We have gathered today to remember and give thanks for the life of Wayne Schroeder and to renew our hope in the promise of God through Jesus Christ that “He who believes in Him will live even though He dies.”
Jesus said to his followers,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-6)
The Apostle Paul reminds us,
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
Though this is a sad day because of loss, we find hope, confidence, and even a measure of joy as we cling to these promises of God. Please pray with me.
Father, we bow before you this afternoon and once again acknowledge and proclaim that this life is not all there is. Help to catch a glimpse beyond the shadows today. Give us perspective and hope in the time of grief for we ask it in Jesus name.
Wayne Schroeder was born in Olena, IL on September 19, 1915 the son of Oscar and Lenna Cavins Schroeder. He was active in the Raritan Reformed Church. He came to Christ at an early age.
He started school early because the teacher of the school lived with his family for a while and worked with Wayne. He was advanced enough that he started school early. He graduated from Media High School at the age of 16. He played football in High School. Because the school was small they had to play with only 9 people but they still were very successful.
Because times were hard Wayne and his brothers would sometimes have to take turns missing school so they could help in the harvest. Since Wayne was the best of the students he missed a little more than his brothers. Wayne had to borrow money from the Superintendent in order to pay for the gas to get back and forth to school. After graduation he worked until he could pay the money back.
Wayne met Opal when he was a Senior in High School. She was a freshman. At the time she was impressed that he was a good-looking Christian man, and a good teacher of the Bible. Because of her age they waited to start dating. Opal says she was already out of school and teaching before they started dating. On June 24, 1943 he married Opal Cortelyou near Raritan, IL. This June would have been 70 years of marriage.
Wayne began farming near Raritan in 1944 and then moved to the LaHarpe area where he continued to farm. They rented land for 25 years before they finally had a chance to buy their own land. His boys loved to be out with dad and I have no doubt that dad enjoyed passing on his love and knowledge of farming to his sons.
Wayne was deeply proud of all his children. He was proud not just for what they accomplished in life but of the kind of character he saw in their lives. We have all seen that character by the way the kids have worked to make sure mom and dad were well taken care of.
Wayne Schroeder worked hard. He was a man who thought carefully and clearly. He was able to solve problems because of his sharp mind. For example, he had a tiller once that wouldn’t track. By studying the problem he determined that he could solve the problem not by tightening a bolt tighter but by loosening it. Wayne loved to farm. To illustrate this: when he went to purchase cemetery lots he had a choice between two locations. He chose the spot that had the better soil. Wayne drew great satisfaction from being able to see the fruit from his labor each year.
Wayne remained involved in the church in Raritan where he served as an Elder for several years and was also involved in the La Harpe community. He served on the LaHarpe School Board and other community boards. Wayne listened carefully to the complaints of others and sought to serve with wisdom and integrity. He was glad to be involved with the 4H program.
As they advanced in age Wayne and Opal decided they needed to be involved in a church closer to home so they joined the Abundant Life Church in La Harpe. Wayne and Opal had the privilege and joy of going to the Holy Land and to walk where Jesus walked. They also went to Hawaii with a farm group. They were wonderful partners in faith and in life.
Mr. Schroeder was a quiet yet engaging man. He didn’t leave a list of educational credentials or awards he had won. He wasn’t often in the spotlight and he was OK with that. He had a warm heart and was always gracious. He showed honor and respect to anyone with whom he came into contact. He would always welcome a person and walk them to the door after a visit. He wanted to show the love of Christ to everyone.
You would never hear Wayne swear. If he was really frustrated he might let go with a “O Nerts”. Even the time a mouse crawled up his pant leg he didn’t get angry . . . he did quite a little dance . . . but he didn’t lose his cool. He had a wonderfully dry sense of humor and a sparkle of playfulness in his eyes.
Wayne was a quiet man that sought to demonstrate his faith by his consistency and his integrity. He knew he was a sinner who had been saved by grace and sought to show his gratitude for that grace in everything that he did. He was a good husband, a good dad, and an upstanding member of his church and community.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself concerned that when I get to be old and lose some of my mental sharpness I will give way to my sinful nature and I will do things I would never do in my right mind. That wasn’t the case with Wayne. Even though he may not have known who you were he continued to be gracious and kind. Even though he may not have been able to hear you or understand what you were saying he still smiled to let you know that he was glad you were there.
Mr. Schroeder is survived by his wife, 3 sons, Dr. Kenneth (Emily) Schroeder of Rochester, MN, Brian (Connie) Schroeder of Minier, IL and Gary (Donna) Schroeder of LaHarpe, 1 daughter, Anne (Dr. Greg) Hoekstra of Waterloo, IA, 8 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild and 1 sister Dorothy (Al) Wickline of Galesburg, IL.
He was preceded in death by his parents, 2 brothers, Emory and Gail and 1 infant brother.
In the book of Revelation we read these words,
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this down: Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”
The death of a believer is a different kind of loss. There is still sadness because someone we love is no longer with us. However, when a follower of Christ dies it is not “the end”; there is not that sense of finality or even futility we often feel at a time of loss. In the case of Wayne, the journey is finished . . . he is home. It is like the joy of a graduation day from school . . . only way better.
Death for the Believer is not something to fear. Notice what we are told. First, people who die in the Lord are blessed. They are blessed with forgiveness, a clean slate, and an assurance that on the Day of Judgment they will stand spotless before the Lord because of the blood of Christ. It will be a day of blessing because we will finally meet the Lord who has loved us since the creation of the world and redeemed us so that we might be His forever.
Think about how you strain to see a child after an absence. Let’s say they went to school or went off to war. You stand at the arrival gate of the airport and you strain to see them. When they appear, a big smile creases your face and you throw open your arms to welcome the one you love and have longed to see.
How wonderful it must be to take that first step into life eternal and see the Lord of Heaven. I can’t imagine the beauty of seeing the eyes of the One who loves us more completely than we have ever been loved before. Bart Millard and his wonderful song “I Can Only Imagine” pictures it well,
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still?
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine.
The death of a saint is a reunion not only with Jesus but with all who have gone before us. Though I believe that meeting with our Lord will trump everything, it will also be something incredible to see those whom we have loved and lost on earth. Imagine the wonderful embrace of a mother, father, sister, brother or even a dear friend. It is staggering to think about.
Second, we are told that the saints will rest from their hard work. Do you ever find yourself saying, “I long for the time when the to do list will finally be completed?” We spend much of our time running from obligation to obligation. Sometimes we can’t ever relax because there is something we know we should be doing.
I’ve heard the idea of God’s rest compared to a person who has been working long and hard to build a home for his family. There are long days and nights, many frustrations and unexpected delays, and a seemingly endless list of details to attend to. One day you finish. The final punch list is completed. “Rest” is when you get to sit on the porch and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I love that picture. The rest of Heaven is when we know that we have “finished the course”.
These last years must have been hard for Wayne. He would see people and couldn’t remember who they were. He couldn’t hear what people were saying to him and he must have felt isolated. This independent man had to rely on others for help. It was a hard time. I wonder how often he reminded himself that “God’s grace is sufficient for me”. Now the struggle has ended. He has been restored to a greater aliveness than he has ever known. The battle is over. The victory has been gained.
Finally, we are told that “their good deeds will follow them”. We are not being told that we will in any way, shape, or form, be saved because of our good deeds. We understand that all our good deeds are but “filthy rags” when it comes to their ability to save us. However, the Bible does say that our faithfulness to the Lord will be rewarded.
People talk a lot about crowns and mansions. It is true that Jesus said He is preparing a place for us, and we will receive a crown or righteousness. The real reward of Heaven however will not be “stuff”, it will be the Lord Himself. I believe the greatest reward Wayne could receive, the reward he longed for all his life was this: The Lord grabbing him by the shoulders, looking him in the eye and saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” I cannot imagine a better reward than this pronouncement by our Lord and King.
This is an odd day. It is a day of sadness because we must say good-bye to someone we have loved and cherished. Yet, it is also a wonderful day because we know that Wayne Schroeder is now where he always longed to be: with his Savior.
It is fine for us to grieve. A genuine loss has been incurred. However, I encourage you to remind yourself of the bigger picture.
In this time it is good for us to do a couple of things.
- First, we should ask ourselves if we have this same hope that Wayne had. Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Have you turned to Him as the only one who can make you new and set you on a new course? If not, don’t delay. Follow Him today.
- Second, we should learn from Wayne’s life. Wayne reminds us that living a good life is less about achievements and stuff and more about character. To be a good and consistent husband, father, disciple, and community member is the goal to which we should all pursue. Integrity is a treasure that must never be devalued.
Wayne Schroeder was blessed and was a blessing to those around him. The best way to honor his life is to is to remember his character, learn from his example and give thanks to God for the way He revealed Himself through Wayne’s life.
Will you pray with me?
Father we thank you for the life and the testimony of Wayne Schroeder. We commit Him to your wonderful grace and celebrate your promise that he is now with you because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
Please grant comfort and strength to his family during this time. These last few years have been hard. Help the family to remember the good times, the healthy times, the times of life and celebration.
Grant your comfort to Opal. She has been such a faithful spouse to her dear husband. In one sense she has been losing him for a few years. However, this is so different. I pray that you would fill her with the hope of eternity and that you would wrap your arms around her and be gracious to her. Help us Father to pay attention and to learn from Wayne. We want to be as faithful as he was. Help us to that end for we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.