We are here this morning for several reasons: to celebrate and thank God for the life of Elgin E. Hardisty; to comfort each other in this time of loss; and to recall the truths of our faith so we might view this day with the proper perspective.
The Word of God is our source of comfort in times of loss:
In 1 Peter we read these powerful words,
All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. 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! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.
So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy. Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9 (NLT)
This is the basis of our hope this morning: this life is not all there is.
Let’s pray together.
Father, we bow before you today and confess that we are still a little numb from the suddenness of Elgin’s death. We knew she was nearing the end of her life. We knew she was ready to go home to you . . . but, it still caught us by surprise.
Our grief is tempered this day by the knowledge that Elgin had a firm and resolute faith in you. We hold fast to your promise that those who trust in you will live even though they die.
Help us this day as we comfort each other and as we remember a life that has touched us all. We ask in Jesus name, Amen.
Mrs. Elgin E. Hardisty, was born April 4, 1913 near Fountain Green, Illinois, she was the youngest of nine children born to Maurice H. and Estella Hobart Yetter. Elgin was close to her siblings. She was a 1932 graduate of Colchester High School. She was a lifetime resident of La Harpe.
On July 12, 1933, she married Erwin Hardisty in Davenport, Iowa. Their children became (and continued to be) their pride and joy. She and her husband owned and operated the “Travelers’ Inn” restaurant in LaHarpe from 1968 until 1973. Later they owned the LaHarpe Pool Hall and Laundromat for several years. Mr. Hardisty had several strokes and spent the last years of his life in the Nursing home. Elgin was by his side through it all. He died on June 24, 1980.
Elgin had many dear friends and enjoyed doing things with Arnold Hobby for around ten years. They had a great deal of fun together. Her friend Jeanette Abernathy was such a wonderful support to Elgin. She knew she could always count on Jeanette. They had a great time together.
Elgin was a was a member of the LaHarpe Senior Citizens, a thirty year member of Hancock County RSVP, and a 57 year member of the LaHarpe Union Church. She died Saturday May 21, 2011 in the LaHarpe-Davier Health Center.
She is survived by
- One daughter – Janet (Kermit) Barrett of Colchester, Illinois,
- One son- Max Hardisty of Bloomington, Illinois,
- Five grandchildren – Duane (Kathy) Barrett, Dean Barrett, Diane (Jeff) Robinson, Scott (Vickie) Hardisty, David Hardisty
- Ten great grandchildren, three step grandchildren, and ten step great great grandchildren.
- She was preceded in death by her husband, one daughter- Jean Hardisty, three sisters- Alma Rich, Mabel Huston, and Naomi Lewis, and five brothers- Lewis, Jennings, Harry, Ross, and Fay Yetter.
I have known Elgin for just under thirty years. It is staggering to think that this amounts to less than a third of her life.
Elgin experienced a great deal during her lifetime. She lived through the two World Wars and the Great Depression. She had to bury a child, she watched her husband die inch by inch in a Nursing home after his strokes, she cared for her sister who became increasingly unable to care for herself, she buried all her siblings, and a dear companion in Arnold Hobby. Just in the last several year she had two knees replaced, a hip replaced, and several other physical problems. Yet through all of these things Elgin remained positive. Many of us remember her responding to a question saying, “It doesn’t do any good to complain”.
If you knew Elgin you knew that she loved her family. She really enjoyed seeing her family grow and expand. She felt loved and cherished by her family and she likewise loved and cherished them. She was never happier than at a family gathering or reunion.
Elgin had lots of interests. She liked to cook. She made cookies, noodles, Angel Food cakes and every year made a bunch of jelly which she would give away to people. She was making Jelly right up to the end. When she was asked if she was getting tired Elgin said, “I will be when we get finished!” She was not afraid of hard work.
She loved her flowers and enjoyed watching the birds. She enjoyed going out to eat catfish in Dallas City or Lomax and Pizza at Aurelio’s. She also enjoyed stopping for Lemon Ice Cream in Colchester. She enjoyed her Sunday lunch trips with Tom and Elie Koopmans and Howard and Marilyn Thie. She liked hunting for mushrooms and used to enjoy fishing.
Elgin listened to or watched just about every Illinois basketball game, she followed the Cardinals in baseball and was devoted to watching Wheel of Fortune every night. The family knew that they should not call her between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. Elgin had a creative side to her. She loved crafts and was often working on something. Even though her eyesight was failing her she used her “reading machine” to read various papers every day. She was always informed about what was going on.
Elgin loved to travel It didn’t matter where she was going. She just liked getting out. If someone said, “Elgin we were wondering if you would like to come with us . . . “ She would answer “You Bet” before you even told her where you were going. She liked seeing the farms, the flowers, and she just liked to do things. Elgin and Arnold traveled a great deal. After their trips to Missouri, Elgin would always bring me pecans and a jar of jelly.
Every day she went up to the Sr. Citizens center for lunch. She would then spend much of the afternoon there playing 4 point or 10 point Pitch. The group at the center was like a second family to her. She enjoyed learning what was going on in the lives of others. She was a very smart woman but didn’t feel any need to show off how smart she was.
You might have heard Elgin say, “I love everybody.” She meant that. She knew everyone was different and that was OK.
Elgin enjoyed living in La Harpe. Lisa Irish used to come over to the house in her Barbie Jeep to play Old Maid with Elgin (and sometimes with Arnold). Elgin was always glad to see her. She enjoyed her neighbors over the years.
Cindy Irish commented that Elgin loved her birds. The Irish’s cat, Snickers also loved birds! Snickers used to go over to her yard and climb up to her birdhouses and stick his paws inside to get to the nest. One day they saw Elgin outside trying to rig up something to keep Snickers out of the bird house. Cindy said, “She never said a word to us. I know she loved us but have a strong suspicion she hated our cat.”
Elgin had a wonderful way with people. She liked people. She was always asking questions about your life. She often answered questions with a question to help you work something through on your own. This is a very rare and endearing personality trait. It was great to have Elgin in our church because she was gifted at engaging people in conversation, making them feel welcome and valued.
Every time I saw Elgin I gave her a hug and she loved it. But it wasn’t always that way. Stella Tillotson told me once that I should give her a hug and said it meant a lot to her when I did so. So, whenever I saw Stella I felt I had permission to give her a hug. One day I came over and hugged Stella outside the funeral home, She was standing with Elgin. Later, Elgin said to Stella that she didn’t understand why I never hugged her since she belonged to our church. Stella told me about the conversation and since I knew it was OK to do so, I hugged Elgin every time I saw her. On Sunday morning she might have to wait for me to finish talking to someone, but she waited for her hug. I think they meant as much to me as they did to her. I will miss them.
Elgin may have been 98 years old but she was still mentally sharp. When people would encourage her to “take it easy” her response was simple: “Don’t tell me what to do!” In her mid 90’s she went on her first motorcycle ride. If you asked her why she would do something she was likely to say, “Why not? I might not be here tomorrow!”
Perhaps the thing I loved about Elgin the most was her sense of humor. She had a quick wit and a great laugh. It didn’t take a whole lot to get her giggling.
Elgin was one of those people who was always willing to serve. When the doors of the church were open she would be there. She attended our Thursday morning Bible Study for many years. When something was needed for a funeral dinner (either physical help or a food item) she would say yes. Every month she came to the church to help prepare the monthly church mailings. At 98 she knew she couldn’t do much, but she was still willing to do what she could do.
She was a woman who was greatly blessed. She was able to live till 98, her mind was sharp, and she was still enjoying the journey. She died the way she wanted to die, she just went to sleep. There was no long Nursing home stay. She actually was only there for a couple of hours. She lived right up to the moment she died.
Elgin Hardisty never clamored for attention. She wasn’t worried about impressing people. She lived out her faith every day in any way she could. She believed in people and always thought the best of everyone. She was a quiet and very faithful saint. I suspect she impacted our lives in many more ways than we realize. I am confident that when she met the Lord last Saturday, He looked at her and said, “Well done! My good and faithful servant.”
The Apostle Paul wrote,
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. [ 2 Corinthians 5:1 NLT]
Jesus told us that He was “Going to prepare a place for us”. (John 14)
These are the promises to which we hold today. However, we are right to ask a couple of questions: First, how do we know the promise is true? And second, “To whom does the promise apply?”
Lots of people believe a lot of things that aren’t true. Just this last weekend the news was filled with the predictions of a Pastor who was convinced Saturday was going to be the time when God took all the Christians out of the world. He was mistaken. Just because we believe something sincerely doesn’t make it true. I can believe that I can fly but that belief won’t keep me from crashing to the ground if I were to jump off of a roof.
Belief in life beyond the grave is not wishful thinking; it is anchored to the promise of God found in the Old Testament and in the life of Jesus in the New Testament. The Bible predicted the coming of Christ with such accuracy that it is impossible for it to be a coincidence. The life of Jesus was recorded by the Gospels and several historical sources outside the Bible. It is not a made up story. His story was told to the generation of people who could have easily discounted the story if it had not been true. Yet no one was able to discredit the reports. Jesus did miracles and taught with an authority and insight that still burns into hearts today. Jesus foretold his death and his resurrection.
It is that resurrection that is the real key to our faith. Paul told us that if Christ is not raised, then we are still in our sin and we have no real hope of life beyond the grave. Paul encouraged people to examine the evidence for the resurrection. He said Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time. He appeared in various places over a 40 day period after his death. He talked with them, walked with them, and even ate with them. The message of Jesus was clear: those who put their trust in Him will live even after they die. We call that existence “Heaven”. We are to have faith, but it is an informed and reasonable faith.
Many people believe everyone goes to Heaven. In other words, the only thing you have to do to get to Heaven is: die. Others believe only the good people go to Heaven. And we all think that we, and those we love, are among those good people.
This is not what the Bible says and this is not what Elgin believed. The Bible tells us that only those who stop relying on their own goodness (which is really an illusion anyway) and instead embrace and trust Christ are the ones who will live beyond this life in Heaven.
We have a problem in our relationship with God. It is called sin. Because God is holy and pure our sin must be dealt with before we can have a relationship with God. Jesus came to deal with that sin. When He died, He died as a substitute for us. He bore the penalty for our rebellion.
It sounds narrow minded to say that Jesus is the only way to Heaven but it is not meant to exclude anyone. The sacrifice of Christ is the payment we all need. The offer of forgiveness and new life is open to anyone who will take this offer to be made right with God that comes only through Jesus.
I am persuaded that Elgin had this kind of faith. She tried to live the best life she could live not to earn Heaven but because she trusted Christ. She held on in tough times because she believed God was working in her life and she was willing to follow Him wherever He would lead her. And because of this I believe Saturday was a glorious day for Elgin.
According to the Bible, Elgin walked from this life into the arms of Jesus. What a hug that must have been! On Saturday she was able to see clearly, walk without limitation, and sing in a way she never sang on this earth. In truth, on Saturday Elgin became more alive that we can even begin to comprehend. No more sorrow! No more tears! No more limitations and pain! On Saturday she was reunited with family members who have gone before. It was (and is) the reunion of all reunions! Most of all, Elgin met the Lord she followed all her life. She experienced the fullness of His love.
Saturday was a hard day for us; but it was a great day for her. We are sad today because we no longer have Elgin with us. We grieve and that is right and appropriate. However, in our sadness for our loss we should also rejoice for her gain.
It is a little like when your children go off to college or they get married. As a parent there is sadness that your child is leaving home. Yet, for the child there is a joy of new beginnings and the reaching of another milestone. We rejoice for them even in our own sense of loss.
In the same way today we must set Elgin free. We cherish the memories and remember the lessons but we should be glad that she has moved on to something wonderful.
So, our job today is to do several things. First, we should take a good look at our own lives. One of the things Elgin would say is “You have to have faith”. I hope you will ask yourself if you have faith. Do you have faith in the sure and certain Word of God? Have you embraced the message and life of Jesus Christ? If not, I hope you will really look at the evidence. I hope you will ask God to make Himself clear to you. I know Elgin would want to see you in Heaven.
Second, we need to remember. Take time to share stories, to laugh, and to treasure the things you have learned. Realize how blessed we have been because of our relationship with Elgin Hardisty.
Remember what she taught us,
- People may be different but they all need love
- Life is uncertain, so enjoy the journey…you may not be here tomorrow!
- Obstacles will come into our lives (especially if we live long); so instead of cursing the obstacles we should learn how to overcome them.
- The best way to learn about others, and the best way to help others learn is the same: ask questions
- God has created a world full of beauty, we must not become so busy that we miss it
- A good hearty laugh is the best medicine you can find. Make sure you take several doses every day!
- You may not be able to do what others do, but you can do what you are able to do.
- Your family is a gift from God. Treasure it.
- A good friend is something to be cherished
- The best time to walk with God is right now.
- Everyone can use a hug once in a while.
May God help us to remember and to have walk by faith
Father, we’ve learned a great deal from Elgin. Sadly, it is only as we reflect at her passing that we appreciate just how special she was. Thank you for such a rich and wonderful blessing.
Father we ask for several things. First, we ask you to welcome Elgin into the place that you have prepared for her. Help her to know that we miss her.
We also ask that you deepen our faith. Grant that we might see and live with a true and lasting trust in Christ. Help us to stop playing at faith and instead to believe and follow.
We pray that you would help us to embrace Elgin’s spirit. Help us to live more positively. Help us to see the treasure in the people around us. Help us to hold dear to the things that are truly worth treasuring.
And finally, we pray for this family. Lord, fill them with wonderful memories. Remind them of wonderful things that have long been forgotten. Draw them together at this time of sadness. Fill the void in their life with the wonderful hope of a future reunion that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ. For we ask it in His name. Amen.