We gather this morning to affectionately remember and celebrate the life of Roberta A. Haines. As we do so, it is our intention to also stir up the hope that is in us because of our faith in Jesus Christ.
In the Bible we read these wonderful words from the Apostle Paul. As you hear the words you can almost hear Roberta saying something like this,
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us in his presence…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
In 2 Cor. 5 the Apostle Paul reminds us of what is ahead, (from the Message)
We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven God-made, not hand made and we’ll never have to relocate our tents again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead, He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
If we keep these thoughts in mind we will view this day differently than most people. Today is not the end for Roberta Haines . . .in so many ways, it is just the beginning.
Will you pray with me,
Our Father, we bow before you as the one who determines the times and the seasons. We bow before your wisdom and your grace.
Lord, we thank you for the blessing you gave to us in Roberta Haines. Thank you for granting her the fullness of years. We ask, our Father, that we may be comforted in this time of loss. Help us also to remember and celebrate the gift that has been given to us in Roberta’s life.
Lord, please be honored through our words, we ask in Jesus, name. Amen.
Roberta A. Haines, was born July 16, 1916, near Fountain Green, the daughter of Kerus and Zola (Barr) Huston. She was the middle child and only sister sandwiched between two brothers. Her brothers loved to tease her. When Dorothy came along it evened the score a little.
Roberta graduated from Fountain Green High School. She shared a horse with Keith as they rode the 3-4 miles to school.
Roberta met Ellis Haines at an Ice Cream supper and on December 23, 1939, they were married in Kahoka, MO. He preceded her in death on March 31, 1999.
Ellis and Roberta worked hard together. Roberta at various times worked for a family in Macomb as a housekeeper, she was a waitress, and she even helped Ellis in the early years of the trucking business to deliver Moorman’s feed. On overnight trips they camped in the city park or in the back of the delivery truck. They even repaired used bicycles for some extra money. For awhile they owned the Tastee Freeze in LaHarpe.
The Haines lived for 30 years in Bushnell. Roberta played golf a few years, rode a bicycle, was involved in Eastern Star and belonged to the Thimble club at a time when they actually wore thimbles and did needle work. She at one time made matching dresses for Dianne and Donna.
When she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis the Doctors at the Mayo Clinic told her she’d be in a wheel chair within a year . . .it took 50 years (and a number of surgeries) before she finally gave in to using a wheel chair! She had a remarkable spirit.
She was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Bushnell. In 1979 they moved to La Harpe. She and Ellis then joined the Union Church of La Harpe.
Surviving is one sister, Dorothy (Jerry) Baker of Quincy; a nephew, Steve (Lynda) Baker of Quincy; and three nieces, Dianne (Rick) Balmer of La Harpe, Donna (Wendell) Cunningham of Quincy and Kathy (Terry) Anastas of Quincy. She was preceded in death by two brothers, Keith and Edward Huston.
We all know that Roberta Haines was a remarkable woman. I have found it very interesting to learn about the pre-arthritis years of Roberta’s life. Roberta used to be quite stylish. She enjoyed looking good and she enjoyed being able to entertain employees at Christmas with her best dinnerware and a special meal.
When Dianne and Donna went for visits to Bushnell, Roberta would take the girls swimming and did lots of other things to entertain them. They knew however that if they spent the day with Ellis in the warehouse they needed to go straight to the basement to clean up before coming into the house.
Roberta loved Ellis. For the most part Roberta went along with whatever Ellis wanted to do. She trusted his judgment and always sought to honor him publicly. There may have been a few times when she “pointed out a few things” in private; but in public… there was 100% support.
Roberta and Ellis were quite frugal (probably more Ellis than Roberta). They enjoyed life but were also careful. Roberta managed the books much of the time for the trucking company.
During the winter Ellis and Roberta would head for Florida. Once they were retired they would leave in the Fall and return in the Spring.
Ellis and Roberta took a trip with the Butlers and Heils in 1996, the year they were both going to celebrate their 80th birthday. They went to a ranch in North Carolina and had a great great time. Roberta and Ellis were very fortunate to have friends and business partners such as the Heils andButlers whom they regarded as part of the family. They looked in on Roberta often after Ellis was gone.
Roberta loved her family. When she and Ellis lived in Macomb they shared their home with Dorothy while she attended High School there. She was pleased that Kathy was named after her, Kathy Roberta. She really looked forward to Thanksgiving dinner because Wendell made the trip from Morton to get her and then brought her back home. At Christmas she enjoyed being able to go to Quincy where she celebrated the holidays with Dorothy and Jerry and their family.
She was blessed to have Dianne living nearby. Dianne helped Roberta get to Thimble Club, go shopping, and do a host of other errands. She relied on her regular visits.
Roberta had a great sense of humor. She and the rest of the family had a good laugh at Steve’s expense. They applauded his ability to keep up his membership in the “clean plate club”.
Roberta continued to be interested in what was happening at the farm. She trusted Michael’s leadership and business sense and enjoyed hearing about the new calves and corn yields. She enjoyed coming to church with the Butlers and sitting in “her pew”. It was a great 40+ year business and personal relationship.
Just a little over a year ago John and Elizabeth Heil took Roberta for a ride out to the farm in Ellis’ old blue pickup truck. It was a special day.
I always appreciated Roberta’s straightforward way. She wasn’t mean, just honest. If she wondered what was going on at the church she would say, “Say, tell me what is going on with the Building plans” or “Tell me why some people don’t dress better for church” or “Tell me why we need to do such-and-such.” She was never offensive but she wasn’t afraid of asking questions either.
My favorite Roberta story happened some time last year. I was preaching a series in 1 Corinthians and we had arrived at 1 Corinthians 7 and a passage that talked some about intimacy between a husband and wife. Roberta wasn’t in church that week but she did read the sermon. When I stopped in to see her she told me that she read the sermon and said, “there was a lot of sex in that sermon” (it was obvious that she was uncomfortable with the subject being addressed from the pulpit.)
Roberta warmed my heart when she followed that statement saying, “I know this is just where we are in the text”. (She had embraced our philosophy of letting the text set the agenda for our subject matter).
I explained that my wife wasn’t too happy with my comments either. She responded, “Well there was a lot of sex in the sermon.”
Roberta Haines was a remarkable woman. She was kind, caring, and never spoke about others. When most of us would have resigned ourselves to our disability, she kept going. When we might have decided it was too embarrassing to be in public, she remained upbeat. When others would have become sour, she never complained. When others would have whined, “Why me, God?” she remained faithful.
Roberta was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. She was a strong example of faithfulness.
Roberta was blessed by God. She was blessed to have caring family and friends who looking in on her and cared for her. She had wonderful neighbors who would check in just to see if she needed a jar opened or some other assistance. She was blessed to have a husband who pushed her and refused to let her give in. She was blessed by several caring ladies who came and stayed with her so she could remain in her own home. She was blessed by the staff of the Nursing home that enabled her to live her last months with dignity. Roberta was blessed in life.
Not only was she blessed — we were blessed because of her.
In 1 Corinthians 15 we read these words,
35 But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” 36 What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. 37 And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. 38 Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. 39 Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength.44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. (NLT)
Paul uses an illustration from farming to describe what we will be like when those who have put their trust in Christ die. He says the difference between our heavenly body and our earthly body will be similar to the difference between a seed of corn and the stalk of corn that results from that seed; or the difference between an acorn and an oak tree.
What a great picture! Think about it. Roberta Haines is now with the Lord. She is walking straight, her hands work perfectly. Her feet are stable and strong. Her mind is sharp and her energy is at its peak. She has been restored to something better than we can even begin to imagine! She is made new! She has been reunited with her family and friends and has even met Jesus.
I encourage you to get hold of this picture. There is no reason to be sad for Roberta today. She has been promoted, transformed, made new. We must recognize that our grief is for our loss; not hers.
Jesus gave us this promise,
“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.”. . .
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-4,6)
It is important that we understand to whom this promise is given. Jesus said, “No one can come to the Father except through me”. In today’s world that sounds narrow minded. However, Jesus can make this statement because He alone can provide what we need to be accepted by God.
Let me try to be clear. I am confident that Roberta Haines is in Heaven. However . . . I do not believe she is in Heaven because she was a good lady (which, by the world’s definition, she was). She is in Heaven today because she trusted a Great Savior.
Roberta understood that even on her best days she could never earn Heaven. God’s standard is perfect obedience. None of us has even been close to that standard for a long time. Roberta was better than most people . . . but not good enough. The idea that the only prerequisite for Heaven is death, is wrong. None of us can make it on our own.
Think about it this way. There are many people who are good athletes. Some are the best in their school and in their hometown. These people may be applauded and win awards but very few of these people ever become top paying professional athletes. They are good, but few are good enough to attain such a lofty standard. The odds of becoming a professional athlete are very long.
It is even worse odds for those who try to earn their way to Heaven by being good enough. The Bible says there is “NONE that is righteous”. God’s standard is so far above our experience that it is impossible for us to make it on our own.
In the book of Titus we are told,
4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. (NLT)
God, understanding our situation sent Jesus to teach us and to die for us. He traded His life for our sin and rebellion. He took our place and as God’s Son offers us new life through trusting Him.
Just as the government is able to go into a bank and erase their debt; so Jesus erased our sin debt by His sacrifice. Likewise, just as there are conditions a bank must meet to receive a government bailout; there is also a condition to receive a spiritual bailout. The condition is that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
This isn’t about having some religious moment or even about learning certain truths. Believing in Christ means we are willing to bet our lives and our eternity on Him. Practically, it means we will endeavor to live our lives in the way He has commanded trusting the strength that He alone can give.
This is what Roberta did. She put her trust and confidence in Christ. This fact changed the way she lived, and determined her destination when she died.
Today we have several challenges. The first, and most important challenge, is to learn from the faith of Roberta Haines. The question we must ask is simple: Are we putting our trust in Jesus Christ or are we hoping our own ability, our church membership, or our good deeds will get us into Heaven? The only way to Heaven is through faith in Christ. I encourage you to put your hope and trust in Him today.
Second, we should learn the lessons from Roberta’s life. Here’s just a few,
1. Life is what you make it. The obstacles of life will either knock us down or make us strong. The effect of the trials of our lives is up to us. We can choose to despair or choose to grow.
2. No one can make it through life on their own. We all need friends and family. We must cultivate these relationships before we need them.
3. If you speak well of others, others will more than likely speak well of you.
4. Life can make you laugh or it can make you cry; it’s more enjoyable if you laugh
5. Every life is an interesting story. We won’t learn the story unless we take the time to listen and look past the limitations a person may have.
6. Faith is not about the church you attend, but the Savior you trust. It is not about what you learn with your head, but it is about that to which you are willing to commit your life.
Finally, we should focus our minds and hearts not on our loss, but her gain. From this moment on we should begin to look forward to a glorious reunion with a healthy, vibrant, reborn, Roberta Haines. One thing is for sure, she will be there waiting for us.
Our Father, thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us Jesus as the One who can turn us from the way of death to the way of life. We are indebted to your for your mercy and your grace.
Thank you for the example that you gave us of faith in your servant Roberta. Her example spoke loud and clear. Welcome her richly into your Kingdom through the work that Jesus Christ has accomplished on her behalf. Help us to remember her vividly as we continue the journey of our days.
Help and preserve us until that day when we shall be reunited with her. Help us, O Lord, to live our lives with the same kind of spirit, grace and faith that she had We ask all of this in the name of our Blessed Savior, Jesus. Amen