Each Loss is Just Another Treasure in Heaven
Since the day the stay in place order has gone into effect, I have heard of two close friends/brethren who have passed away. First, an eighty-four year old Gospel Preacher, Pat Farish in Lancaster, Texas and just yesterday I learned of the passing of Ron Goodson of Mary Esther, Florida. These are two funerals I would like to attend out of respect for and mutual comfort to family and friends who have suffered a great loss. However, as has been demonstrated in states like Georgia, funerals have been a major source of Covid-19 outbreaks.
Although both of these men have left me with a great sense of loss because they had left upon me a lasting influence by their godly examples, Ron is on my mind and heart this morning. As a young preacher with a wife expecting our first child, we moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. In the early eighties, I began working with the Northside congregation with its two elders and two deacons. Ron was one of the deacons. He was very influential to me and my work there. Like Abel’s life, the first man to die, “…through it he being dead still speaks” (Heb. 11:4).
The first of what Ron’s life still speaks is: “teamwork and going out two-by-two is effective in serving the Lord.” For a couple of years Ron and I would get together every Tuesday evening and go out and visit members or recent visitors to the church or new converts or to have a Bible Study with someone who was interested in the Gospel. Of course, Ron and I did not come up with this idea. Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs. Paul had Barnabas and later Silas. When one of us was tied up the other was still able to go visiting. Once I was on a two week vacation and needed Ron to continue the Bible Study with a young man we had been working with. When I came back I asked if he was able to continue the in-home Bible studies. He joyfully informed me that not only was he able to continue the studies, he had baptized the young man.
Another thing about Ron which impressed me was his attitude about attending services. He was a hard worker. As a general contractor he worked for a multi-millionaire who built condominiums on the beaches of Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Narrare, etc. Whenever he was at work, when it came time for Wednesday evening services, Ron would tell the construction workers, “guys I am going to Bible Study and will be back in two hours.” Sometimes one of the guys would sympathetically ask, “you have to go to Bible Study?” Ron had a ready reply each time this came up, “No. I do not HAVE to go to Bible Study, I am blessed in that I GET to go to Wednesday night Bible Study.” Ron’s attitude was like that of David, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1).
A third example comes to mind about Ron. When he and two other men formed a construction company, things did not go so well. In a short time his two partners filed for bankruptcy. Ron would not do so. He would “owe no one anything except to love one another…” (Rom. 13:8). He and his wife took a weekend job cleaning motel rooms until his business creditors were paid back.
Finally, Ron still speaks today about being a servant at all times. Ron put servant in the role of being a deacon. In fact, deacon comes from a Greek term which means “servant.” During a Gospel Meeting the visiting preacher was in the pulpit expounding upon God’s Word when he turned green. As he covered his mouth, he excused himself and moved quickly down the center aisle toward the bathrooms. He threw up the entire way. Since I was leading singing that night, I jumped up and led the congregation in a couple of songs. Meanwhile, Ron quietly gets up and cleans the vomit up from the pulpit area all the way down the center aisle and down the hall to the door of the men’s room. The preacher came back and finished his sermon regurgitating what he had studied earlier in the day.
After services, the preacher took me aside and asked who cleaned up after him. He said he owed the person a big thanks. I remarked, “Carl, don’t worry about it. The guy who cleaned it up is one of our deacons and that is his job.” Which is not something I came up with myself. Ron had told me the same thing when I had thanked him earlier. I did joke with the preacher saying, “Ron does want you to do him a favor.” “What is that?” Carl eagerly asked. “The next time you throw up in church, just stand in one place. It makes clean up a lot easier.” By the way, did I fail to mention that the preacher’s last name was Flem.
Ron was one of my most treasured friends in this world. I enjoyed the times we worked together in the church and on the construction site. He is now one my treasures in Heaven. And as Jesus said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).