(Mal 3:16 KJV)  Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.


(Submitted by "Louise")

John Powell, A Professor at Loyola University in Chicago
writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university
students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology
of Faith. That was the first day I first saw Tommy.  My eyes and my
mind both blinked.  He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung
six inches  below his shoulders.  It was the first time I had ever
seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion
then. I know  in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's
in it that counts; but on that day I was unprepared and my emotions
flipped. I  immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange ...very

>> Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my
Theology of Faith course.  He constantly objected to, smirked at, or
whined about  the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father-God.
We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I
admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew.  When he
came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked
in a slightly cynical tone: "Do you think I'll ever find God?"
I decided instantly on a little shock therapy.  "No!" I said very
emphatically.  "Oh," he responded, "I thought that was the product you
were pushing."
      I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then
called out:  "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever find him, but I am
absolutely certain that he will find you!"  He shrugged a little and
left my class and my life.  I felt slightly disappointed at the
thought that he had missed my clever line:  "He will find you!" At
least I thought  it was clever.
    Later I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly
grateful. Then a sad report, I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.
Before I could  search him out, he came to see me.  When he walked into
my office, his  body was very badly wasted, and the long hair had all
fallen out as a result of chemotherapy.  But his eyes were bright and his
voice was  firm, for the first time, I believe. "Tommy, I've thought
about you so often.  I hear you are sick !"  I blurted out.  "Oh, yes,
very sick. I have cancer in both lungs.  It's a matter of weeks."
"Can you talk  about it, Tom?"   "Sure, what would you like to know?"
"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?" "We'll, it could be
worse." "Like what?" "Well, like being fifty and having no values or
ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and
making money  are the real 'biggies' in life."
   I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S"
where I had filed Tommy as strange.  (It seems as though everybody I
try to reject by classification God sends back into my life to educate

   "But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, " is
something you said to me on the last day of class."  (He
remembered!) He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find
God and you  said, 'No!' which surprised me. Then you said, 'But he
will find you.   I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God
was hardly  intense at that time. (My "clever" line. He thought about
that a lot!)
    "But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and
told me that it  was malignant, then I got serious about locating God.
And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began
banging bloody  fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not
come out. In fact, nothing happened.
>> Did you ever try anything for a long time with great
effort and with  no success?  You get psychologically glutted, fed up with
trying. And  then you quit.  Well, one day I woke up, and instead of
throwing a few  more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God
who may be or  may not be there, I just quit.  I decided that  I didn't
really care  about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that."

"I decided to spend what time I had left doing something
more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I
remembered something else you had said:  'The essential sadness is
to go through  life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad
to go through  life and leave this world without ever telling those you
loved that you had loved them.' "So I began with the hardest one: my
Dad.  He was reading the newspaper when I approached him." "Dad". . .
"Yes, what?"  he asked without lowering the newspaper. "Dad, I would
like to talk  with you." "Well, talk." "I mean. .. . It's really
important." The
 newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?"
"Dad, I love you.  I just wanted you to know that."

>> Tom smiled at me and said with obvious satisfaction, as
though he felt  a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him: "The
newspaper fluttered  to the floor. Then my father did two things I could
remember him  ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me.  And we
talked all  night, even though he had to go to work the next morning.
It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel
his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.

"It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me,
 too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to
 each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so
 many years. I was only sorry about one thing: that I had waited so
 long.  Here I was just beginning to open up to all the people I had
 actually been close to.
 "Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He
didn't come to me  when I pleaded with him.  I guess I was like an animal
trainer holding out a hoop, 'C'mon, jump through.  'C'mon, I'll give you
three days . . . three weeks.' Apparently God does things in his own way
and at his  own hour. "But the important thing is that he was there.
He found me. You were right.  He found me even after I stopped looking
for him."
 "Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying
something very  important and much more universal than you realize. To
me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to
make him a  private possession, a problem solver, or an instant
consolation in  time of need, but rather by opening to love.  You know,
the Apostle  John said that.  He said God is love, and anyone who
lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.'
 "Tom, could I ask you a favor?  You know, when I had you
in class you were a real pain.  But (laughingly) you can make it all
up to me now.  Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course
and tell them what you have just told me?  If I told them the same
thing it wouldn't  be half as effective as if you were to tell them."
"Oooh . . . I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm
ready for your class."

 "Tom, think about it.  If and when you are ready, give me
a call."  In  a few days Tommy called, said he was ready for the class,
that he wanted to do that for God and for me.  So we scheduled a
    However, he never made it.  He had another appointment,
far more  important than the one with me and my class.  Of course,
his life was not really ended by his death, only changed.  He made the
great step  from faith into vision.  He found a life far more
beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has 
 ever heardor the mind  of man has ever imagined. Before he died, 
 we talked one last time.   "I'm not going to make it to your class," he
said. "I know, Tom."   "Will you tell them for me? Will you . . . tell the whole
world for  me?" "I will, Tom.  I'll tell them.  I'll do my best."
So, to all of you who have been kind enough to hear this
simple  statement about love, thank you for listening.  And to
you, Tommy,  somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven:
 "I told them, Tommy . . . as best I could."

 University of Alabama

United Christian Ministry
PO Box 395
Broadalbin, NY 12025

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