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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 strange. 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?" "Well, 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 me.)
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
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."
"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 never 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."
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."
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."
think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call."
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 date. 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 heard or 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."
(It is a true story and
is not enhanced for publicity purposes.)
I Saw God
Where did I see him, you ask?
I saw Him in the face of a small
child whose smile and laughter reminded me of the happiness and joy that
come from trusting a God who loves us.
I saw Him in the golden
leaves of autumn which fall each year and blossom each spring. I heard him
in the rustling of the grass and in the song of a robin redbreast.
I saw Him in the person of a teacher who loved his students. I saw
him struggling to teach so that the student could have a better life. I
saw him toil on in his labors, underpaid and often unappreciated.
I saw Him in the compassion of a doctor who was working with God
to heal a patient. I saw Him as with his skills and knowledge he helped
relieve some of the suffering of a broken humanity.
I saw Him in
the love of a father who was sweaty and tired from a hard day's work. I
saw him work so that his family could have a house where they could make a
home. I saw him work so that his children could get a good education. I
saw him work so that the woman he loved could have a few of life's
I saw God today. Where did I
see Him, you ask?
I saw Him in the person of a
minister who wept with a family at the loss of a loved one, who joyed with
a young couple at the birth of their first child, and who prayed for love
which he could pass on to those with whom he came into contact.
saw Him in a public official who was elected to office by the people. I
saw him as he tried to do his best in a society which often accepts and
fosters crookedness. I saw him as he struggled to make a decision, knowing
that whatever decision he made would help some and hurt others, would be
praised by some and condemned by others.
I saw Him in an
ex-convict who was trying to make a new start in life. I saw him as his
past life followed him everywhere he went. I saw him as he tried to start
over and no, none was interested in giving him the chance.
Him in a person ~ any person, every person ~ who reached out his hand to
help another. I saw him as people overcame the difference of race, creed,
education, status, in order that they could help another.
I saw God Today. Where did I
see him, you ask?
I saw Him in the symbol of a
cross. It reminded me of His great love for us. He loved us so much that
He sent his only Son into our world to save us. His Son died for us even
when we weren't worth dying for. I saw him on the cross, and I heard His
prayer of forgiveness of us who put him there.
So, you see, I saw
You say you have never seen Him? You can, my friend, if
you will only look for him. .............. ~ author unknown
I have in my hands two boxes
which God gave me to hold.
He said, "Put all your sorrows in the black,
And all your joys in the gold."
I heeded His words, and in the two
both my joys and sorrows I stored.
But though the gold
became heavier each day.
The black was as light as before.
With curiosity, I opened the black ~
I wanted to
find out why.
And I saw, in the base of the box,
by which my sorrows had fallen out.
I showed the hole to God, and
"I wonder where my sorrows could be."
He smiled a
gentle smile at me.
"My child, they're all here with me."
"God, why give me the boxes,
Why the gold, and the black with the
"My child, the gold is for you to count your blessings,
black is for you to let go."
We should consider all of our friends a blessing. A ball is
a circle, No beginning, no end. It keeps us together like our Circle of
Friends. But the treasure inside for you to see is the treasure of
friendship you've granted to me. Today I pass the friendship ball to you.
Pass it on to someone who is a friend to you. ..........
.... ~ author unknown ~
Story of 3
Once there were three trees on a
hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the
first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled
with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate
carving and everyone would see the beauty."
Then the second tree
said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens
across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel
safe in me because of the strength of my hull."
Finally the third
tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the
forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches,
and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I
will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember
After a few years of praying that their dreams would come
true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first
tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to
sell the wood to a carpenter" ... and he began cutting it down. The tree
was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a
At the second tree a woodsman said, "This looks
like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The
second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a
When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree
was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would
not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special
tree so I'll take this one", and he cut it down.
the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for
animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at
all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small
fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had
come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in
the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their
Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave
birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made
from the first
tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for
the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the
importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure
of all time.
Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat
made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While
they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think
it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man,
and he stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the
tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its
Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried
through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When
they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air
to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize
that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close
to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.
moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way,
always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him,
He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just
not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans
are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are
always best............... ~ author unknown ~
I asked God to take away my
God said, No.
It is not for me to take away,
but for you
to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child
God said, No.
Her spirit was whole,
her body was only
I asked God to grant me patience.
Patience is a by-product of tribulations;
it isn't granted, it
I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No.
give you blessings.
Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to
spare me pain.
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly
and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my
God said, No.
You must grow on your own,
but I will
prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked for all things that I might
God said, No.
I will give you life
so that you may
enjoy all things.
I ask God to help me LOVE others,
as much as
he loves me.
Ahhhh, finally you have the
~ author unknown ~