We gather this afternoon to mourn the loss and thank God for the life of Bea Covert.
We turn to God’s Word for comfort. The prophet Isaiah gives us a strong and wonderful promise,
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. [Isaiah 40:28-31]
In this time of numbness and grief, the Lord God has promised us the strength we will need.
When Jesus was talking to his disciples about his upcoming death He spoke some of the most hopeful words in all of Scripture,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
Jesus wanted us to know that death is not the end of the story . . .even though it feels that way.
Will you pray with me?
Gracious Father, you are the one who gives life; both physical life and spiritual life. We bow before you today as the one who numbers our days. Father, today we ask you to help us as we try to appreciate and celebrate the life of Bea Covert. Help us also as we try to catch a glimpse of what lies beyond the grave so that our hope may be stirred.
Be present in our midst. Grant us your comfort and grace. We ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Bea Covert was born August 12, 1916 in Augusta, Illinois, the daughter of Roy and Clara Koontz Wooldridge. On August 9, 1937 she married Gaylord A. Covert in Lancaster, Missouri. He preceded her in death in January 1975.
She was a 1934 graduate of Augusta High School. In 1978 she moved from rural Carthage, Illinois to LaHarpe. She worked at the Memorial Hospital in Carthage in the dietary department and at the LaHarpe School Cafeteria. She was a former member of the Rebekkah Lodge in Carthage, the USA Club and the LaHarpe Union Church.
Bea resided at the LaHarpe Davier Health Care Center for the last eight years. She died on Saturday, July 4th at 9:10 a.m. She was 92.
She is Survived by her son, Philip Eugene Covert of Quincy, Illinois, and her daughter, Carol (Richard) Edmunds of rural Dallas City, Illinois, five grandchildren, Robin Edmunds of Bloomington, Illinois, JoEllen Edmunds and Richard Edmunds, both of rural Dallas City and Christina Covert and Alex Covert both of Quincy, three great-grandchildren, Alaina Edmunds, Blaine Covert and Ty Covert, and one sister, Alice Grove of Good Hope, Illinois.
She was preceded in death by her husband, parents and two brothers, Vernon and Roe Wooldridge.
Bea Covert was an energetic and out-going person. I think it was safe to say that Bea was not afraid to stand up for what was right – that may have been because she believed she was always right! It would be fair to call her “strong-willed”.
Bea enjoyed people. She loved being a part of groups and doing things with her friends. She used to be on the go so much that her husband used to remark that there was really no need to put anti-freeze in the car during the winter because the car wasn’t going to sit long enough to get cold.
Bea could strike up a conversation with anyone in any place. You never knew what she might say to that person but she would engage them in conversation. Her family would tell you that if she had an “edit button” she seldom used it. One hospice worker made the comment that Bea had never relinquished her role as mother in the lives of her children. She felt she could bark out any orders that she wanted to her children because . . . she was their mother! The family had to learn to take everything she said with a grain of salt.
Bea enjoyed playing games of all kinds. She played Canasta, Pinochle, Pitch, Yahtzee, Uno and just about any other game. I get the impression she enjoyed playing the games more for the fun of arguing with people and giving them a hard time than to win. Bea enjoyed life. She loved her friends and it was hard for her as they gradually all died off. In some ways it was a blessing that she didn’t have to remember that they had died.
Bea also loved to travel. After her husband died she used to take advantage of the tours offered by Capital tours in Carthage. She traveled to Hawaii, Alaska and numerous other places. She was an adventurer.
Bea loved her family. She liked living near the school because it made it convenient for some of the Grandkids to stop by. Rob used to stop by the house after school before football practice. One day he stopped by the house while Bea was on one of her vacations. Some of the guys came over and they decided they would put a pizza in the oven. They turned on the oven and before they even put anything in the oven they smelled something. They looked inside the oven and found that Bea had placed all her valuable papers in a box and hid it in the oven!!! Fortunately, they were not destroyed.
Bea apparently had some similar traits with her father so they didn’t always get along. However as he got older he was always welcome in her home. There was always a place for him whenever he wanted to stay. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do but Bea believed it was the right thing to do.
Bea liked to crochet. She made numerous afghans and enjoyed giving them away. She enjoyed her garden and could can just about anything. Bea missed her home but she didn’t mind living at the Nursing home. She liked having someone around to help take care of her. I think it gave her a sense of security.
Perhaps those who worked at the Care Center said it best: “She kept things lively!” I remember “Hat Day” at the Nursing home. Bea was given a hat but she had no intention of wearing the dumb thing! I stopped by to visit her and she told me I could have the hat. When I declined the hat she told me to give it to my son. We went back and forth about the hat for a little while and finally I said, “How about if I just give it back to the nurses?’
Bea Covert was a fiery lady. I guess that’s part of what made her fun to be around. We’ll miss her.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Corinthians,
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 built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, (2 Cor 5:1,2)
For most of us, thoughts about death make us somewhat excited and anxious. Death is the unknown and most of us are uncomfortable with unknown circumstances. I’m sure thoughts of death made Bea nervous.
When the Apostle Paul talked about death he was different. He started to get excited whenever he talked about dying. This wasn’t because he hated life, it was because he had such a clear picture of what Heaven was to be. He told the Philippians,
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Phil. 1:20-24)
Paul wrote these words when he was in jail. He was facing the real possibility of execution. But Paul did not fear this possibility. He knew that death would bring him to the destination he was longing for. Paul understood that death was not the end of the journey, it was the entrance into our real destination.
It’s like taking a family vacation. Sometimes the journey is long, the kids are cranky and obstacles seem to pile up. But when you reach your destination it is all forgotten. When you see the wide eyes of your children at the gates of Disney World the journey doesn’t seem so bad. When you gaze upon the Grand Canyon or look at the breathtaking mountains, the struggle of the journey seems secondary. And it will be that way in Heaven. When we stand in the presence of Jesus we will have reached our destination. The struggles of life will be swallowed in the wonder of Heaven.
The Bible tells us several things about Heaven. First we are told about all the things that will be absent in Heaven: tears, sorrow, death, pain, darkness, ungodly people, sin, and the curse from Adam’s sin. The wonderful thing about this list is that these are many of the things that haunted Bea and haunt us throughout life. These things will be abolished in Heaven.
The Bible also tells us about the things that will be present in Heaven: other believers, the river of life, healing fruit, our loving Savior, Jesus, exuberant worship, a Wedding feast, and the unveiled presence of God. In Heaven loved ones who died in the Lord will be reunited. Bodies will be restored. The struggle will be over. Questions will be answered. The plan of God will be revealed. And we will be able to look at all that has taken place . . . even the painful times and see that God had never deserted us but was working even in the hard times for our good. Heaven is when we finally become whole.
One of my favorite authors, Max Lucado puts it this way.
Take a fish and place him on the beach. Watch his gills gasp and scales dry. Is he happy? No! How do you make him happy? Do you cover him with a mountain of cash? Do you get him a beach chair and sunglasses? Do you bring him a Playfish magazine and martini? Do you wardrobe him in double-breasted fins and people-skinned shoes?
Of course not. Then how do you make him happy? You put him back in his element. You put him back in the water. He will never be happy on the beach simply because he was not made for the beach.
And you will never be completely happy on earth simply because you were not made for earth. Oh, you will have your moments of joy. You will catch glimpses of light. You will know moments or even days of peace. But they simply do not compare with the happiness that lies ahead. (WHEN GOD WHISPERS YOUR NAME p. 173)
Paul wrote, “as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). Do you know what this means? It means that no matter what you imagine Heaven to be, the reality is better than your imagination. Do you imagine Heaven to be a place of endless happiness? Heaven is still better that that. Do you imagine Heaven to be a place where you live without fear, anxiety or pressure? Heaven is better still. Do you imagine Heaven as the best of family reunions? Keep trying . . . Heaven is better yet. In truth, we have no idea how wonderful Heaven is. What we do know is that Jesus will be there. And that reunion will be unimaginable in its greatness.
The Bible however is clear, not everyone does go to Heaven. Only God knows the heart, but I think Bea is in Heaven. I don’t think Bea is in Heaven because she was a good person. Bea had her faults just like the rest of us. The Bible is clear that no one is good enough to earn Heaven. Bea was active in the Union Church when she was healthy but even that does not earn salvation.
I believe Bea is in Heaven because the Bible tells us those who truly trust Christ for forgiveness and new life will be given eternal life. Faith is true belief that results in a changed lifestyle. Bea loved God and wanted to live faithfully before Him. There were many things she didn’t understand, but complete understanding is not a prerequisite to eternal life. Lots of people get married without understanding what love really is . . . but they are still married.
I can remember many Bible Studies I shared with Bea. She gave evidence that she “got it”. She understood the truth about Jesus and also understood that this truth was meant to be the foundation for living. Faith was part of her life.
Now it is possible that Bea saw the church like she did the rest of her clubs. Perhaps she enjoyed being a member of the church but was never truly a follower of Christ. I don’t think that is the case. I believe Bea truly trusted Jesus.
This all may sound somewhat like pie-in-the-sky delusional and wishful thinking. I might think the same thing if it wasn’t for the resurrection of Jesus. As I have studied the resurrection over the years I have become convinced that the only explanation for what happened to Jesus is what the Bible tells us happened: Jesus rose from the dead! He was seen by witnesses. People talked to Him, touched him, and even ate with Him. Then they saw Him ascend into the clouds.
To my mind this makes Jesus someone unique and worth listening to. He is the very one who promises, “He who believes in me will live even though he die.” So I base my confidence . . . and I hope you base your confidence today on the sure word of the man who rose from the dead.
Our challenge therefore today is to separate what is seen (a lifeless body) from what is unseen (a soul released to newness of life). Our job is to grieve but not like the rest of the world who has no hope. Our hope is sure. But as we look forward to a future reunion we will also cherish the memories of the past
- The beautiful afghans
- Bea’s unedited conversations
- Her hearty laugh
- Her playful spirit
- and her ability to make friends with just about anyone
We are richer because of her life. For this, we give thanks to God.
This is also the time for us to think about the ultimate issues of life. Where are you placing your hope for eternity? Are you betting that there is no such thing? If so, it is a very sad and a very dangerous wager. Are you putting confidence in your goodness or hard work? The Bible declares that there is no one who is good enough to earn Heaven? Are you hoping your church membership will save you? It may point you in the right direction but that is all it can do. There is only one way to the life that never ends, and that is through turning from our rebellion against God and trusting and following Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. And if you will do so, your life will change in the present and in the future you may get the chance to play Uno with Bea again.
Our Father, we thank you for Bea Covert. Thank you for her spirit, her stubbornness and her sense of humor. We acknowledge her flaws even as we celebrate her strengths. You blessed us through her. Please, welcome her warmly into your presence.
Lord, help us as we seek to grasp hope in the midst of sadness. For those who may not know you intimately, help them to find you.
I ask that you give your blessing to this family. Help them to retain warm memories. Stir up within them a fervent and realistic hope. Give them a sense of peace as they reflect on the care that they extended to mom and Grandma over the years. Draw them close together as a family.
Please protect, guide, and keep us until that day when we will be together again. We ask in Jesus name. Amen.