We assemble here this afternoon to do something difficult: say good-bye to Rose Collins. We also gather to do something wonderful: we get to celebrate her life, her faith, and our confidence in life beyond the grave.
The Word of God reminds us,
For we know that when this tent we live in—our body here on earth—is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last for ever. 2And now we sigh, so great is our desire that our home which comes from heaven should be put on over us; 3by being clothed with it we shall not be without a body. 4 While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body, but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be transformed by life. [2 Corinthians 5:1-4 TEV]
Rose had a time of groaning as she waited for her eternal reward. She was ready to “go home”. But throughout the years of cancer and cancer treatments Rose could have said with the Apostle Paul,
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
It is with this same hope and confidence of life beyond the grave that we approach this time of remembrance. Though aching from loss, we hold on with hope to that which is unseen and eternal.
Please pray with me,
Gracious Father, we feel so fortunate to have been blessed by the life of Rose Collins. She had a wonderful way of making us all feel special and loved. She reflected You to us through her life.
We confess that we wonder why Rose got cancer. Yet, we know that you have a plan that we do not see. We know that Rose’s death is a victory, not a defeat. We know that she was able to teach us things by the way she died that we would have never learned otherwise. But still we ache and we wonder. Help us in our confusion.
Father, we pray that you would help us to celebrate Rose’s life during this time, even though it can never do justice to the person she was. Even more importantly, use this time to stir up in us a deeper faith. Help us to lay firm hold to the promises that you have given to us. Help us in the midst of sadness, to know true and living hope. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
Rose E. Collins, was born Feb. 2, 1951, in Monmouth, Ill., she was the daughter of Marion and Rosie Bundy Shaver. On July 21, 1968, she married Claude Collins in Abingdon, Ill. They met because they saw each other all the time as Claude traveled to work each day. They were married in the living room of the Pastor in Abingdom.
Rose worked at Lamont Limited in Burlington for a few years and at the former LaHarpe Hospital. She cleaned the homes of many people in the La Harpe and Blandinsville communities.
Rose served as a Brownie Girl Scout Leader, was a member of the LaHarpe Senior Citizens, a past member of the American Legion Auxilary and an active member of the Union Church of La Harpe.
Rose was just 57 when she died on Tuesday June 3rd at her home after a long battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Claude ; her mother; two daughters: Betty Peterson of Burlington and Juliana (Karl) Thompson of Lomax, Illinois, one son William (Bobbi) Collins of Carthage, Illinois, eleven grandchildren, Hannah, Hailey, Collin and Caleb Peterson, Shelby, Dugan, Dalton and Daniel Thompson, Brooke, Cleesen and Denise Hathaway, two sisters, Lois Johnson of Monmouth, Illinois and Bessie Ladwig of Abingdon, Illinois, one brother, Raymond Shaver of Anamosa, Iowa and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her father, one sister, Marian Harms and one brother, Marion Louis Shaver Jr.
Rose Collins was a woman that lots of people knew, even if they didn’t know her. She was the lady who was always walking somewhere. She would walk out to the grocery store, she would walk into town from the country, she would walk to various homes to clean, she would walk to visit people, and at times she just walked to walk. Rose sometimes drove to work with Claude in the morning and then walked from the University out to Wal-Mart (often with the kids) and then back. She walked rain or shine. When the kids protested that it was raining she responded, “a little rain isn’t going to hurt you. Put your shoes on and let’s go.” Even if people didn’t know who she was, they had seen her out walking.
Rose was never serious about driving a car. She tried a couple of times but always got too nervous when she met another car in traffic. One night she was just moving the car from one spot to another and she ran a police officer off the road because she got so nervous. When she tried to back up it seemed she inevitably ran over a mailbox! She learned to love walking.
Rose was a hard worker. She enjoyed cleaning homes and people enjoyed having her clean their homes. Rose became friends with all the people she worked for over the years. Truth is that Rose was friendly with anyone who gave her a chance.
Rose was really quite a remarkable woman. She loved life. It seemed like she always had a big smile (even though it made her seem older after she lost her teeth). She enjoyed planting a huge garden (she really liked cucumbers). She enjoyed going “country cruisin” at night which meant driving around with Claude and the kids at night. She enjoyed going camping with the family at Starved Rock, loved picnics and any family gatherings. Rose felt the family relationship should be respected and nurtured. Rose savored life.
Rose worked hard to teach her kids solid values . . . they didn’t always make it easy for her. Every Saturday morning Rose and the kids cleaned their own the home. The T.V. could not be turned on until the house was clean. So, for four hours the kids worked to clean the house, all the time they had to listen to country music (especially Johnny Cash) turned up nice and loud so they could hear it all over the house. As the kids look back they don’t know which was worse, the cleaning, or the music! Bill tried destroying the needle on the record player but Rose just went and got a new one.
Rose loved her country music. She always watched the Mandrell Sisters, Hee Haw, Johnny Cash, and enjoyed Westerns. When the kids protested that they didn’t want to watch these things Rose responded, “You have two choices: watch TV with us, or go to bed.”
Rose actually had the chance to see Johnny Cash (her favorite) once. Claude purchased tickets. Rose babysat during the day of the concert and was really looking forward to the hearing Johnny Cash. Unfortunately, the mother of the child was several hours late coming home so Rose never made it to her concert.
I find it amusing that with all the complaining they did about mom’s Country music; the three kinds now have Country Music ringtones on their phones!
Rose was the disciplinarian around the house. Claude only pretended to spank the kids. He would take them into the other room, swat a pillow while he whispered to the kids to pretend to cry. That never happened with Rose. When the kids misbehaved Rose told them to go out and get a switch and bring it inside. Bill always brought in the smallest switch he could find and Rose would go find the biggest. Bill had a habit of running from his mom all through the house. Claude wasn’t much help. He’d watch the race and yell, “You better run boy! She’s gonna catch you.” Bill reports that no matter how long he ran, when he was tired his mom still had energy and always got him in the end. . . . It must have been all that walking!
One time, Bill was running through the house and tripped and hit his head on the bathroom sink. Rose was terrified that he was hurt and asked him with tears in her eyes, if he was ok. When he said, “Yes,” she said, “Then roll over and take your lickin.”
When the kids had a sore throat she gave them a little whiskey or a mixture of tea and whiskey. When they had a cut she always put iodine on it. She did her best for her children.
Rose enjoyed cooking. She learned a lot from Claude’s mom. She made a great Lasagna but never did get the hang of making homemade noodles. Her noodles always came out looking a little like dumplings. The kids always got their food first.
Rose loved taking care of people. She had a big heart. The kids would tell you that she babied Claude. Rose always fixed Claude’s plate (and Bill’s) at meal time. She even cut his toenails. Claude would say she was just loving him . . . .she would agree.
One time there was an explosion at the Ordinance Plant and Claude decided to go Coon hunting after work. In fairness, he knew nothing about the explosion. All night Rose and her friend Judy fretted about their husbands. When they came home the next morning . . . neither of the ladies was in a very good mood.
One day . . . Claude and Clyde were out doing something and when Clyde came in the door Rose ran up and gave him a big hug and kiss . . . she claimed she thought he was Claude!!!! She was quite embarrassed.
Rose loved being a Grandmother perhaps even more than she did being a mom. In fact, the most difficult part of the cancer was the thought of having to leave the Grandchildren. She would do anything for them. We’ve all seen Rose and Julianna walking around town pushing a stroller. She adored her Grandchildren and was proud of all of them.
Rose was a supportive wife and mother. When the kids made mistakes, Rose was there to help them start over. When they were going through hard times, she was there to help. When Bill went into the service Rose found it very hard to sign the papers to let him go. However, when he graduated boot camp she was the proudest mother at the graduation. When Bill was injured in Germany Rose called him every day of the couple of months he was in the hospital.
Through good and bad Rose loved Claude. She believed that when you love somebody you stick by them. In these last few years Claude returned the favor. He stood by Rose’s side through the treatments and the progression of her cancer. Seeing the two of them together, Claude with his arm around Rose, was a great testimony to the triumph of love. Claude was by her side to the end.
Rose cherished her friends and was intensely loyal. Gifts she received became her cherished treasures. Rose had hundreds of owls and angels she had collected over the years. She even had an owl necklace that she sometimes wore. Many of them had stories attached to them. If you were Rose’s friend, she was your friend for life.
Rose had a remarkable spirit. She had a deep faith that she worked hard to apply in her daily living. It didn’t matter what someone might have done to her, she always worked to forgive. Rose believed everyone makes mistakes and deserves a chance (sometimes many chances) to start over. At times when others would have written someone off, Rose worked harder to love them. Rose didn’t care what other people said. She felt God was clear: she was to love all people. She was a truly remarkable woman in her attitude.
When Rose found out she had cancer she could have turned bitter. However, she remained confident that God would either heal her or that He had something better for her. She believed that true faith is not based on circumstances but on the character and promise of God.
One of the highlights of Rose’s life actually took place after she started taking treatments. Claude took Rose on a trip to Montana. It was a trip of a lifetime for her. She loved everything about the trip and would have gone again in a heartbeat. You couldn’t talk to her long about her life without hearing about this trip.
The truth is that Rose was one of the most content people I’ve ever met. She was grateful for all she had been given and treated all people the same. Even when she herself was confined to bed and dying she remained concerned about the person who had come to visit her. Those who came to minister to Rose often left feeling they were the ones who were on the receiving end of the ministry.
It is difficult for us to understand why Rose had cancer. We certainly don’t understand the nature/causes of the disease or the mind and plan of God. What we do know and what we hold on to today is the fact that we were richly blessed by Rose Collins. Because of her faith and her faithfulness, we know she has not finished her life . . . in a very real sense, it has only just begun. We thank God for her life even as we commend her to His care.
As he neared the end of his life, the Apostle Paul wrote these words:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (1 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV)
These are words that not many people can say with a great deal of confidence, but Rose Collins could. Rose could proudly state that she too had finished strong.
Rose fought the good fight. When she was diagnosed with cancer she endured the treatments that were necessary and fought to maintain her strength. She continued to smile and give of herself to others. She was unwilling to let the cancer rob her of the joy of living. Rose fought the good fight.
She also finished the race. Rose had an endurance that put many of us to shame. Even when she was exhausted from the fight, she made every effort to do the things that she loved. She continued to enjoy her children and grandchildren. She continued to walk for as long as she was able. At one point when I came to visit, she suggested that she should make a lasagna for me and my family! Just like a long distance runner, Rose was unwilling to quit before the race was over.
Finally, Rose kept the faith. Rose trusted God as much when she was sick as she did when she was healthy. She wasn’t scared of death—she wanted to be around to see her grandkids grow up, and didn’t particularly want to die, but she understood that God was in control and would continue to care for her family even when she could no longer do so. She held firmly to her trust in Christ to the very end. Every time we’d visit, before I would leave, she’d remind me, “Rick, I haven’t lost my faith.” It is because of that fact I have confidence of where Rose is today.
Over the last several months, it was not uncommon to hear Rose talk about what she was going to do if she got better. She talked about visiting Montana once more, about going for walks, about eating up at the restaurant, and about coming back to church. On the surface, it would appear that Rose was in denial about her illness, but I don’t believe that was the case. Rose believed that God was in control of her situation, and that if He wanted to, he could heal the cancer in her body and restore her to health. She also recognized that He may choose not to heal her. Rose believed that God could heal her, but her faith in Christ would not be shaken if he did not. Rose’s attitude reminds me of the attitude we see in an old Bible story.
In the Book of Daniel we read about three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were told that they would be thrown into a fiery furnace if they did not renounce their faith, and as they were presented with this challenge to their faith, this was their response,
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV)
In talking with Rose, I got the impression that she had the exact same attitude. She believed that God was able to heal her, but even if he did not, that would not cause her to doubt Him.
There is a great deal that we can learn from Rose’s life and attitude—not just the way she lived at the end of her life, but the consistency with which she lived her whole life.
We’d do well to remember, as Rose did, that the people in our lives who annoy us and seem to get on our nerves deserved to be loved too.
- We’d do well to remember that family is a blessing to be cherished. The members of Rose’s family didn’t always behave in exactly the way she would have liked, but that didn’t mean that she ever gave up on them or stopped loving them.
- We’d do well to remember that hard work is not something to be afraid of, but rather that hard work done well is something to be proud of.
- We’d do well to remember that even when life gets tough, it’s still worth living with gusto.
- We’d also do well to remember that faith is not something that we only think about when we go to church, but that it should be the very bedrock of our lives and the source of our hope.
Rose’s life can teach us many lessons, and I hope that as you reflect on the life she lived, you will look at your own life and seek to apply these lessons.
Today we mourn because we miss Rose. We will miss seeing her walking around, we will miss her lasagna, we will miss her warm and inviting spirit. We mourn for all sorts of reasons, but frankly all of them have to do with us. Today we do not mourn for Rose, because we have confidence that she has finally “gone home.” One of Rose’s dearest friends, Barbara (Smiddy) Herrera, wrote a poem that I think captures this truth.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of His saints” we are told
Bought with a price – the Blood of the Lamb
More precious than silver or gold.
Full payment was made – Our Atonement for sin
God’s gift of salvation to man…
By the Shedding of Blood
On Calvary’s Tree
Man’s Entrance to Heaven Began.
Yes, each Saint IS precious
In death to our Lord..
Our Savior has ransomed us all!
With arms open wide, to forever abide-
We Welcome eternity’s call.
Love You Rose- Barbara
We know that God has finally healed Rose and that she no longer has to deal with the pain of cancer and the weakness that accompanied it. We rejoice that she is home, but we mourn because her death leaves a void in the lives of those of us who continue living.
In many ways I picture heaven like a family reunion, a chance when all the members of God’s family who we haven’t seen in a long time get together once again. Rose always looked forward to the family reunions she had while here on earth, and how much greater the reunion she has now experienced in heaven.
The Bible tells us that we can have confidence that we can be reunited with her again in heaven. We have this confidence because Jesus himself promised us this in John chapter 14,
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 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. 3 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. (John 14:1-3, NIV)
Jesus said that he will prepare a place for us in heaven. The question is, what do we need to do to get there? Fortunately for us, the disciples asked the same question. Here was Jesus’ response.
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:16, NIV)
Jesus tells us that the way to heaven is through him, and him alone. Rose understood this, and I hope that you do too.
Rose was a wonderful person who lived her life well, but that is not the reason that she is in heaven today. She is home because she trusted Jesus Christ to save her, and she lived her life for Him. Jesus’ promises apply to each of us, just as they did to Rose.
What happens to us when we die is not dependent on whether we are good people or not. The Bible says that none of us is good enough to deserve heaven. No matter what skeletons lurk in your closet, Jesus’ promises can apply to you. If you will turn from your selfish ways, seek His forgiveness and new life, take him at his word and believe that he has prepared a place for you, and then follow Him as Rose did, then you too will join in the reunion of heaven with Rose.
I hope that you learn many lessons from the life of Rose Collins—I know that I have—but if there is one lesson that I pray you learn, it is that you can have confidence that you can live even though you die. If there is one truth she would want to impress upon you it is this: You can trust the Lord. If we will learn that lesson, then we can look forward to the great family reunion after we die. And if you share Rose’s hope in Christ, then today we aren’t really saying goodbye, but rather, “We’ll see you at home”.
Will you pray with me?
Father, we thank you for the life that Rose Collins lived. We thank you for the example that she was to each of us. Lord, we recognize that Rose wasn’t perfect—none of us are—but we thank you for your promise of forgiveness. We thank you that because of what you have done, she is now at home, and she suffers no more.
Lord, please help us today as we grieve. In many ways it’s comforting for us to remember that Rose is with you, but at the same time, it’s difficult to realize that we will not see her again in this life. I pray for this family. They have depended on Rose in so many ways. Help them to fill the huge hole left in their lives. Especially comfort Claude with warm memories. Deepen his faith and help him to find strength in You. Father, we already miss Rose; help us as we grieve. Give us the strength we need to carry on. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.