Summary: This message was delivered at the Funeral of my grandfather. I used Romans 8 31-39 as a basis for showing that Alzheimers never seperated him from God
One of the greatest men I have ever known, Henry Mearl Azbell, began his journey here on this earth on December 23, 1917 in Cass County, Indiana, born to Charles and Lilly. After 86 years of life here, he began his eternal journey on Feb. 14, 2004. One of 14 children, Henry is survived by sister Ida. In August of 1938 he married one of the greatest women I have ever had the pleasure to know, Verna Kidd. They had 4 children, Don who began his eternal journey in Jan of 1999, Donna O’Brien Jerred of Arizona, Dennis who joined his brother in 2003, and Donita Sanchez of California. He has two son in laws, Fred Sanchez and Rob Jerred, and one daughter in law, Mary Azbell.
Henry has 15 grandchildren, 17 great-grand-children, and 9 great-great-grandchildren. He also joined Grand-daughter Marianne who began her eternal journey in June 2003.
February 18, 2004 we met to say our farewells to a man who ended his journey here and began his eternal journey. We will take a look at the Gospel as written by Paul. Paul, like many of us, suffered great hardships. He was imprisoned for a period of time, which is part of the reason why I chose this particular writing. As we look back at Paul’s life while being imprisoned, we find great comfort that, just as Paul was imprisoned in a Roman prison, and just as a terrible disease imprisoned Henry, neither of them lost their faith and gave up their love for Christ. I can remember many times in the very recent past, as he would say grace sitting at the dinner table, how his relationship with Christ would shine. He was truly a man of God and loved as God loves. Let’s take a moment and look at
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These words written by Paul were our point of focus this day as we gathered in praise of the life of Henry Azbell. Beyond the feelings of sorrow, are the feelings of gratefulness for having known him.
As members of God’s family we met to embrace the family of Henry Azbell as they mourned his death. However, we also came to hear the gospel that was so very much a part of his life. At these times, when we are overwhelmed with emotion, it is important that we hear the words of faith, words which have sustained us all. We turned to these very words of Paul, which offer us comfort in assuring us that nothing is able to separate us from God’s love. Even as this horrible disease of alzheimer’s chipped away at the very man we all knew and loved, he was never separated from the love of God. Even when, at times, he would not recognize friends and family, you could feel the love and dedication.
God’s love surrounded Henry from the day he accepted Him as Lord and Savior till the very end of his days here on earth. It was a love that gave him strength and was the center of his life. It was a love that was the center of a marriage that lasted over 65 years, till the time that only death could separate them. Even though this debilitating disease attacked his mental faculty, and he lost touch with reality, he never lost site of God’s love. God’s love was the source of hope for him and is our source of hope today.
As we met on February 18th, in the midst of grief, we rejoiced in the victory that has been granted to Henry. He may have been poor by mans standards, but he is rich by God’s standards. Now he is with his Savior and is freed from all that bound him here on earth. Alzheimers can no longer make him suffer and can no longer separate him from those he loves. He is at peace and rest and surrounded by God’s love. He is once again reunited with those who have gone before him.