We gather here this afternoon to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Claud, better known as “Jack” Overhulser. We also want to gain and eternal perspective in our time of loss.
For help we turn to the Word of God.
Psalm 39:4,5,7,8,12 (NIV) Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools. Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.
2 Cor. 5 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not made by human hands, Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed we will not be found naked. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
Let us pray: Our Father, we come to you today in our time of loss because we know that you alone can help us in the way that we need. Help us to remember and celebrate Jack’s life and then help us to gain perspective on what lies beyond the grave.
Bless our time together that we might find that strength that comes from you alone. Amen.
Claud E. “Jack” Overhulser was born July 18, 1917 in Luray, Missouri, the son of Claud Bryan and Carrie (Kirner) Overhulser. Jack was the oldest of the children and I’m told could be quite ornery. This being said, he loved his brother and sisters. He graduated from the 8thgrade and had many friends.
On October 31, 1945 he married Ruth Rodeffer in Carthage, Illinois. She died August 9, 1974. For a period Jack and Ruth attended the Durham Church.
Jack served in the US Army in World War II, serving in the South Pacific over 4 years. He was justifiably proud of his service to our country. Jack was a member of the LaHarpe American Legion Post 301 where he served faithfully in many different capacities.
For over 36 years Jack operated a corn sheller and worked for numerous farmers in the area. He was well known in the LaHarpe community for his honesty and Missouri wit. He was also known as a man who was stubborn and his friends knew that you didn’t want to make him mad. He was not afraid to speak his mind or tell you when he disagreed with you.
Many remember Jack for selling peaches, which he would go south each year, to purchase. He enjoyed gardening, he was a good fisherman, and looked forward to hunting for mushrooms. Jack loved deer hunting and during deer season he always wanted to know if anyone “got one”. He was one of the first people to get a deer-hunting permit when they were first handed out in 1957. Jack loved playing 4 point-pitch with his fellow Legionnaires, he liked to talk, and he was a man who would do anything for you.
Jack had a dog named “Wrinkles” that was his faithful companion. When a car hit Wrinkles, Jack had lost a family member.
Jack suffered from emphysema and had some heart problems. He was grateful that Jo Shoemaker looked in on him often. When he needed to move to the Nursing home in Kahoka, he enjoyed being close to Madonna and even went to the chapel at the Nursing home with her.
Jack passed away Monday, February 21, 2005 at 8:05 P.M. at the Clark County Nursing Home in Kahoka where he resided for the past 2 years. He was 87
He is survived by 4 sisters,
- Madonna Perry of Kahoka, MO,
- Fayla Thomas of Hollister, MO,
- Evelyn Hibbard of Shell Knob (Branson), MO
- Dorothy Schroder of Corona, CA
- and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, 1 sister, Helen Oblinis and 1 brother, Wayne Overhulser.
Today is a day of mourning, of sorrow and separation, of tears. But it is also a day when our hearts are in need of, and open to, a special ministry the dear Lord provides—the ministry of comfort. The word comfort occurs 112 times in the Bible, and Scriptures containing that precious word are among our very favorites. Let me quote some of them for you:
As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; and you shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me …
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
How does God convey His comfort into our hearts during times like these? What are His means and methods? I suggest to you three.
The Consolation of Family and Friends. When Jesus’ friend, Lazarus died, the friends of his family gathered—Jesus among them—to comfort Mary and Martha (see John 11). When we lose someone near and dear to us, we’re left with a deep sense of loneliness. Even if you haven’t seen someone in a long time there is this sense of emptiness that comes over you. There is a vacant spot in our hearts of immense size. More than ever, we need the prayers, the love, and the presence of our dearest friends to remind us that, despite our loss, we are not entirely alone. Our friends bring food, they answer the phone, they help make arrangements, they sit with us, they weep with us, they give their hugs, and the silent support of their loyal presence. Sometimes the Lord also gives them a word for us. In sharing their experiences, extending their prayers, or reading God’s Word to us, they bring us the comfort we long for.
The Comfort of Scripture. The Bible is the Word of God and it has a remarkable ability to speak to our deepest ache. Catherine Marshall tells of her struggle with overwhelming grief following the unexpected death of her husband, Peter. One day she opened her Bible to Hebrews 12,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
There was a woman in Middle Tennessee named Agnes Frazier who began each day for fifty years by having devotions with her husband, Emmett. The morning after his passing, Agnes didn’t think she could sit at the breakfast table and read the Bible. But she did, and the text she came to was this verse: I, the Lord, will be a husband to you (Is. 54:5). She smiled and said, “Thank you, Lord.” God’s Word has a wonderful way of saying just what we need to hear in our time of sorrow.
Even if you are not familiar with the Bible I encourage you to get a modern translation, sit down, and read. If you are new to the Bible, start in the New Testament and listen to Jesus. His Word has a wonderful ability to comfort the troubled soul.
The Contemplation of Heaven. In his book on heaven, evangelist D. L. Moody quotes an acquaintance as saying: “When I was a boy, I thought of heaven as a great, shining city, with vast walls and domes and spires, and with nobody in it except white-robed angels, who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother died; and I thought of a great city with walls and domes and spires, and one little fellow that I was acquainted with. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then another brother died; and there were two that I knew. Then my acquaintances began to die; and the flock continually grew. But it was not till I had sent one of my little children to his Heavenly Parent—God—that I began to think I had a little in myself. A second went, a third went; a fourth went; and by that time I had so many acquaintances in heaven, that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I began to think of the residents of the celestial city as my friends. And now so many of my acquaintances have gone there, that it sometimes seems to me that I know more people in heaven than I do on earth.”
To be fair and honest, the Bible does not tell us that everyone goes to Heaven. We are told that only those who put their trust and confidence in Jesus Christ will live forever in His Kingdom. In other words, Heaven if for those who realize they have no hope to save themselves. The true believer does not look at his or her goodness. They know that even the best of us cannot earn a place in God’s house. Instead, those who believe trust what Christ has done by dying in their place on the cross. They draw confidence from His resurrection from the dead for it shows that He was who He said He was. They see in Christ’s resurrection the hope of the life beyond the grave. The true believer clings to God’s promise of forgiveness and new life. The person who trusts Christ realizes that this world is not our home. Though we love our lives, this is nothing compared to what God has prepared for us.
Candor demands that we admit that Jack did not spend a great deal of time in church. He went some when he was first married and he attended the chapel in the Nursing home during these last two years. I honestly have no idea where Jack was in his relationship with God. However, I would point out that the requirement for Heaven is not anchored to how many Sundays you were in church. What God requires is that we place our hope in the person and work of Jesus. If Jack placed his trust in Christ during these last two years, He is in Heaven today. I’m hopeful that Jack’s desire to go to the chapel was his way of reaching out to the God who is reaching out to you and to me.
Today as you grieve I encourage you to do three things. First, reach out to each other. Keep in touch, be sensitive to the tears and sadness, and lend a shoulder to cry on when necessary. Second, remember joyfully. Tell your stories about Jack. Recount those fun and special times of the past. Remember his stubbornness, his work ethic, and his sense of humor. Celebrate what he has meant to you. Third, take this opportunity to do an inventory of your faith. Are you confident of Heaven? Have you come to that point in your life where you have trusted Jesus as the only one who can save you from your sin and lead you to Heaven? Have you received His gift of salvation and new life? If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to delay no longer. Use this time of sadness as your encouragement to get right with God. If you have placed your trust with Christ, then use this time to think about Heaven. Allow yourself to smile at the possibility that you will see Jack again.
Will you pray with me?
Gracious Father, we thank you for the life of Jack Overhulser. We thank you for his spirit, his service, and all the memories. Jack has touched every person in this room to a greater or lesser degree. We ask you to extend your mercy and grace to Jack. Welcome him into your presence through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I ask you to comfort this family. Grant them joy in their memories and strength in the time of sadness. For those who must deal with this loss and another just over the horizon, please give that extra measure of comfort and strength.
Help us as we look at our lives. Lead us to a true and saving faith. Grant that we might face the future free of fear, and filled with the confidence that comes by faith. We ask these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.