TEXT: "And [Job] said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”
In the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the one who died that we might live eternally, dear family and friends of Ricky King:
Have you ever complained about God? Has something happened in your life or in the life of somebody you know that has caused you to turn your eyes upward, and say, "Why are you doing this to me, God?" Have you ever muttered under your breath, "Well, God has never done anything for me." If words like these have never passed your lips, or if you haven't had these thoughts, then you are probably not human.
We've all tried to figure God out and why things happen the way they do. But because our brains and our logic are flawed by nature, we will always come up short.
The Prophet Isaiah was well aware of this. In chapter 55, verses 8-9, Isaiah records these words: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
The text I have chosen for today's sermon are words we have probably heard before: "The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away." How do we reckon with that?
We're all on board when it comes to the Lord giving. When everything is going along smoothly, we actually don't give a whole lot of thought as to why that happens. When everybody is healthy, and we have a job, and we have a home, and we have a car, and we have enough money to get by and maybe a little extra, then we are happy with what God is doing.
But in Job's life, things weren't going all that smoothly. He had met with one disaster after another. In the midst of all this, Job speaks the words of our text: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
As we consider the life of Ricky King, I admittedly did not know him all that well. But I know and have known people close to him; and from that, I can tell you that Rick has had a life with many blessings.
Rick was blessed with a wonderful mother who put the needs of her family first. She fed and clothed them, and she saw that they had a good education, both academically and spiritually. And she surrounded her children with a love only a mother could provide.
Rick was blessed by his brother Criss, and they remained close throughout Rick's life. They were able to live together and work together, which is something not all brothers could do. In this way, they have been a blessing to each other.
Rick was blessed with a step-father, Ken Nienhueser. Even though they didn't always see eye-to-eye, and they would exchange words when they differed, Ken still wanted the best for him.
And Rick was blessed with a step-sister Vicky who remained close to him and his brother Criss. Vicky promoted a strong sense of family and worked to strengthen that family bond however she could. And for a number of years, the three of them were about the only family they had in the immediate area. They lived just walking distance apart, and they always looked out for each other.
But death is inevitable. The mortality rate amongst human beings is now, and always has been 100 percent. You can expect your loved ones, each and every one of them to die someday. You can expect to die someday yourself. And it never seems to happen at a good or convenient time. It's always a hassle.
When this happens, it's always difficult to keep things in perspective. We tend to focus ourselves upon what the Lord has taken away. The Lord allowed a loved one to die. The Lord has allowed me to be lonely and to grieve. The Lord has left me in a difficult situation. And so we are tempted to lash out at God and blame him for making our lives difficult.
We can certainly look back and see how the Lord has blessed our lives. But what about now? Where's the blessing in all of this?
The thing we need to remember is that the Lord doesn't take something away that he doesn't promise something far better in return. He has not left us as orphans, as the Bible says. He has not deserted us. He has not forgotten us.
What the Lord promises us, is that he has prepared a mansion in heaven for all who are true believers in Christ. John 14 is where Jesus speaks these words of comfort to his disciples. He is going to leave them soon, and that won't be easy for them to accept. But it is far easier when there is the light of hope shining through everything.
The future in heaven is a guaranteed reward of faith. It is not something we can work for, or strive to get. We don't have to get there by the sweat of our brow or the labors of our hands. We will get to heaven through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He is our only Saviour. He is our only hope.
There are preachers out there who will say just about anything you want them to say at a funeral. They'll pat you on the back and tell you everything is going to be okay. They'll tell you to take comfort in the memories you have of a loved one. And they'll even go so far as to tell you that it doesn't really matter what a person believes.
Then they'll wax on at length about what a good person the deceased was, and that God will let them into heaven based upon whatever good things they might have done. And when it comes to Jesus, according to them he was just a great moral teacher who showed us a better way to live.
That's not the Christian faith, nor is it anything that remotely resembles it. Only the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And as sinful human beings, that's what we deserve. That's where we are.
But remember that God keeps on blessing us and giving to us. He gives us the guarantee of a heavenly eternity though faith alone. And when our last hour is upon us, we can close our eyes knowing our future is secure.
I had the privilege of spending a good bit of time with Rick's mother, Dorla Mae as she was in hospice care and her earthly life was drawing to a close. She knew that she was a sinful human being. But she clung tightly to her Saviour in faith. She knew that she had been redeemed and forgiven. She knew that her Saviour Jesus would take her to heaven for her eternal reward of faith.
I can't even begin to tell you how much Dorla Mae loved her children. As a mother, she saw to it that her children knew the faith she had, and that they would hopefully share it with her. She continually prayed for her children, and I prayed some of those prayers along with her.
If we're honest about it, we can see just how much the Lord has given to us in this life upon the earth. We have been blest beyond belief, and we have received much from the loving and gracious hand of our God. Even though we are undeserving sinners, God still loves us and richly provides for us.
The Lord also gives us the promise of heaven, so that all who believe in Jesus their Saviour will live in paradise forever in the mansion Jesus has prepared for them. That promise is for you and for me. That's a promise that gives us hope. And that's a promise that we can share with the unbelieving world around us.
The directive is simple. The Bible says that if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Saviour, we will be saved. That's a reward of faith, and not something we have earned on our own.
As believers in Christ, we can say right along with Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the Name of the Lord!”
Ricky Lane King was born June 3, 1952 the youngest child of C.L. King and Dorla Mae nee' DeWoody in York, Nebraska. He entered God's family through Holy Baptism at Immanuel Lutheran Church in York, where he attended growing up.
Ricky was a 1970 graduate of York High School. Following High School, he went to Central Community College in Hastings, and became a welder by trade. Amongst other places, he worked for Walker Manufacturing in Seward and J. R. Welding in Milford. Ricky also did maintenance and repair work for Herold Copper, who owned the mobile home park where he lived.
Ricky was very practical and mechanically inclined, and would try his hand at about anything. If someone needed help with something, Ricky was more than happy to assist them. As a hobbyist, he enjoyed model trains, die cast cars and trucks.
Ricky passed away from heart failure at his home in rural Seward on April 10, 2014 at the age of 61 years, 10 months, and 7 days
Ricky is survived by his brother, Criss King of rural Seward; his sister, Sherry Petersen of Yucaipa, CA; his step-sisters Vicky Copenhaver of Seward and Amy (Mrs. Earl) Chapman of Columbus, Ohio; his nephews, Brian Petersen of California and Brandon Petersen of Arizona ; and his step-nieces, Angelika and Kira Chapman of Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents; his step-father, Kenneth Nienhueser, his brother-in-law, Steven Lee Petersen and his step brother-in-law Christopher Copenhaver.
Blessed be his memory.