Last week a good friend of mine, Cathy Thompson, lost her long battle with cancer. When Paula and I visited the funeral home, I couldn’t help but re-think my first introduction to Cathy.
It was many years ago when the church I was serving was meeting in a high school. We met on Saturday night in the theatre of the school and I remember one night seeing Cathy show up, sitting by herself. The first several weeks was kind of a look of, “I’m not sure if you’re weird or not,” and after several weeks it changed to, “I’m interested,” and thereafter, leaning forward.
After a while I remember thinking she must be single, but a couple weeks later, she showed up with her husband Randy. Randy had the same kind of look on his face; of mistrust and then downright curiosity. Not long after that, I saw Randy one night behind the stage and I wondered, “Maybe he’s lost. Certainly he’s where he shouldn’t be.” But I discovered that Randy had volunteered to be a backstage hand on Saturday night – something very few people wanted to do.
What really shocked me was that Randy was a self-professing, non-Christian. He went out of his way to tell me that he wasn’t a Christian and held much of what I had to say with some degree of skepticism. And yet he wanted to come and serve and really find out what the whole thing was about.
This taught me what I learned in those ten years of meeting in a high school, that people want to connect to the community of Christ before they connect to Christ. Simply, people want to know if we’re real, if we’re really what we say we are; that we love each other, and we serve out of a passion for our risen Savior.
As I was riding over to the funeral home I was reminded of how Randy and Cathy had become so dear to me and Paula, and that Randy did, one night after the service, tell me he “got it,” that he’d accepted Christ into his life, and it was awesome to see the change. Over time he became a friend and an advisor. And still, over more time, Randy became a co-worker.
We served many great years together. Randy’s big heart and big smile is always infectious. I remember the heartbreak the day we sat in the hospital together and heard the terrible news, that it was cancer. I remember the surgeries, the prayers, and the long nights. I also remember this great Christian brother, and his faithfulness to his wife; to love her, serve her, stand with her, and be her support.
Good-bye Cathy. You entered into your eternal life in your new home. You are now face-to-face with your Savior. While you are richer for it, we are poorer. We love your heart, love your tenacity, and we’ll never forget you.