Reva Cagle

We gather this morning to remember, celebrate, and give thanks for the life of Reva Kay Cagle.  To comfort us in our loss and to give us perspective in our time of sorrow I invite you to turn to the Word of God.

David wrote,

God is our refuge and our strength a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Hebrews 4: 15,16

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.

Isaiah wrote,

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.  (Isaiah 40)

Please 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 and celebrate the life of Reva Cagle.  Help us to remember and strengthen our hope.  We ask these things in the name of Christ. Amen.

Reva Cagle was born August 14, 1940 in LaHarpe to Julia and Bonnie Bellville Bundy. She was one of 15 children born to the Bundys.  She was raised and attended school in LaHarpe.  The Bundy family didn’t have much as they were growing up (it’s hard to have lots when you have a family their size), but they did have each other.  Reva grew up enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

Most of her working life Reva was a housekeeper.  At times it seemed like “she lived to clean”.  She not only cleaned by vocation, she loved to clean her house and had a car that was cleaner than normal people should have.

Reva was very close to her daughter, Carla.  She moved to Alabama to be with her daughter and then moved back to Fountain Green to be with her daughter again around eight years ago.  She lived next door to Carla and in April of this year, she moved in with her when her cancer began to limit her life.

She is survived by,

Her daughter, Carla White of Fountain Green

Two Grandchildren; Natalie Britt and Michael Link

Three Great-Grandchildren and one on the way

Four sisters:

Patty Runyon of Quincy; Juanita Oats and Cheryl Pence of LaHarpe and Sue Parker of Alabama

Six Brothers:

Vernon Bundy of LaHarpe, Joe Bundy of Blandinsville, Tim Bundy of Jacksonville Il; and Ronald Bundy of Burnside,

She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Reva was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers and two sisters.

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Reva Cagle was not a flashy woman.  She didn’t belong to clubs.  She worked hard, she paid her bills, and loved her family. Her only real public activity other than her jobs was her bowling.  I have the feeling she bowled not so much because she wanted to compete but because she enjoyed doing something.  She just liked people.

Reva was a person who always wanted to be busy doing something.  There was always something that needed to be cleaned or some yard work that needed to be done. When someone from the family was going some place or going to do something she was always eager to go along with them.   She enjoyed going over the Cheryl’s to watch the races, not so much because she liked NASCAR but because she enjoyed the company.  She enjoyed going places to eat and she especially liked going shopping.  She enjoyed buying toys for her Great-Grandchildren.  She had trouble passing up anything that had to do with butterflies.

She didn’t have much as she was growing up but she never went hungry.  She never felt deprived.  When she had a little money later in life she enjoyed buying things for others.

She cherished her little dogs: Squirt and Little Bit.  She used to take Squirt in to the Nursing home to brighten the day of the residents there.  In her free time she enjoyed doing Word Search puzzles.

The light of her life seemed to be her Great Grandchildren.  She enjoyed babysitting and loved playing with the kids.  If she had one regret it would probably be that she didn’t get to see if Paul and Natalie were going to have a baby girl.  She would have had fun buying clothes for a Great-Grand-Daughter!

I’m told Reva was often quiet in a crowd.  Some may have concluded that she was anti-social. That wasn’t the case.  She simply had trouble hearing when a lot of people were talking. One-on-one she loved to visit.  She enjoyed (most of the time) the teasing and flirting from Rich and from Paul.

Reva fought hard against the cancer that eventually took her life.  I suspect as she reached the end of last week most of the fight was gone.  She was ready for the pain to be over even though she desperately wanted to hold on to those she loved.

Let’s face it, there is nothing fun about a funeral.  As we gather today our hearts are heavy.  You are never ready to let go of the people you love.  It doesn’t matter how much you expected death or how prepared you thought you were, you are never ready to let go of someone you love.

I want to share a couple of things today.  First, I want you to know that grief is normal.  It’s ok to cry.  It’s normal to be angry.  It’s appropriate to be numb and perhaps feel nothing.  When you love someone, it hurts to lose him or her.  When you love someone sometimes you care so much that you physically can’t comprehend the loss, so your system shuts down for a while.  You get numb.  This is God’s way of helping us cope.

In the Bible we read examples of people who grieved. When King David’s infant son was dying, he fasted, prayed, and pleaded with God to save the child’s life.  But the child died.  When his older son died he wept loudly.  Abraham mourned for his wife Sarah.  Jeremiah wept over the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus his friend.  Tears are appropriate.  Author Max Lucado writes,

Tears.

Those tiny drops of humanity. Those round, wet balls of fluid that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks, and splash on the floor of our hearts. They are always present at such times. They should be, that’s their job. They are miniature messengers; on call twenty-four hours a day to substitute for crippled words. They drip, drop, and pour from the corner of our souls, carrying with them the deepest emotions we possess. They tumble down our faces with announcements that range from the most blissful joy to darkest despair.

The principle is simple; when words are most empty, tears are most apt.

A tearstain on a letter says much more than the sum of all its words. A tear falling on a casket says what a spoken farewell never could. What summons a mother’s compassion and concern more quickly than a tear on a child’s cheek? What gives more support than a sympathetic tear on the face of a friend?

That task, my friend, was left for the tears.

                  (Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior.)

 Grief is normal and appropriate.  Tears are fitting. Do not be embarrassed by your grief . . . it testifies to your love.

There is a second thing I need to say to you: there is more to life than what we see.

In some respects, it’s easy to dismiss the whole notion of life beyond the grave as something we need to say in order to get through the hard times.  But I don’t think eternity is an illusion.  The greatest piece of evidence for life beyond the grave is the Resurrection of Jesus. The factual nature of this event is overwhelming.  The facts detail the reality of His death. The tomb was empty even though it was put under guard.  People saw Jesus alive for weeks after His death.  Those who saw Him were transformed and emboldened by their encounter.  There has been no fact more examined over the centuries than the Resurrection, and no one can give any evidence that Jesus did not rise from the grave.  All of the evidence points in the other direction.

So, If Jesus rose from the dead then there must be life beyond the grave.  If He rose from the grave, then He should be the One we listen to and follow.  If Jesus rose from the dead, then we can have hope even in the midst of our own sadness and grief.

Jesus said, “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?”  (John 11)

This is a significant statement. When Jesus said this, He was talking to his dear friends, Mary and Martha at the funeral of their brother, Lazarus.  There are three key points in these words that you need to hear today.  First, notice the promise:  “He who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  Jesus says there is life beyond the grave.  At another time Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you so that you may be where I am.”

The Bible’s teaching is consistent.  Death is not the end.  There is an existence and life that extends beyond the grave.  It is a life that makes this life seem like only a moment. There are two possible destinations: Heaven and Hell. The life called Heaven is described in the Bible as a time and place filled with unimagined joy and the elimination of all that is evil or painful.  We are told “God will wipe away every tear from their eye.”

Practically, this means that though we grieve for Reva, we are really grieving for ourselves.  We grieve for our loss, not hers.  She has been delivered from her suffering.  She has entered into eternity.  We say she has “gone” but in reality, she has simply “gone on”. She can see, hear, and feel like she never has before.

Second, notice the condition of the promise, “He who believes in me.”  There are two common views about Heaven.  One view seems to say that everyone who dies goes to Heaven . . . . .except maybe the really really bad people.  The other view says that those people who live good lives go to Heaven.  The Bible says neither is true.

The Bible tells us that none of us have lived good enough lives to earn Heaven.  Heaven is for those who are holy and none of us meet that requirement.  Even the best of us sin . . . and that with great regularity.  Think about it, even if we only sinned (did what was wrong in God’s eyes either in thought, word, or deed) three times a day (which would be a staggeringly very good day for most of us), that would be 21 times a week . . . almost a thousand times a year!  By the end of our lives we would have committed tens of thousands of sins. Our sin-debt is greater than we could ever hope to pay.  We don’t even come close to the goodness required for Heaven.

That’s where Jesus comes on the scene. The Bible tells us that Jesus died to pay for the sin we have committed.  The only condition is that we are truly sorry for our wrong-doing and that we are willing to put our hope and confidence in Him. The Bible is clear, only those who sincerely and truly trust Jesus Christ will be granted Heaven.  For the Christian, death is not the end of the story; it is merely the end of the introduction to the story.  Death is meant to be a time of transition.  It is designed by God to lead to a time of new life, reunion and celebration.

I didn’t know Reva.  I don’t know how she felt about God or what she believed about Christ.  I don’t know why she never became involved in a church. What I do know is that if she had any sincere trust in Him, she is enjoying the blessing of Heaven today.  I know if she cried out to Him (even in the last weeks of her life) and asked Him to cleanse and forgive her . . . she can claim the promise of the thief on the cross next to Jesus that “today she is in paradise”.

Finally, note the important question that Jesus asked.  “Do you believe this?”  He had basically told them what I have just told you.  The question He presented is the same one that is before us: will you believe the promise of God or won’t you?  Will you run to Him or will you walk away? Will this time of sadness draw you closer to God or push you away? Will you hold on to the promise and the way of Christ or will you go your own way?  One way leads to emptiness and despair; the other leads to hope and new life.

Your loss is still going to hurt.  Reva is still gone. That fact is painful. However, whether you grieve with a sense of hope or with a sense of despair is dependent on how you respond to the Lord.  His arms are open.  I pray you will run to Him.

So, I encourage you to remember.  Share your stories about Reva.  Laugh about the fun times, and the silly times.  Celebrate the things she taught you and how much she meant to you.  Remember her well. Think about her every time you see a butterfly. Celebrate her life and grieve for your loss.

But as you do these things seek the Lord.  Read through God’s promises in the Bible.  Learn about Him through the church.  Dare to believe His promise that those who trust in Him will “live even though they die”.  You may think you are not a “church-going type”.  I assure you that if you turn to the Lord; He will not turn you away.  There will be difficult days ahead.  But those difficult days don’t have to defeat  you. It is my prayer that the hope of eternal life will energize your life.  It’s my prayer that God’s wonderful comfort will keep you secure and help you to stand even in this time of sadness and loss.

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Let’s pray.

Gracious Father, you are the author of life.  You are the one who brought Reva Cagle into the world.  Thank you for her life.  Thank you for the things she taught us.  Thank you for the love she extended.

We confess that as you brought Reva into the world, so you are the one who has called her 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.  Help them to learn the lessons that Reva taught through her life. Grant them the comfort that can come only through  you.   We ask all these things in Jesus name.  Amen.