Summary: funeral for relative with Alzheimer Disease.
Friends, we have gathered here to praise God and to witness to our faith as we celebrate the life of Jerry Venable. We come together in grief, acknowledging our human loss. May God grants us grace that in pain we find comfort, in sorrow hope, in death resurrection.
When we think of Jerry Venable, how can we not think or see the goodness of God. For in Jerry’s life God gave to us many incredible beautiful gifts: his musical talents, a loving can do attitude, and a charisma and charm that was a signature mark to how the man lived.
Jerry and his brother traveled one time from Little Rock to New York to promote their music and pursue a career in an area of his life that he loved so dearly. Blaine told of a journal that his dad kept while on this great adventure. It reads as comical now, but it really shows the drive and dedication that was such a character trait throughout his life. There were many days that they would travel, not receiving any money for their music and those were the days they would do without, but never having quit or failure entering into their mind.
My first meeting with Jerry was when, as a laid off electrician, I had taken a job installing theatre seating. There I was at Children’s Hospital standing face to face with a man that I never dreamed would one day be my step-dad. That man that I met that day was a respected superintendent, organized, focused, driven and forthright. But when I met him many years later, that same man who cared for his own rental property, and displayed all of the traits I just mentioned, was also tender hearted, compassionate, full of bull and loved to laugh. He would want to ask you, all that are here today, just one question… “Do you have that money you owe me?”
The downside friend of receiving such great gifts, through the life of an individual, is the tremendous and lingering loss we feel when that person and their gifts have been taken back from us.
We all like to think, that we have an ownership claim on each other, especially those we love, but in reality all the people that come into our lives are borrowed from God. We all know that when we borrow something, we’re supposed to give it back to where it came from. It does not matter how long we keep it, whatever we borrow, still belongs to the owner.
In Psalms 24, the writer reminds us that “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” Death is the reminder, that one day we all go back to our original owner.
Its one thing to die, but it is something altogether different to die in the Lord. The Bible puts it this way, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord, is the death of His saints.” Something precious happened on January 7th as Jerry lay in that bed. It sent tears and grief into our hearts, but God said what took place was precious in His eyes. Anything that’s precious in the eyes of God ought to be precious in our eyes as well, because we know God is good.
As we celebrate today Jerry’s life, we must celebrate the newness in Jerry Venable. AS jerry was a resident at Foxridge, it was there that Jerry and Jesus finally came to an understanding. You see when Jerry acknowledged his need for Christ in his life and understood that it is only through Christ that we can see the Father, Jerry Venable on that day received many new things: a new birth date, a new heart and a new state before God. This was also the new beginning of Jerry having for the first time “a peace that passeth understanding.”
Friends the life that Jerry lived, that was so full, was overshadowed with confusion and pain as he battled the dreaded disease of Alzheimer. But God used his very own appearance to ease Jerry throughout the last years of his life. When Jerry and mom would come to me and tee’s home, Jerry found comfort and solitude in their walks through the woods and down to the creek. I believe friends that God was calling out to Jerry, allowing him to see and experience God through the sunshine that warmed Jerry’s face, through the wagging of the dogs tail as Jerry reached out to pet them, and through the trees as they swayed back and forth praising God as He breathed on them.
It is at times such as this that we are sure that no one else as ever experienced the pain and loneliness that we feel. That no one understands what we are going through. There are even those who become angry. Like Martha and Mary; Jesus’ friends. They were deeply disturbed when their brother Lazarus died. They were visibly angry at Jesus. They couldn’t understand why Jesus did not intervene quicker than when He did. But Jesus’ kindness glows no better than when He accepted their hurt, loved them and turned a tragedy into a miracle.