I remember JW's Senior Spotlight and it was a real blessing to listen to the kids pour their hearts out to their families and friends. So I was really looking forward to this night.
Shaun, Luke, Brad and Tom
Luke was the second one to give his speech and in quintessential Luke form, it was short, to the point, no tears and no flash....just Luke saying thank you.
Many of the other seniors were similar to Luke while others were fighting back the tears saying thank you to their families. And then there were those who were totally surprising in their humor, delivery and sincerity.
The speeches were nearly finished when one young man got up to give his, Tom. He admitted he wasn't a public speaker, mostly because he doesn't always have anything to say that anyone wants to hear. Tom is an intelligent, deep thinker and this was obvious in what he had to say. But Tom isn't always received well by adults who don't know him, because he's not shy in speaking his opinion and doesn't always show self control with his words or actions. You see, Tom has a form of autism.
Those who really know Tom, love him. They find him funny and have always enjoyed having him around. When he got up to speak, before he even got up there, his classmates were cheering him on with anticipation at what craziness he would bring to this senor night. Tom didn't disappoint.
He was funny and truthful and quite honestly he caused people to stop, listen and think about life. There was a new appreciation in the room for Tom. But for me, Tom had the best speech of the night.
When Tom and Luke were in 7th grade, he wanted to go to church with us. Elated to have him come, we picked him up and took him. I wondered what he thought about the whole church thing, but didn't ask. I didn't want to scare him off. So I kept my mouth shut and waited to see if he would come with us again. And from that point on for months and months, the phone would ring at 9 am on Sunday morning and it was Tom letting us know he wanted to go to church.
He was like having another son in the van, they fought, they picked on each other and more than once we had to turn around and tell them all to STOP IT! I never knew what kind of an impact going to church had on Tom. I should have asked, I wish I had asked, but I didn't. All I knew was that he liked it and his mom liked it too. She even began to come and bring her daughter.
Five years later, I finally realized the impact going to church, Sunday after Sunday had on Tom. One of the first things he said in his speech last night was this: "I'd like to thank Luke's parents for introducing me to Jesus."
When I heard that I was instantly in tears. All those Sundays when he climbed in the van and didn't so much as speak a word to me or Bobby. All those Sundays when I wondered if he was really listening to the sermon or enjoying the music. All those Sundays when I thought his motive was just to hang out with Luke and his brothers.... All those Sundays, Jesus was working in Tom's heart. He knocked on the door and Tom answered.
The one kid who would be voted least likely to want to go to church or even be able to sit still and listen to a sermon for 40 minutes, was now standing in front of all his peers, family members and teachers confessing his thankfulness for knowing Jesus. Instantly, I wanted to run to Tom, hug him and thank him. But instead I sat in my chair and thanked God for showing up in such a beautiful way, for extending His grace to me once more and for reminding me of His faithfulness. This truly was a senior event I will never forget.