Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus Loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.
The day before Dennis Helledy died, I visited him in the hospital and sang Jesus loves me to him. And although Dennis didn’t open his eyes, he turned his head toward me as I sang. I had sung a couple of songs to him, but it was this song that he responded to. I sang, “Yes, Jesus loves Dennis. Yes, Jesus loves Dennis. Yes, Jesus loves Dennis. The Bible tells me so.”
Dennis was our oldest STAR at 69 years of age and on March 7, 2013, he went home to be with Jesus. I was asked to speak at Dennis’ funeral, which wasn’t called a funeral. Instead it was called, “A service to the Witness of the Resurrection. In memory of Dennis Helledy.” How beautifully fitting. Our STARS, directed by Kristin Knosp, led the congregation in singing one of Dennis’ favorite songs, How Great Thou Art. Then they sang and signed, God is on the Throne. Right before I shared my thoughts that evening with Dennis’ family and friends, we sang, Jesus Loves Me. Here is what I said.
“Jesus loves Dennis and he knew this. How did Dennis know this? Because life had always been easy? Because he had always received what he wanted in life? Hardly, although from all that we have heard this evening, we know that Denny had a wonderful family. A family that showed God’s love to Him. I have been particularly blessed to know his sister Joyce and brother-in-law Bruce, who are great supporters of our STARS ministry.
Dennis knew that Jesus loved him because the Bible told him so. The Bible told Dennis that he was made in the image of God. That he had value and worth, not because of what he did or how he looked or how well he did or didn’t do in school, but he had worth because he was made in the image of His Creator. That’s what made him special and that is what makes you and me special.
The Bible told Dennis that God made him the way he was so that the works of God might be displayed in his life. In John 9, when Jesus disciples asked why the man was born blind. They were convinced that it was because of the sin of the man or at the very least the sin of his parents. But Jesus replied, “Neither. This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in his life.” There were many times I saw the works of God displayed in Dennis’ life. One of my favorite memories of Dennis is how he loved to pray. He was particularly found of giving the benediction at the close of the STARS Christmas program. I can still see him holding up his hand as he prayed the blessing. I was often touched by his prayers and concern for others. When his brother-in-law Bruce was sick, it was Dennis who would call me and say, “Dawn, you got to pray for Bruce. You got to go see him. He hurts real bad.” God also used Dennis to bring us volunteers for the STARS ministry. Lacey was visiting our Praise in Action program one night and heard Dennis pray. She promptly went home and told her husband, “We need to get involved in STARS.” And they did. And they are still serving with us. Lacey was one of Dennis’ teachers at the Sunday morning Bible class.
The Bible also told Dennis that the parts of the body of Christ that seem to be weaker are in fact indispensable. Dennis was indispensable. God had a place for him and Dennis loved being part of the church. He became a member of College Church and frequently told me, ” I love my church.” He so enjoyed riding the STARS bus and would frequently call to make sure that the bus drivers didn’t forget him. After being absent from church for a time because of illness, he would tell one of our bus drivers, “I’m ready to come back to Sunday School, Tom. I love Sunday School.” One night when we were practicing the music for disability ministry Sunday, Dennis asked if he could pray. He was so excited to help lead the church in worship. He prayed, “Lord, help us as we prepare for our special Sunday. Help us to do our best. This is the first time I’ve ever been in such a program. Isn’t that something!” And yes, it was something. Dennis really was indispensable. He was God’s workmanship and created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God had prepared in advance for him to do.
The Bible told Dennis that even when he was weak he didn’t have to worry because Jesus was strong. Like many of us, Dennis was prone to worry. He was afraid of dying. Yet those worries and fears didn’t prevent God from loving him and helping him. The New Living Translation of Romans 8 puts it this way: “neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” I am so grateful to God that Dennis passed away peacefully in his sleep. As the STARS sang earlier in the service, “God is on the throne, no need to worry.”
And the Bible told Dennis that Jesus died to take away our sins and that whoever believes in him will not die but have everlasting life. Dennis believed that. Dennis sinned and needed forgiveness. Just like you and me. Because Jesus is his Savior, the gates of heaven are opened wide for him. We grieve. Dennis will be missed. But we do not grieve like people who have no hope. Dennis isn’t dead, he has been transformed. He left some baggage behind–a body that no longer worked very well. And now he is alive in heaven in a body that is like Jesus’ body. And all who believe in Jesus as their Savior have the same hope and will experience the same wonderful life that Dennis is experiencing right now.
I Corinthians 15:54-57 puts it this way: “Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
For sin is the sting that results in death…But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And as Denny would say, “Isn’t that something!”