Most of our friends have never heard of Betty. I officiated for her burial service in June of 2013, 2 weeks after her 103rd birthday. She was in her right mind, capable of quoting and writing hundreds of Scriptures from memory, and full of the joy of the Lord.
Betty was born at the height of the Azusa Street Revival, in 1910. She married her husband Teddy in 1929, and stayed happily married for 73 years.
Teddy & Betty walked into our Glen Cove Church 25 years ago as an elderly couple looking for a spirit filled place of worship. They were on fire for God, and they impacted our lives greatly in the early stages of our ministry. I’ve never seen so many miracles occur in the life of a couple in their 80’s and then in their 90’s. Teddy & Betty believed the Word of God. They prayed in the Spirit. They refused to quit or complain. They once were broadsided by another vehicle while coming out of Roy Rogers Restaurant with their burgers and fries. I went to the hospital and found them side by side in the hospital room, full of injuries, black and blue, and looking like they had been run over by a truck…which they had! They were laughing, praying, and informing any who would listen that they weren’t staying for long. The doctors were astonished by their accelerated healing and rapid recovery.
Teddy was 90 years old and shoveling his 100 foot long driveway one Winter. He had a massive heart attack. I stood with Betty while the doctors told her that her husband would not recover; his heart had been severely damaged, and it was time to let him go. I offered prayer, but the question was raised: “What quality of life will he have if he stays alive?”. I asked Betty what she wanted, and she said with great confidence: “I want Pop around for another 5 years at least!”. We prayed, calling upon God for a miracle. I walked the next day into the hospital corridor to hear someone shouting loudly. I approached Teddy’s room, and entered to find him sitting up surrounded by the glory of the Lord, hands raised high, rejoicing loudly in a spiritual language he did not know. The doctors brought the report of the impossible: “There is NO evidence that your husband ever had a heart attack; this is not possible….we don’t understand it! He has the heart of a younger man”. Teddy lived another 6 quality, joyful years, and I buried him 11 years ago at the ripe old age of 96.
Betty and Teddy walked in the grace of God like this all the days of their lives. After Teddy passed, Betty insisted that her family members drive her to our church for Sunday services. She was determined to sit under the Word of God. She attended well into her mid 90’s, sometimes with a walker, but determined to receive and worship; always smiling, always with a good word, always full of the Holy Spirit. Betty told me often, “Brother Kelly, once you’ve tasted of the Holy Ghost, nothing else will satisfy”.
January of 2013, Lenora and I were in Quito, Ecuador. I had a startling dream about Betty: She was young, in her 20’s, with a white dress and bare feet. She told me, “Oh, Brother Kelly…I feel perfectly whole and I can run again! And then with a laugh, she took off running across a field of green grass. I awoke and told Lenora that “Betty must have passed away, or she is about to”. I emailed Betty’s family about the dream, but received no response, and so put it aside.
But how awesome God is, to think and to know ahead of the smallest details in the life of a 103 year old woman. I had no idea back in January that we would be in New York that June. But God knew. And He planned things perfectly. A friend asked back in April that I officiate for his daughter’s Long Island wedding. We agreed, flew to New York, and celebrated our 30th anniversary in Manhattan, along with preaching in various churches and visiting old friends. Our last stop was to see Betty on Thursday morning, June 20th. We got to the Senior Center where she was staying, only to be informed that she had passed away, peacefully, only 6 hours earlier. Within minutes I received a call from her granddaughter, asking that we officiate for Betty’s funeral. We were flying out Friday afternoon, and I knew I could not postpone our scheduled ministry in Washington State. I told them, “If the Lord wants us there, He will have to make a way with the funeral home and cemetery for a service at 9:00 tomorrow morning.” That was only 24 hours notice! At 9:00, on Friday morning, June 21st, we celebrated the life of a woman who had lived with excellence for 103 years, walked in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ, and stayed true to God’s Word until the end. She proved every promise and now she is reaping her reward.
The Psalmist said that “Precious in the eyes of the Lord, is the death of His saints”. Maybe you are wondering today if God knows about your situation, your problems, your aches and pains? Betty proved to me over a 25 year span that God is involved in every detail of our lives. I remember driving once many years ago and hearing the Spirit’s voice: “turn around right now and go to the Forsterlings!”. I drove immediately, walked in the door, and Betty cried out, “Oh Hallelujah Pastor! I was just asking Jesus to send you to visit us…we are in need of encouragement and prayer!”
Dear friend, God loves you so much. He cared enough about a 103 year old woman to have given me a dream months ago in South America, simply so that when the time came, and I was in a place unplanned, I would know in my heart that He intended me to be there. I was “Betty’s Pastor”, even after moving to Alaska. That meant something to Betty, it meant something to her family, and so it meant something to God. He cares equally for each one of us. He is a God who strategizes even to the tiniest details of our lives. Why do we worry so much? Don’t worry precious child of God…your Heavenly Father loves you so very much!
And Oh, what a glorious reminder of the realities of heaven! Since Betty’s passing I have been riveted by the memory of that dream: a new body, sheer and unbridled joy, childlike exhilaration, total freedom, no limitations….all of that and more awaits us! Heaven is in your future, and God means for us to be encouraged by that fact. Take a moment today and ponder eternity; it’s not a scary thought…in Jesus, it is your awesome destiny. It is secure. And even now, He is preparing that place for you!