We are gathered here today to mourn the death, but also to celebrate the life of Harlan Lee Robbins.
In the Bible we read these words from the Apostle Paul:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us in his presence…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:8-11)
Today, we grieve over the end of Lee’s life but we have confidence that the Lord sustains us. We can cling to the fact that God has not abandoned us. It is that confidence that can help us as we grieve.
Will you pray with me?
Our Father, we bow before you as the one who is ruler over all things including life and death. We ask you to draw near to us this day as we mourn the loss of Lee Robbins. Help us to remember him and strengthen us as we carry on. We ask these things in the name of Christ. Amen.
Harlan Lee Robbins was born August 2, 1949 in Hemet, California, the son of Clyde Eugene and Shirley B. Compton Robbins.
He lived most of his life in California where he worked as a carpenter. He later moved to Laughlin, Nevada where he worked in the casinos. In 1994 he moved to LaHarpe and most recently worked for Catfish Bend Casino. He enjoyed riding motorcycles.
Lee died on February 9, 2008 at his home in LaHarpe at the age of 58.
He is survived by a son Jason Robbins of Oregon, 2 grandchildren, his mother and step-father, Shirley “Rusty” and Harley Palmer of LaHarpe, his step-mother, Jan Robbins of Hemet, California, 1 sister, Darlene Smith of Las Vegas, Nevada, 1 brother, Raymond Robbins of Midway City, California, 1 half sister, Cindy Palmer of Ferris, Illinois, 1 half brother, Michael Hardman of Klamath Falls, Oregon, several half-brothers and sisters on his father’s side, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father and his twin sister, Marlene Burdg.
Lee Robbins was a simple man. He loved his family, his dogs, and his motorcycle (although it may not have been in that order.) He thoroughly enjoyed spending time with kids, and seized any opportunity he could to make people laugh.
Lee was dependable. His family and friends knew that they could depend on him to be there when they needed him. He could always be depended on to listen, to lend a hand, or to share leftovers (if there were any.) Lee could also be depended on to get a laugh. He loved his motorcycle so much that he would take it inside during the winter, set it in his living room, and decorate it with lights. He loved to tell the other members of his family that he was the only normal one, even though he knew most of them didn’t believe that to be true. Lee loved to have fun with his friends and family, and he could be depended on to make you laugh.
It is difficult when we face the death of someone we love. Part of the reason is that we know we will miss them. We will certainly miss Lee’s clowning nature. We will miss the love that he showed for his friends and family. We will miss the picture of his dogs warming his feet.
It is normal for us to grieve over these things. We will miss those moments, and it’s ok to cry. It is ok to “lose it,” these things are a normal part of grief—and are a normal part of the human condition.
Certainly death is difficult because we will miss our loved ones, but I think we also struggle with the death of someone we love because it reminds us that life is fleeting. We are reminded that we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and for many people, that’s scary. It’s scary, because we don’t know what lies beyond the grave. Some people choose to simply deny the reality of life beyond the grave. They will say, “You live, you die, and then that’s it. Personally, I don’t see how that is comforting. It makes life ultimately meaningless. It certainly doesn’t bring any comfort or hope. There is another way of dealing with the trauma of death. The Bible tells us that if we will place our trust in Jesus—if we will admit that we are sinners, people who refuse to live our lives God’s way, and we acknowledge that we don’t deserve to be forgiven—then we will spend eternity in heaven. Heaven is not a place of clouds, harps and church choirs . . . it is a place of ultimate life. It is the place where we will live the life God designed us to live. We will be freed from sickness, frustration and pain. But the greatest thing about Heaven is that it is a place of fellowship and intimacy with God. This seems like a pipe dream to many people, but Jesus himself told us that there was life beyond the grave, and then he proved it when he rose again.
In John 11:11 Jesus says,
I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?
Jesus tells us that if we will simply trust in him, we no longer need to fear death. Death is no longer the end, it is merely a point of transfer. It is not an end; it is a new beginning. I didn’t know Lee, and I don’t know where he stood with God. None of us can know what was in Lee’s heart, because we are only able to see the outside of a man. God accurately knows the true nature of our heart. I don’t know what was in Lee’s heart, but I can tell you one thing for sure; if Lee asked Jesus to forgive him for the things he had done wrong, then he is at home today with Jesus.
In the passage I read to you just a minute ago, notice that Jesus ends with a question: “Do you believe this?” It’s an important question. It is a question of ultimate importance, and a question that takes on new relevance to us today. Let me encourage you to let Lee’s death cause you to examine your own life. Our life on this earth is fleeting. When our earthly body wears out though, it is not the end.
As you grieve today, I encourage you to remember the stories about Lee. Remember the funny things he did, remember the love you felt for him. But as you grieve, recognize the one you can turn to for help. Dare to believe that Jesus has not abandoned you, and that you can “live even though you die.” No matter what has happened in your life, you are not too far away for God to bring you back. Lee wasn’t too far away and neither are you. Take comfort in that fact as you grieve.
Will you pray with me?
Gracious Father, you are the author of life. You are the one who brought Lee Robbins into the world. Thank you for his life. Thank you for the things he taught us. Thank you for the love he extended.
We confess that as you brought Lee into the world, so you are the one who has called him home. There are a lot of things we’d like to understand. We have a bunch of questions that start with the word “Why?” However, in our time of confusion and grief, we ask that You grant us your strength. We ask that you help us to trust your character even though we are confused by the circumstances of life. Help us to find hope in the midst of grief.
Lord, I pray for this family. I thank you for the tie that binds them together. I pray now that you would draw them close to you. Help them to trust you. Comfort them in the lonely times. Help them to remember the good times. Grant them the comfort that can come only through you. We ask all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.