We are here this morning to mourn the loss and remember and celebrate the life of Adeline Louise Stiller.
As we gather together we look for something to hold on to. There is nothing better to comfort in our time of loss than the Word of God.
In the prophetic book of Habakkuk the prophet reflected on various calamities and trials that were coming. And at the conclusion of the prophecy he wrote these powerful words that could very well have been spoken by Adeline,
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength’ he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on to the heights.
Peter wrote of the hope that is ours because of our relationship with Christ
Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad!
1 Peter 1:3 through 1 Peter 1:5 (NLT)
This is the hope I point you toward today. We seek the Lord for the strength, the perspective and the live that He alone can give.
Please pray with me.
Our Father, You are the giver of life even as you are our hope for eternity. You are the One who places us in this life and the One who gives us strength to deal with the challenges and hardships that we encounter. We turn to You today and give you thanks for the life of Adeline Stiller. We also turn to You and ask you to lift our eyes beyond the grim elements of death to the wonderful hope of eternity. Help us as we remember and as we hope. We ask in the name of our wonderful Lord and Savior. Amen.
Adeline Louise Stiller, was born in the rural area around Hebron, North Dakota Nov. 2, 1909, the daughter of Gustav A. and Kathryn Kitzan Kindsvogel. Adeline completed the 9th grade in school. On Oct. 22, 1939, she married Grover Palmer Stiller. He died March 26, 1992.
Adeline spent her early years working on her father’s farm. After marrying Grover they both went to work for the Northern Pacific Railroad. Grover worked as a maintenance worker and Adeline was the cook for the bridge and repair gang. Adeline was never afraid of hard work. As a result of their jobs the Stillers lived in a number of different locations. Wherever the job was, that’s where they lived. Gary was with them as they traveled from place to place. Because of their travel Adeline even “home-schooled” Gary for awhile. She was a woman who did what needed to be done.
When Adeline decided she had had enough of the travel, the family settled in Glendive Montana. Finally, they had a home. Adeline worked at the local hospital as a cook and worked in a number of other places as well. While she was in Glendive she also benefited a great deal from the ministry of Pastor Henry Meyer at the Lutheran Church.
Adeline was a woman of strong faith.
In 1992 Grover and Adeline moved to La Harpe to be close to Gary. Grover died later that year.
Adeline was a devoted mother and wife and a loving Grandmother. She was a humble woman who worked hard.
Adeline was proud of her “dollar quilts”. She put lots of love into every one she made. She was strong and strong-willed. She also loved to play solitaire.
Adeline was not a social person. It wasn’t because she didn’t like people. Actually, it was more from a self-consciousness that made her think that others probably didn’t like her. She never had a lot of money and when she started to lose her hearing and her eyesight she became more self-conscious than ever.
It’s funny, isn’t it? Everyone you talk to mentions what a kind and interesting person Adeline was. She never seemed to believe that about herself.
As I said, Adeline was a woman of faith. She had put her trust and confidence in Jesus Christ a long time ago. She believed that her hope was in what Christ had done for her and she urged others to trust Him as well. Since she had trouble hearing and seeing she eventually chose to attend church via the airwaves. She listened to our broadcast first thing Sunday morning and then watched pastors such as Robert Schuller and D. James Kennedy. Because of her faith and confidence in Jesus, we can have confidence (based on Christ’s promise) that Adeline is now in her new and corrected body.
Adeline died at 98 years old early in the morning on December 31, 2007. She was residing at the LaHarpe Davier Care Center when she died. She was well cared for by her son, her daughter-in-law and the staff of the care center.
Adeline is survived by her son, Gary Wayne Stiller and his wife Marcia of La Harpe, Ill.; two grandchildren, Jerry Stiller of Dallas, TX and Vonda Stiller of Livingston, Montana; two great-grandchildren: Tyler Brueck and Alysa Doran of Livingston Montana; one brother, Edwin Kindsvogel of Mandan, North Dakota; nieces and nephews.
Besides her husband, she was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, John and Gustov Henry Kindsvogel and her sister Eleanor Imhoff. I am sure Adeline is rejoicing to be reunited with those who have preceded her.
In 2 Timothy 4:6-8 we read these words from Paul as he approached his death,
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
I really appreciated a perspective I read on this passage that I hadn’t thought about before. Paul writes, “the time has come for my departure.” Certainly Adeline could have said exactly the same thing. The time of her departure came last Monday. The insight however comes from realizing that how we view this time of departure depends on your perspective.
When we hear that the time of departure has come for our son or daughter who is heading off to war, it is a very sad time. We wave good-bye and tears come to our eyes. We will miss our child and we wonder what will happen to them. However, when we hear that the time of departure has come for that same child when they are finishing their tour of duty and headed home, we may cry, but it is for an entirely different reason. We look forward to their arrival with eagerness.
After a great family vacation seeing family and friends there is a measure of sadness as we head home. However, when we arrive home it feels good to be welcomed by friends and other family members. It is good to be back where we can relax and know some rest. It all depends on whether you are standing at the departure gate or the arrival gate.
I hope you see the parallel. Death is like this. If we look at it from the perspective of the departure we are filled with a measure of sadness. Someone we have loved is gone. However, if we can catch a glimpse of the arrival side, our perspective changes.
In Luke 16 Jesus told the story of a beggar by the name of Lazarus. We don’t know whether this was a true story or simply a parable. It doesn’t really matter. Jesus describes what happens after the death of Lazarus and since it is Jesus who is describing Heaven, it is reasonable to believe that it is an accurate picture. What we learn from Lazarus can help us.
First, In Luke 16:22 we are told that when the time came and the beggar died, the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. Lazarus was disdained in this life, he was overlooked and ignored- some might say he was a “nobody”. But when he died we are told that the angels were there to take him into Heaven. This is certainly a comforting picture of death. We don’t have to journey down some long corridor on our own; It is not a scary time of transition. When we die the angels snatch us up and carry us home. As soon as we cross the threshold of death we are in the arms of God’s messengers. Some people have said that people who are believers seem to relax right before they die because they catch a glimpse of the waiting angels.
Jesus told us that Lazarus was brought to the bosom of Abraham. While he was there he saw and recognized others who had died. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 we are told that we will be raised with those who have died before us. Early Monday morning, Adeline was carried by the angels to a welcoming party that included all her family and friends who were believers and had gone before her. It was a sad day for us but the best of days for her. There is an old hymn that says, “Friends will be there I have known long ago. Joy like a river around me will flow.”
One more thing, In Acts 7:56 Stephen gazed up into Heaven and saw Jesus standing in Heaven to welcome him home. Of all the great reunions Adeline will enjoy, it is hard to imagine the wonder and joy of meeting Jesus for the very first time. Imagine the incredible joy at meeting the One who has loved you from the creation of the world. Imagine meeting the One whom you have tried to serve your entire life. It would be the most exhilarating and exciting experience of life.
The point, I hope is clear: There are tears in our eyes today only because we are in the departure terminal rather than the arrival terminal. We are waving good-bye. We mourn the fact that we will be separated from Adeline for possibly a long time. However, the Bible has given us enough of a glimpse of the future that we can begin to imagine how wonderful it would be to step into the arrival area of Heaven. Though it was probably hard for Adeline to depart, when she arrived in Heaven she was surely greeted by open arms, excited friends, and a magnificent Savior. Our challenge is to recognize that we grieve for OUR loss, not Adeline’s. She has lost nothing and found everything.
The promise of the Bible is that everyone who truly has put their trust and confidence in Christ for forgiveness and new life will know the joy we have described. But only those who trust Him in a deep and life-changing way can claim these promises. Adeline was one of those people. I hope you will use this day to examine your own relationship with the Savior. I encourage you to do an inventory of your soul. Abandon all hope that you can save yourself by your goodness. Instead embrace the mercy that God extends through the grace of Jesus. Make sure that you know your final destination.
Based on the promise of Jesus, we know that this is not the end for Adeline. . . it is really just the beginning. Some day in the future, if you have anchored your hope to Christ, you will move from the departure terminal to the arrival terminal and you too will meet and be embraced by Jesus. And don’t be surprised if standing right beside Him you see Adeline with a smile on her face and a “Welcome Home” on her lips.
Will you pray with me?
Father, our perspective is so limited. We are only able to comprehend what we see and know in this life. We know, based on the historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. He showed us that there is more to this life than what we can currently see. So we ask that you help us. Help us first, to put our trust in the One who has given His life so we might be forgiven and made new. Help us to have a genuine trust in Christ. Second, we ask that you help us as we grieve. Grant that our memories would be vivid. Help us to remember Adeline in the years when she was healthy and vibrant. Draw this family together. Help them to draw strength from each other. Finally, help us to trust in Your promise of life beyond the grave. Help us to gain a the perspective of the arrival gate. Create in us a vivid picture and a fervent hope so that when our time of departure comes we might know the joy of anticipation rather than the fear of separation. We ask these things in Jesus name. Amen.
CONGREGATION SINGS . . . “JUST AS I AM” #342