Ron Thomke - Second Speaker at Funeral Service for Gilbert Ricter - Lakota, ND - June 4, 2005, 10:30 a.m.

In 1958, Gilbert took Jim Jardine on a tour of conventions in the eastern states and they were at my home convention. I was not yet in the work, but I was being moved in that direction. Gilbert made a very strong impression on me at that time. I had the courage to approach Gilbert and have a short conversation with him. He probably never thought about that again, but I’ve never forgotten it. I’ve always looked up to him and appreciated him.

One thing that was unique about Gilbert was the way he expressed himself. I don’t think I know one person that said things the way Gilbert did. Anything that he wanted to say, he always had a good way to say it. We’ll miss that.

There are lots of things we’ll miss. We’re here today because we want one last touch with his influence. We’ve been touched by one of the giants of our day.

1 Corinthians 3:9, “We are laborers together with God.” Death is the experience that brings us face to face with our Maker. Death is completely different for those who have spent their life laboring with God. Meeting face to face with God is a continuation of what they’ve been doing through the years. It wasn’t with pride that Paul said, “I labor with God.” He was dealing with a problem in the Corinthian church. They were divided. Some said, “I am of Paul,” and some said, “I am of Apollos.” Paul realized Christ is not divided. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) It is the Lord. We are like a garden, all in different stages of development.

The Lord gives us different messengers to help us with each experience. He also said, “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:7) Paul was saying there wouldn’t be any fruit if it weren’t for God. God gives the increase. “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one.” (1Corinthians 3:8) Paul was saying Apollos and I are one. We’re not trying to get our own factions or followers, but we are one. We are not competing, but we are one. Our safety is that the focus and attention is on the Lord. May it ever be so that we who labor together with the Lord are one.