Marnelle Knight

We are gathered here today to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Marnelle Knight. Today we seek to gain an eternal perspective to help us as we grieve.

In the Bible we read these words,

“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. You know the way to the place where I am going.…Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.”

The Bible tells us that there is life beyond the grave, and that through Jesus we can experience a life that is much better than what we have faced on this earth. That is our hope today. Will you pray with me?

Lord, we come to you alone in a time of loss and grief because we know that you alone can give lasting comfort and hope. Father, we thank you for Marnelle’s life and her spirit. Help us this morning as we grieve, and comfort us with your promises of what lies beyond the grave. We pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mrs. Marnelle Knight was born in Carthage on March 29, 1917, the daughter of Harvey and Pearle Byers Sights. On June 12, 1965 she married Harold Knight in Oak Lawn, Illinois. He preceded her in death on February 16, 2006.

She worked as a bookkeeper for the Stevens Hotel in Chicago and for the postal service. She moved from the Chicago area to LaHarpe in the mid 1970’s. In 2004 she moved to the Hancock County Nursing Home in Carthage. She enjoyed taking pictures and reading.

Marnelle passed away Tuesday, March 17, 2009 at the Memorial Hospital in Carthage.

She is survived by one son, Gerald Hundley, of Hutsonville, Illinois, one grandson, and her good friend, Mary Lou Kubes of Cicero, Illinois. She was preceded in death by her husband and her parents.

It has been interesting the last couple of days to learn about Marnelle. Though she lived nearby when I was growing up, I don’t believe that we had ever met each other. From what I have learned in the past couple of days, I missed out on knowing a caring woman who was full of great stories.

Marnelle spent much of her life up near Chicago, where she worked as a bookkeeper. For a while she worked for the historic Stevens Hotel (now the Chicago Hilton and Towers) in downtown Chicago. She had many stories and some memorabilia from her time at this historic Chicago landmark.

Marnelle loved to tell stories—and she had several very interesting stories to tell. Take the story of how she met Harold. She and Harold met at a gun club in Oak Lawn. She wanted to join the club, but many of the members objected to allowing a woman to join. As a result, Harold was appointed to break the news to her that she could not be a member, but could shoot at the club if she’d like. They began to date and several years later, they were married.

She loved the outdoors, especially fishing on Lake Michigan with Harold. She told the story that once, when fishing in Canada, she caught a large-mouth bass that was so big that she won an award and even had a story published about her in the local paper.

Marnelle loved taking pictures, and over the years, she had accumulated quite a collection of them. She was always happy to take the time to sit and show you some of her pictures, and of course tell you the stories behind them all.

When Marnelle and Harold moved to LaHarpe after Harold retired, she got involved in a few groups, but for the most part she preferred to stay at home. She loved to see the beautiful flowers in the garden, but let Harold do most of the gardening. Harold was very involved in the community, but Marnelle really preferred to stay in the background. She didn’t really seek out the spotlight.

Though Marnelle may not have sought the spotlight, those who knew her appreciated her caring personality and her excitement to share some of her unique experiences in life. We will certainly miss her.

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In many ways, it is sad when a person outlives most of their family and friends. In Marnelle’s case, the fact that she mostly kept to herself meant that there were a lot of her stories and experiences that we will never know. The fact is, though, that God knows Marnelle completely. In Psalm 139 we read,

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

God knows all about Marnelle. He knew her coming and her going. He knew her dreams, her fears, and her joys. He knew her insecurities, her regrets, and the things that brought a smile to her face.

We can be comforted by the fact that God knew Marnelle Knight better than she even knew herself. I honestly don’t know where Marnelle stood spiritually, but God does, so we entrust her to His informed and just judgment. What I can tell you for sure is that if she trusted in Jesus Christ to forgive her for her sins, then today she is in a place that is even better than we can imagine—if she has trusted Christ, she is in Heaven.

Some people question whether this is really true or not—whether we can trust the promises that Jesus made to us.

In any political campaign, candidates make all kinds of promises.  Often you hear people say, “You must look at his record if you want to know what he really believes”. It’s a pretty good guideline. We can apply this to Christ.

Anyone can say they can make us right with God. Anyone can tell you that if you believe in them, you will live even though you die. The reason I believe what Jesus promises is because of His record. He lived a life that was unlike anyone that has ever lived. He did things that were supernatural. He taught things that cut to the core of who we are as human beings. He loved people the rest of the world had already discarded.  When He was attacked he did not retaliate. He was brutally killed on trumped up charges yet as He hung on the cross He asked God to forgive those who had put Him there. He was a man like none other.

There have been other “good” people who lived on earth. But Jesus is different; He came back from the dead! He was seen by hundreds of people. He talked to the disciples, He ate with them. He convinced them that they were not hallucinating but were spending time with the Savior of the world. They believed it so much that they too were willing to give their lives rather than deny Him. In my studies I have become convinced that the evidence of His resurrection is solid and compelling. Over the years many sincere scholars have set out to disprove the Resurrection only to become one of His followers.

Jesus promised that those who put their trust and confidence in Him, those who are willing to follow Him in life will also follow Him in death and resurrection. Jesus said He would prepare a place for us. We can trust him, because he proved his words with his actions.

I don’t know what Marnelle’s beliefs were. I wish I did. However what I do know is that if she sincerely trusted Jesus Christ, then she is with Him in Heaven.

When she died she moved from

  • Death and decay to life and wholeness
  • From questions to answers
  • From separation to reunion
  • From wondering if God could love her to knowing that He does
  • From a temporary body to an imperishable body

Any time we mourn the loss of a friend or family member, we are reminded of the fact that our own lives are more fragile than we often think. There will come a day when each of us is going to die as well—and the question for us will be the same as it was for Marnelle; do we know God? Have we trusted Jesus? That is a question that we must each answer for ourselves.

The difficult part of the death of someone we love is not so much that they have gone—because we can be sure that there is life beyond the grave—but the fact that we remain. We are left to live our lives without the person we love. There will be moments where we are overcome with grief—where we are suddenly reminded of Marnelle’s absence. In those times, it is best to just remember. Think fondly of her stories, her pictures, and her caring nature. Trust in the fact that there is life beyond the grave; and that someday you may get to see her again.

Will you pray with me?

Gracious Father, we thank you for Marnelle Knight. Thank you for her spirit and for the stories and pictures she leaves behind. We thank you for the life she lived, and that her suffering in her earthly body is now over.

Lord, comfort us as we grieve. Remind us of your promises, and help us to rest in the knowledge that you know us better than we can know ourselves. For we pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.