We gather this morning to mourn the loss and also to celebrate the life of John Crum.
Our strength and hope this day is found in the Word of God. In Psalm 62:5-8 we read,
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Isaiah 40 records these great words that speak to those who are emotionally drained today,
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 wary, 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.
And as always, when one who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ dies, we must remember what is ahead for them. Listen as I read this picture of Heaven from the book of Revelation, chapter 7
they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, not any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
With these thoughts in mind, let’s pray.
Our Father we come before you this morning and admit that we are weary. We have not even adjusted to Harriet’s death and now we are here again to mourn John’s death.
Lord, comfort our hearts with the truth of eternity. Lift our eyes from the ground and help us to focus on eternity. Help us this day to remember, and to hope. Amen.
Mr. John M. Crum was born October 28, 1915 near Disco, Illinois. He was a graduate of LaHarpe High School where he was known as a good football player. In fact, some people knew John as Shin-ey because of his football days. John, being rather short, used to tackle people by flying at their shins and grabbing them around the ankles. For many, this nickname stuck for life.
John married Harriet Williams on June 2nd, 1939 in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. She preceded him in death on April 23, 1999.
John farmed all his life in the Disco area and moved to LaHarpe in 1981. He served on the Hancock Country 4H Buildings & Grounds Committee for several years and was involved in the fund-raising and construction of the buildings currently used by the 4H in Carthage. He also served on the Disco school board for several years. He was a member of the Hancock County Farm Bureau and the Union Church of LaHarpe.
John went home to be with the Lord on Saturday, June 5th at Burlington Medical Center. He was 83 years old.
Mr. Crum is survived by,
one son and daughter-in-law Roger and Marjorie Crum of LaHarpe;
two brothers: William Crum of Hendersonville, North Carolina
and Robert Crum of Dallas City, Illinois.
three sisters, Mary Crum of Rock Island,
Catherine Larson of Galva, Illinois
Virginia Lawhorn of Rock Island, Illinois
one granddaughter, Michele Hester of Walnut Hill, Illinois
one grandson, Rodney Crum of LaHarpe
two great-grandchildren Bailey and Brant Hester.
And several nieces and nephews.
In addition to his wife he was preceded by two brothers, Andrew and Paul Crum.
John the Worker
John Crum was a man who worked hard. He took pride in what he did and pursued his work with diligence and excellence. John wanted his gates secure and his fence posts square. He loved the farm and everything associated with it.
During his years on the farm, he raised hogs for awhile, Angus Cattle, Corn, Beans, and some Oats. John was known as an excellent livestock man. He always had a few animals penned up that he was giving extra attention to. There was always something to do and John was always eager to do it.
John loved all his farm work and also liked working in the garden with Harriet. One thing you were always sure of: You wouldn’t find any weeds in their garden!
He wanted things in order. He didn’t like to be interrupted when he was working and he didn’t like things that weren’t “just right” In fact when he was in the hospital he got upset because as he lay in bed he was not “square with the bed”.
John took care of his equipment and lived by the adage, “Neither a borrower or a lender be.” It wasn’t that John wouldn’t lend you something if you needed it . . . but you had better take care of it and return it as soon as you were done!
The Family Man
John wasn’t involved in a lot of groups. Fact is, he didn’t have time. But he did always make time for his family. John and Harriet enjoyed their life together. They were companions and friends. For these last several years John was Harriet’s ears and Harriet was John’s eyes.
I don’t think it is coincidence that John died so soon after Harriet’s death. There were times when I was sure that John kept fighting his own problems because of Harriet. When she died he lost much of his determination. Heaven now held another attraction for him.
I think one of the favorite things about life for John was being able to work day after day with his son and grandson. People like to remark how much fun it was to watch John and Roger debate what should be done on the farm. Since both of them was always right (a Crum trait, I’m told) they would often reach a stalemate when they disagreed about how or where to put a certain gate or fence.
John’s relationship with his Son, grandchildren and Great-grandchildren was certainly the joy of his life. He would occasionally take the kids fishing and always made time to see them in their 4H endeavors. Even a few weeks ago John was down on the floor to play with his great-grandchildren.
Some of the fondest memories are of John’s playful side. John had a sense of humor on the dry side. From the very early days of his life John liked to have fun. When he was younger his brother Bob would follow him around. John got tired of that and locked Bob in the grain bin. I should point out though that John left him some tools so that he could work on getting out! When John and his brothers got together they would all have their stories to tell. Not surprisingly, they all seemed to remember things differently.
Once when their parents were gone the boys discovered a bulldozer that had been left in the barn lot by a road crew. The boys thought it would be fun to take it for “a spin.” Unfortunately, even though they got the thing going, they didn’t quite know how to get it stopped. So they put the blade down and ran it into an embankment which stalled the engine. Of course, the next day they were as baffled as everyone else as to how that Bulldozer ended up on that road . . . and they had no explanation at all for all the tracks in the lot.
John used to say that he was the same height as Harriet when then got married. He just was shrinking faster than Harriet.
Once John made Michelle a wooden doll called “Splinters” because she kept saying she wanted a doll. He taught Michelle how to drive a stick shift and laughed until he almost cried when Michelle and Karen took the mini-bike and tipped over in the yard.
Michelle always had a special place in Grandpa’s heart. He couldn’t say no to her. In fact, the reason John had his dog “Cookie” was because of Michelle.
The dog had been abandoned and so Michelle and her dad picked it up. Since they couldn’t keep the dog, Michelle had to cry and beg but got Grandma and Grandpa to take the dog. And “Cookie” became a constant companion for John and one of the joys of his life.
Karen was not a grand-daughter but could have been. John once took Karen to the Mule Festival in Kahoka. And Oh, how he loved to tease her. Since Karen as a city girl didn’t understand the difference between supper and dinner, John was always giving her a hard time. He played on her innocence when he encouraged her to take a drink of the sulphur laden well water. And when Karen hit one of those milestone birthdays she got an unsigned “old woman” card in the mail two years in a row. They were from John.
Once John took Karen and her friend Chris out fishing. They had a date that night but thought it would be fun. They kept reminding John about their date but he was unconcerned. They left later than they should have to get home in time for the date. John drove 35 mph all the way home! The girls were late for their date.
Rodney worked side by side with Grandpa. He wanted to be like grandpa even to the point of leaving his hair a little longer so it would curl from under the cap like Grandpa’s did!
John liked his chewing tobacco (even though he would only chew a little at a time and never spit it out) He also liked his “Swisher Sheets” Cigars. He liked to say “You can smoke them or chew them.” He did both.
Naturally, Rodney thought this would be a good thing to do as well. He’d buy some cigars and then chew them up.
John mentioned to Marge once that she should check her bill from the Disco store carefully. The reason was because Rodney had learned from Grandpa to just come into the store, get what he wanted, and then tell them to “put it on our bill”.
Again, it meant so much to John to be able to share his love for farming with Rodney. Working side by side so often was a great joy for this Grandfather.
A Strong and Faithful Man
John Crum wasn’t very big but he was a strong man. He had two heart attacks, open heart surgery, a hip replacement and prostate cancer. Even with all these physical aliments John kept going. He surprised Doctors with all he was able to keep doing. Even after the two heart attacks John was still out doing chores! You see for John, life wasn’t worth much if he couldn’t do the things he loved doing.
Even his eye problems didn’t stop him from doing what he could. He would sometimes drive the truck or tractor for Roger. When they were moving vehicles he would follow Roger. He couldn’t see very well but he knew that he had to stop when Roger stopped and it was safe to turn when Roger turned. It wasn’t the safest thing to do . . . but it did allow John to continue doing what he loved.
John Crum was a faithful man. Often he wouldn’t get to church because of his work. But, even when he didn’t make it to worship, he always supported the church financially and in any other ways he could. When he and Harriet moved to LaHarpe John was in church regularly. He had a quiet but solid faith.
In the hospital John said on several occasions that going up to the fifth floor was another step closer to Heaven. He knew he was dying. And he was ready to die. He was a man who’s faith was anchored and he was not afraid.
There are lots of other snapshots we can present of John,
- the way he enjoyed jigsaw puzzles
- the way he always knew his directions
- the way he always drove slow
- his first plane ride with Carol
- “Jeepers Creepers”
- and a whole truckload of wonderful memories.
To you his family I can only say, “You did right by John.” You walked him to the door of eternity. You gave him strength and you surrounded him with love. May all family relationships be as yours has been.
John Crum taught us many things
- That we should work hard and well in everything we do. Because we honor God in our labors.
- We should cherish and make time for family even in hectic times
- We must keep going in spite of obstacles and setbacks.
- We should have a little fun along the journey of life
- When it is time to go home we should face eternity with the confidence that comes from a faith that is anchored in Christ.
John Crum was not a flashy man. He wasn’t the kind of man who would be comfortable in the spotlight. He was a common man with an uncommon character. And anyone who knew John was enriched and inspired.
In the Bible we read this story,
Holy Bible, New Living Translation
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, the one you love is very sick.”
But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it is for the glory of God. I, the Son of God, will receive glory from this.” Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days and did not go to them. Finally after two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”
Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, that means he is getting better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was having a good night’s rest, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
Then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sake, I am glad I wasn’t there, because this will give you another opportunity to believe in me. Come, let’s go see him.”
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to pay their respects and console Martha and Mary on their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
“Yes,” Martha said, “when everyone else rises, on resurrection day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish. Do you believe this, Martha?”
This is a somewhat familiar account and I draw your attention to three things that I think you will find helpful as we think about John Crum and the circumstances surrounding his death.
First, God has a reason for the things that happen. Jesus deliberately didn’t go and heal Lazarus . . . even though he could have. Jesus waited until He knew that Lazarus was dead before he went to Bethany. Jesus said this circumstance was going to bring glory to God.
Does that strike you as odd? Of course it does. And It is easier for us to understand why Jesus delayed because we know that Jesus intended to show people that he had the power to give life beyond the grave. Obviously he couldn’t do that until Lazarus had died.
The second thing I want you to see from this is that many people don’t understand God’s methods. Mary and Martha were upset with Jesus because he delayed. They said, “Lord, if you had been there he would not have died.” They didn’t understand why Jesus healed other people but did not come and heal his friend.
The fact is, there are a lot of things that happen in life that are confusing. There are times when God seems detached, and unsympathetic.
The third thing I want you to see is that God ‘s purposes and ends far exceed anything we imagined. Mary and Martha were upset because Lazarus had died. We understand their disappointment with Jesus. But they had no idea what God was planning to do. They had no idea that the Lord was about to use His friend to show everyone that the Lord of Life was also Lord of eternity.
Jesus told Martha “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. 26They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish.
Jesus delayed with Lazarus because He wanted to teach people about life beyond the grave. Mary and Martha didn’t understand His words at the time . . . but they never forgot them after He brought Lazarus back from the grave.
From this point on they knew that Jesus had the power over life and death. And when Christ Himself rose from the dead they understood that the salvation He came to bring was far greater than what they had dared to hope.
I hope you can see some relevance to these points
• God has His reasons for the things that happen
• People often don’t understand these reasons
• But, God’s purpose is far superior to anything we could hope for.
For months you and I prayed that John would get better. We prayed that God would take away the pain. We prayed that God would lead Doctors to find the source of his pain so something could be done about it. And God seemed silent.
At times there was frustration . . . on our part and on Johns. And to be honest, I still don’t understand why God chose the path He chose.
But this I do know John is now enjoying a life and existence that is far superior to anything we could have hoped for. Today he is reunited with his wife. His vision is clear, his heart is strong. Today John knows no pain, there are no tears or frustrations. Today John is with Jesus. Today he understands and he smiles.
How do I know? I know because Jesus rose from the dead and because he raised his friend, Lazarus from the dead too.
There is one final part of the story that is important for us to see. Jesus asks Martha, “Do you Believe This?” This was the key point in the discussion and it is the key point for us.
This is the question that you and I are faced with today. Do we believe the gospel message? Do you believe that there is a reason to God’s methods and that there is life beyond the grave?
If you don’t believe this, then this is a day of great sadness. This is the end. But if you do believe this, then you will see this day not as an end for John Crum . . . you see it as a time of transition . . . a new chapter, a glorious victory.
It could be that the reason you are here today is because this is your moment to confront the ultimate question of life? Who do you follow? Where are you heading? Who do you trust?
John Crum settled that issue long ago. His burden has been lifted. The Bible says, “Whoever lives and believes in me will live even though he die.” John Crum lives on. Will you?