little child; absolutely simple and joyful and gay. Go on living the life that God would have you live and you will grow younger instead of older.  There is a marvelous rejuvenescence when once you let God have His way.

In the case of people with an impaired memory, as it is termed, some say it would be better to remove them, to put them to sleep if that were legal. Why do they say this? Because they estimate wrongly; they estimate according to the perfections of the machine. God looks at what we cannot see; the heart.  God does not look at the brain, at what man looks at, neither does He sum men up the way we do.

From The Quotable Oswald Chambers

Many would agree with George Dennison Prentice that “some old women and men grow bitter with age.  The more their teeth drop  out the more biting they get.” Thankfully, my 85 year old Äiti (mom in Finnish) is growing sweeter and more joyful instead.
While Äiti’s memory and ability to think logically is notably declining, her spirit is growing more resilient and her character defined more and more by the fruit of the Spirit; she is growing more loving, more joyful, more patient, more kind, more gentle with age.
Gone is her inclination to cast blame and grow sullen.  Gone is her habit of stubbornly holding on to her “rights” and getting angry. Even her impatience is declining!  Losing one’s memory must be worrisome but she is not afraid. She considers the “joy of the Lord” her strength and chooses to give simply thanks in everything.
She has difficulty retrieving words at times but not the truth about an issue.  She loves what is good and true. While she struggles to hold on to new information, deep in her memory stores are long, powerful prayers that she has recited day after day, week after week, year after year on behalf of herself and her family. Driving her to the store this week, I asked her to recite one of her daily prayers to me.  (I must admit I wanted to see if she could recite one from memory still) A remarkable peace enveloped me as I listened to line upon line of prayers flowing out of her with no hesitation whatsoever. I listened as she she sought a hedge of protection around herself, her children, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She asked God to dispatch angels to surround all of us and the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us each so that we would discern between the truth and deception.  She rebuked all division, disunity, anger, condemnation, jealousy, grumbling, complaining.  She claimed the promise that no weapon formed against her or our family would prosper.  On and on flowed words of conviction and power.

I pondered the incredible blessings that have resulted from years of her private prayers for me and my family.

My New Year’s Resolution – to pray more this year – suddenly became more compelling. I want to be like Äiti, on my knees, humbling seeking God,  ridding my own heart of false thinking, and daily offering up intercessory prayers on behalf of my family and others. Remembering her stubborn, impatient, and irritable (at times) ways from earlier years, I want to know how she had become so pure in heart,so joyful, at an age when many of her peers are cranky and sullen instead.
I asked Äiti to tell me how she prayed each morning, realizing that this habit is key in her transformation. She pulled out an old journal, pointing to a page she had written years and years ago in her native Finnish language, titled “Koinka Rukoilla” (How to Pray).  I asked her to hand write me a copy and have translated for you below.
I want powerful habits of prayer deeply ingrained in me so that someday should my memory fade and my mind grow confused, spiritual clarity will remain in my heart where the enemy cannot snatch it away.   I am learning through Äiti  that what our mind produces can be lost but what is sown by the Holy Spirit deep within our hearts will abide forever.  In the end, only what’s done for Christ will last!
I am desiring a single minded focus this year on what truly matters.  How different would life here on earth be if heaven were our daily aim!

“How To Pray” by Äiti

Go to the Lord in humility and bow before Him on your knees.

Be alone with God.

Be mindful that He alone is God; He will accomplish all His work.

Surrender.  Wait.

The Holy Spirit is your helper given to you by God Himself.

Learn from Him.

Be still.  Listen.

He will hear you and help you, unless you harbor wrong thoughts about others or allow bitterness to remain in your heart.

Listen to others.  But be alone with God.

That will be best for you.

Listen. Learn.

Do all of your battling on your knees!!

I picture her now; humbly on her knees, repenting of wrong thoughts, ridding her own heart of bitterness, waiting, listening, learning, battling for her family. Oh how blessed I am to have a mother like Äiti who is devoted to the greatest work possible here on earth.  I come back from this trip a better person for having spent time with Äiti.   May I learn everything I can from her before the Lord calls her home.

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth and you get neither!

C.S. Lewis