Robert Reiling Funeral Sermon
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
1 Samuel 16:7
February 11, 2009
Hymns (from The Lutheran Hymnal):
533 "Nearer My God To Thee"
457 "What A Friend We Have In Jesus"
376 "Rock Of Ages, Cleft For Me"
---- "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"
Solo selections (sung by Roger Gamble):
"How Great Thou Art"
I Samuel 16:7: "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
If you ever want to do an interesting experiment, take a group of children to an open field on a partly cloudy summer's day. Spread a blanket or two on the ground, and have everybody lie back and look into the sky. After a few moments, have each child tell what they see in the clouds. One child might say, "I see an elephant!" Another might say, "I see a castle!" And another might say, "I see a race car!" And the list goes on. And as time passes and the clouds shift, the list of things will completely change.
Everybody is looking at the same thing; but each child sees something just a little bit differently. Even so, they will all agree that what they're looking at is one big beautiful picture of God's creation.
Today as we gather together in memory of Bob Reiling, we are here because we have had some sort of relationship with him. Bob has been a part of our lives in one way or another. We all knew the same person; but that part is as unique and individual as we are. We all knew him and saw him just a little bit differently from each other. But one thing we can all agree upon, is that everything comes together to form the beautiful picture of the person we know as Bob Reiling.
Speaking for myself, I have been Bob's pastor for a while, and I have had the privilege of knowing him on a spiritual level that many people wouldn't have known about, at least directly. And along with that, I feel quite honored to be able to say that Bob was also my friend; and I shall miss him very much.
Bob and I shared a lot together. He is one of the more interesting people that I have ever known. He had 80 years worth of stories to tell about his life's experiences. As a truck driver, he's driven literally millions of miles in almost every area of this country. He has seen many different things, and he has experienced almost everything that any truck driver could ever experience.
Even though Bob didn't have a lot of formal schooling, he was very intelligent and perceptive. He was informed about a lot of things.
And then of course there was his sense of humor. He loved to tease, and of course he expected it back. And when he'd make a good natured jab, he'd break out in that mischievous grin of his, and you could see those blue eyes of his sparkle like diamonds. Bob was indeed a fun guy to be around.
I debated as to whether I should share this story, but since I have the family's permission, I will. When I was sitting with Helen, and Dorene, and Dave the other evening as we were discussing the arrangements for today, we referred to Bob as "an ornery old coot." We all laughed. And I think you would all agree with that statement too. We weren't being disrespectful or mean either. For Bob, that was a term of endearment.
The reason we are gathered here today however is not so much to reminisce about Bob. If we did that, we could be here all day. The reason for today centers around Bob's faith. And as Bob's pastor, I can tell you that he had a very deep, genuine, and profound faith. He had complete trust in Jesus as his Saviour; and through faith in him, Bob knew that he would be in heaven when he died.
The example of Bob's faith serves two purposes today. First, it is a comfort for his family and loved ones. Because of his faith in Jesus Christ his Saviour, we have the absolute guarantee that he is now in heaven, inhabiting the mansion God had prepared for him. For that, we are indeed thankful.
The second purpose is to serve as an example for those who are here to mourn his passing. Bob is in heaven right now; and I know that he'd like nothing better than to share that with you, his family and friends.
The passage of Scripture that I shared with you at the beginning of my sermon is a portion of I Samuel 16 verse 7: "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
What are the normal things that we, as human beings look at when we make a judgment about somebody? Do we look at the amount of money one has in the bank, or the car one drives, or the house one owns, or the clothes one wears, or the education one has? Isn't this the way that we have been conditioned by the world? Isn't this the measuring stick secular society uses?
These are the things that don't really matter at all to God. God cares what's happening on the inside of a person. Because when all is said and done, all of those earthly things will be left behind. The only thing that a person takes with them beyond the grave is their faith. Heaven cannot be bought or earned. It is something that is obtained purely by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. So when God looks at a person's heart, he knows if a person's faith is genuine, or if they're just putting on a false front.
During the time I spent with Bob, he shared that faith with me in various ways. Allow me to give you an example:
On several occasions, both Bob and Helen talked about a place called Har-Ber village, which is located just outside of the small town of Grove, Oklahoma, not too far from Tulsa. Because of Bob and Helen's recommendation, I visited there when I was in Oklahoma this past summer.
Har-Ber village is a rather large outdoor museum, where you walk from building to building, started by Harvey and Bernice Jones who owned the Jones Trucking Line. It is a very large place, with some quite fascinating exhibits. It's well worth seeing just for that.
As you walk through, you'll find yourself heading down an embankment toward the shore of the Grand Lake of the Cherokees. And there you will see first of all, a big statue of Jesus, made from white Italian marble, facing the water, with his arms outstretched. That's the picture that's on the front of your bulletin. I took it when I was there this summer, and I agree that it is very impressive. Just behind the statue is a small prayer chapel. It has stained glass windows and recorded hymns are playing in the background. That's the place that Bob loved to go for private prayer and meditation. And he went there whenever he could.
As Bob was lying in his bed, a photograph of that statue was in his clear view. That's the image of Jesus that Bob had in his mind when God called him home. Jesus was standing there waiting for him with outstretched arms ready to welcome him home. And now that dream has indeed become a reality.
One of Bob's characteristics was his honesty, even to the point of being very blunt. When we talked, he was honest about himself too. He knew he was a sinful human being and anything but perfect. There were those things he had done in his life for which he was ashamed. He knew that he had done the wrong thing many times. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Bob knew that described him. Could God love him enough to forgive him all of his sins?
And what about us? We all have sinned too. We have all disobeyed God and gone our own way. We have chosen things in our lives which are not God's will; and in so many ways we suffer the consequences either directly or indirectly. So many times we only have ourselves to blame for our problems. Does God love us enough to forgive all of our sins as well?
And it's here where we need to look to what God tells us in the Bible. When we do this, we don't find God scolding us and shutting us out of heaven; rather we see Jesus with open and outstretched arms, like that statue at Har-Ber village. We find a God who loves us and wants us to spend an eternity with him. God doesn't want to send anybody to hell, so he makes the way to heaven easy.
If we look once again at Romans chapter 3, I'll read what was in verse 23; but this time I'll add the words of verse 24 to it as well: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
Bob certainly knew and trusted Jesus as his Saviour. You might have noticed when you visited Bob, that he had a gold cross on a chain around his neck. He knew that what Jesus did on that cross meant his full and free forgiveness; and through faith in Jesus, that cross symbolized his key to heaven. That cross was the symbol of Bob's faith in Jesus his Saviour, and he was wearing it when he breathed his last. That happens to be the same cross that Helen is wearing today. And as you look at it, you can remember how important Bob's faith was to him, and how that faith has carried him into the mansions of heaven.
Today we celebrate Bob's entrance into glory. He's there because of his faith in Jesus, and nothing else. In Romans chapter 10 verse 9 we read: "...if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Bob certainly knew that. He trusted his soul's eternity to Jesus, who loved him so much that he gave his life so that Bob would be in heaven when he died.
As for us, we need that very same faith as well. We need that faith while we're still on this earth. A lot of fancy God-talk and meaningless platitudes spoken at a funeral service will not save us. Nor can we pray for a dead unbeliever with the hope God will somehow save them apart from faith in Christ. It just doesn't work that way.
A person's faith is something personal and individual. We pray that the Holy Spirit will work in you to create and sustain your own personal relationship with Jesus, so you too may enjoy your own heavenly reward when you breathe your last.
We all knew Bob in different ways. We have different stories to tell. Bob affected each of our lives in a unique way, and each of us saw him just a little bit differently, almost like looking at the clouds in the sky. When you put it all together, you see a beautiful picture indeed.
And so, as you reflect upon your own memories of Bob, and cherish them in your heart, also remember his faith that has taken him from this life into the next, where he is now experiencing no more pain, or sorrow, or tears, or sickness. Bob is in heaven, where he along with all of the other saints are experiencing nothing but eternal happiness and joy.
Robert Lee Reiling was born on July 21, 1928 in Montrose, Missouri, the eldest son of Richard and Ida (nee' Reiling) Reiling. When Bob was a small child, he moved to the rural Stromsburg, Nebraska area. He graduated from the 8th grade at Stromsburg Public School, and continued to work on the family farm.
Bob spent some time as an itinerant truck driver before enlisting in the United States Army Air Corps in November of 1944. He was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and at Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi where he trained to be an engine and flight mechanic. He also spent active duty time in Germany.
Following his discharge, Bob returned to trucking as an independent owner/operator. He hauled for a hog operation in York, NE. He also worked for Hilt Truck Line, RISS International, Seward Motor Freight, and JTI Trucking.
In 1996, Bob retired from trucking and was employed by the Village of Bee as a maintenance man. In 1998, Bob was employed by the Bee Co-op, after which he permanently retired in 2002.
On January 17, 1984 Bob was united in marriage to Helen Heidt in Lincoln, Nebraska. Bob and Helen spent many years traveling the road together and seeing much of the country. Bob and Helen also celebrated their Silver wedding anniversary earlier this year.
On February 6, 2009, at Fairview Manor in Fairmont, Fillmore County, Nebraska, Bob was called to his eternal home in heaven at the age of 80 years, 6 months, and 15 days following a lengthy illness. Bob and Helen were charter members of Mighty Fortress Evangelical Lutheran Church in Seward, Nebraska.
Left to mourn his passing are: his wife Helen of Bee, NE; a son Robert Reiling Jr. in Florida; a daughter Dorene and her husband David Sattler of Geneva, NE; a daughter Carol and her husband Francis Biba of Exeter, NE; daughter-in-law Tammy Dunn of Duncan, NE; a brother Gerald (Gerry) Reiling and his wife Cora of Jacksonville, NC; a sister Sandy and her husband Robert Walters and a sister Alberta Reiling both of St. Louis, MO; grandchildren David and Michael Sattler, Nicholas Reiling, and numerous other grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and a whole host of friends.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Charles and Richard (Dickey) Reiling.
BLESSED BE HIS MEMORY
TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS
1. O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.
2. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion,
For more than conquerors we are! Refrain:
3. His Word shall not fail you - he promised;
Believe him, and all will be well;
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell. Refrain: