by Raymond Gonzalez Sr.
Sentry Magazine, September 1999
Not long ago, in the work of cleaning up, putting in place songbooks and Bibles, I noticed some things that speak of our faith.
As I began the clean-up, I murmured: "these brethren are so negligent"! There were papers, crayons, candy wrappers, and pencils all over the floor. After considering, I repented! Thank God for all of the children that we have and for the parents who bring them though services are long. Thank God for the mothers who battle to bring these innocent ones though they are very active. I remembered Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy. For sure they had the same struggles training the child that later would become a great evangelist (II Timothy 1:5).
The Litter that Speaks
Now I rejoice to see these wonderful pieces of litter that speak of our faith. I also found some notes. Since we know the writing of everyone, it was easy to identify the authors. I said to myself; "mischievous youths"! As I threw them in the trash can, I thought for a moment and I asked for forgiveness. Thank God we have young people in our congregation. Thank God that they have the confidence to write to each other.
One note read; "tell Rudy to be quiet"! This indicates that amongst themselves, they respect the services of the Lord. Another note said; "What are you going to buy after services?" This reminded me that they are still children. Another note made me laugh; "pinch Mary and wake her up".
But later, I found other things that were not trash, but solemn fingerprints of our faith. Among the Bibles, one of them caught my attention. I opened it and on the inside cover it read; "Sister Judith, use this Bible to save your soul and the souls of those who surround you." She does not attend anymore. It has been a long time since she left us. The fact that she has not returned, not even for her Bible, tells us something terrible. She has lost her spiritual ear. There is nothing worse in this life than to live without God and, no matter how much we may say that we have Him in our hearts, if we do not hear His word, we do not hear God!
Nevertheless, we thank God that this woman heard and was baptized! We thank God that she learned! We also remember that the Word of God never returns empty (Isaiah 5:11). If this sister leaves this world without God, this Bible is evidence that the gospel was preached in Colonia Baja California, Mexicali.
As I cleaned the water fountain area, above and behind I found some eyeglasses. These glasses were left by another sister that has also abandoned the Way of the Lord. The sister left them here the last time that we saw her. On that occasion, she was very happy and we will never forget her smile, but sometimes outward appearances are deceiving! These eyeglasses were used exclusively to read the Bible, but hearing and reading the Word twice a month and only in services creates a very dangerous ignorance. Here are her glasses, they only need a little cleaning and they will be ready to focus her eyes again. May God bless her "eyes of understanding" (Ephesians 1:18) that she may return to the side of Christ, her husband and Savior (Romans 7:4).
As I was about to finish, behind the pulpit, among papers, chalk, nails, notes, and many other things, I found an outline. The writing was distinct. It belonged to a very beloved brother in Christ. When I think of him, my heartaches. He has also left us. The pain of losing a son can not hurt more. I put down the broom for a moment and I sat down to look at the outline and to remember the times that we studied and preached together.
The outline is well prepared. This brother was blessed by God with tremendous intelligence. With it, someday he will be a very rich man. But the Lord will ask an account! We know that God has given all of us "talents" (Matthew 25:14-10), to some more than others. We also know that we will be judged according to what we have received. This brother has left us and he insisted that his reason was just. But even if it is, that will not free us from our responsibility.
My wish is that one day this brother will meditate upon his decision. I hope and wait on the other mechanism that the Lord has given man, our "conscience towards God" (I Peter 3:21).