Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do not lose heart

I'm sitting here in my office on a Saturday afternoon, eyes swollen and red, tear tracks down my face, nose stuffy, and my heart broken.

I just came from the funeral of Dr. John Thompson, Professor of History at OC and a truly extraordinary man. I think I heard of Dr. Thompson before I even heard of OC. My youth minister adored him and told stories of his big hands and booming laugh and storytelling lectures that would enthrall students. Since I was a student here, and I found out recently for the past 20 years, his health has been pretty bad. His body ravaged by diabetes, kidney failure, and other health problems.

But it seemed as his body withered his spirit flourished. I think there are actually very few great teachers in the world, but Dr. Thompson certainly was one of them. Oh, to sit at his feet for another class or two or twenty. He was such a scholar. And he loved what he did. Stories abound of him padding around campus in house slippers, being rolled in his wheel chair up the big hill to the history building, and even delivering lectures from his hospital beds via speaker phone. He loved what he did, and he was outstanding at what he did.

There are people who love what they do and throw their hearts into it, and people who do enough to get by. Lately I've been having this crisis of conscience about my job. I love what I do, where I work, and the people I work with. And while that is a blessing that I know many people don't have, it puts you in such a vulnerable place. The more you love something, the more susceptible you are to it breaking your heart.

Even at Oklahoma Christian University, some days the faculty can be arrogant, the students can have bad attitudes, the staff can be apathetic and the administration can be distant (I myself have fallen into all those categories). And those days break my heart, because Satan makes me doubt that what I believe and am throwing my heart and career into is all for naught.

But then I am brought back to the truth on days like today, looking around an auditorium of hundreds of people from this dear community mourning the loss of a friend who stood for all the good we work towards. Dr. Thompson could have had a great job at another university with more money and prestige. He could have just retired when his health took a downturn, rather than joyfully and uncomplaining continuing to serve our campus. And I know over the years he must have had his heart broken, because he so freely offered it to all of us who crossed his path.

So although my heart is broken, I'm praying that it will be broken open to this community that I love and I will one day be able to in some small way leave a legacy like Dr. Thompson.

I'll leave you with the verse that Dr. Thompson left for all of us:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -II Corinthians 4:16-18


Rachel O said...

He was a wonderful, wonderful man.

The Lj's said...

Beautiful! I love you honest and refreshing spirit, Ann. Thank you!