It was on a Wednesday, the date was March 30th, 1927, the place was Huntsville, Alabama, that God sent a little bundle of life and potential to Lovee and Bessie Baker. She was the seventh of nine children to arrive and they called this latest bundle of joy, Katie.
We are here today because that bundle of joy touched our lives in various special and unique ways and that same bundle has returned to the wonderful God who created her. She has completed that cycle of birth, life, death and return to God. It is a journey that we shall all one day complete.
Katie knew the joy of being a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a great grandmother, a friend, a good cook, and a gift to the world from God above.
Katie was the work of God’s creation, and as beautifully as God created her to be, she has returned to her Creator. She now stands before God, to give an account for the life that she lived, as we must all one day give an account.
The Bible tells us, there is a time and a season for everything under the sun. A time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to hope and a time to give up, a time for joy and a time for pain, a time to be born and a time to die.
Katie made us thankful that there was also a time to cook and to time to eat her cooking. Her great granddaughters said her macaroni and cheese were the best. Michael and Bessie said whenever they came over to eat, she would send them home with containers of food. Katie tried to pack as much of her love as possible into the food she cooked. That’s one of the ways she let you know you were special to her.
We will all have many experiences throughout out lives, but there is one experience we can be sure of all sharing in. That one experience that is common to us all is death. It is as common and as natural as all the other things done under the sun.
We all have a certain number of days to live and our joys and struggles are different. But in the end we all come to the place that is called death, and from that point we look back and see what happened during our lives. Who was this person that the world knew as Katie Harvey?
We are shaped by the times in which we are born. Katie was born in Alabama in 1927 which lets you know very quickly that she was going to have to be strong inside to become more than just a survivor. She grew up knowing what segregation and discrimination was with a first hand view. She was in the heart of Jim Crow laws, with signs for whites only, and signs for coloreds. But no sign could keep her from becoming a proud black woman.
She knew the meaning of poverty being in a family of nine kids. When many kids were thinking of what it would be like to be in junior high school and high school, Katie left school at the end of third grade in order to work to help the family. She worked folding clothes for others. That was not a lot of money in exchange for an education that she never had. But it was the nature of the times in Alabama.
She became a self taught woman through the school of just living. Who knows what she would have done if she had the same start as others, because Katie had a remarkable memory throughout her life. She could remember places, dates, and numbers with great accuracy. She made the most of the short education she received, by becoming a life long learner and being observant of what was going on around her.
Katie did not dwell on what she had not received. She made the most of what God placed around her. She had a great sense of humor that could make you laugh and keep your spirits lifted up. She had a spirit of independence as a strong Black woman. She did not wait around waiting for you to do something for her, if she could do it herself, she was going to go ahead and do it.
There was not a lazy bone in her body. She was a hard worker. When she would go over to Michael and Bessie’s home, they would hope she would be relaxing, but if they stepped out for a moment, the clothes were going to get washed. If she saw something needed to be done, she didn’t say, that’s not my job. She just did it.
She had the gift of hospitality. She enjoyed doing things for others, and would not want you to try to make a fuss over her. When Mike and Bessie would invite her out to dinner, she would tell them to go ahead without her and have a good time. She was more interested in them just spending time with her, than doing something special for her. To her Family was special.
She loved to eat chicken and always had chicken in the refrigerator ready to share it with whoever came to visit. Katie was thankful and she was caring.
Katie was grateful. She felt a tremendous love for one of her older sisters who took the time to reach back and send for her to come to Cleveland from Alabama so that Katie could have other opportunities. If you talked to Katie for any length of time, you would discover she had a tremendous love and appreciation for her grandson Michael. She was convinced he was the greatest grandson in the world and a fine young man.
The only person that came close to Michael were the great granddaughters Janae and Jennifer. Bessie said that no matter what conversation she and her grandmother had it was going to be directed to, and how are Janae and Jennifer doing.
When you visited Katie’s home, there would be a picture of Michael and Bessie, but not in the volume of amount as there were the great grandchildren of Janee and Jennifer. Family was at the heart Of Katie. She enjoyed telling them story after story and she was a great story teller.
Katie had a very caring side to her. Her husband Zenda suffered a stroke, and she said “Lord if you let him live, I”ll take care of him.” He lived and she was faithful in caring for him right up until his death. The compassionate side of Katie made her very special to her great granddaughters. She could always tell when something was wrong with them on the inside. They took great comfort in her words, “It will be okay.” Katie was glad to stop working in 2002 to come and take care of Jennifer. Katie was a tremendous blessing to Michael and Bessie and they were the same to her.
It was her love for her great grandchildren that led Katie back to rededicating her life to Christ. Janae & Jennifer are part of our praise dance ministry. Katie wanted to come and see them dance. She not only had the joy of seeing them dance well, she had the joy of opening her heart up to the Lord.
She came back to church to experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. She rededicated her life to Christ and became a member of the church. Jesus became the focal point of her life once again. She came to church with a smile and sparkle in her eye that could could quickly encourage you.
The Bible tell us that there is a way that seems right to a person, but at the end of it is death. If we are all living in order that we might some day die, it should be of utmost important that we live in such way that in the end our lives would not have been lived in vain.
Whether or not we have lived in vain will not be determined by how much we accumulated in terms of material goods, for naked we came into this world, and naked we go out. No matter how independent and strong we may think we are in life, we all need a relationship with God.
There is a time and a season for everything. However sometimes we are not wise enough to understand what time it is in life. Things that we are putting off to one day, should and need to be done today. For when it is time to die, there’s no asking for an extension because of something you have to do that’s really important. Everyone will have time to die.
Katie discovered in time, it is not possible to become all that God wants you to become without becoming spiritually what God wants you to be. Have you checked yourself lately to see where your spirit is in relation to God and His word? Have you examined what is it God is calling you to do and to be?
Of all the decisions that Katie Harvey made in life, what she chose to do with the claims of Jesus Christ upon her life, was the one that will stick with her throughout all of eternity.
In our lives, the only decision that we can make today, that will still be affecting us in 500 years, is the decision we make as to following Jesus Christ. For the Bible tells us, there is no other name given by which we can be saved.
Life is so strange and so short. That’s why we need to live and to love as though each day may be our last. You may say Katie Harvey was my sister or my grandmother or my friend and those things may be true.
But the greater truth is that God gave Katie on loan to us for just a little while, and through death God has called her back.
Death is so much closer to us than we think. How often have we narrowly escaped its grasp by unexpectedly stopping on the corner, only to have a car come zooming past out of nowhere, or being in a serious accident and walking away with minor injuries, or suffering a heart attack or stroke yet being close enough to medical help to be saved. No, God has watched over us more times than we will ever know.
There is appointed a day however, in which each of us shall surely die. The best way to die, is to have lived in anticipation of that day in which we will give an account to God. The Bible tells us that Jesus has gone forth to prepare a place for each of us in the afterlife.
Whether or not we make it to the place that Jesus has for us will not depend on whether our good deeds outweighed the bad ones. Everything depends on whether or not we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts to give Him control of our lives.
You see death is not something to be feared, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not die but have everlasting life. Jesus said, let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, Believe also in me. For I go to prepare a place for you. Not only has Christ gone to prepare a place for us, Jesus has revealed to us the road in which we should follow.
Katie Harvey has made her choice and her assured salvation rests totally in the hands and mercy of God. None of us know the day nor the hour when we shall leave this world. Christ has died on our behalf that we might have life. He rose from the dead as proof that he can give life to us and that He is the Son Of God.
It’s a simple as confessing our sins, our yielding our lives to him. For in the end, the only decision that will matter is what did we do with Christ. For only what’s done for Christ will last for all eternity.
It’s not over for those of who know Christ, for the word of God declares.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.