I really don't even know how to begin.
Empathy is impossible.
Sympathy is endless.
Faith is essential.
I believe that God sends people in your life for several different reasons. Some are sent to teach you. Some are sent to guide you. Some are sent to serve you. Some are sent to forgive you. Some are sent to love you, and some are sent to INSPIRE you.
Mr. Tom Risher was sent to inspire.
Although I did not know Mr. Tom on a deep, personal level and did not see him on a daily basis, the times that I did see Mr. Tom, a radiant smile was permanently etched into his face. You could not bump into him and expect a brief encounter. No, Mr. Tom wanted to know how you were doing, how was your family, how was school, and anything else that finds its way into a caring and compassionate conversation. Mr. Tom genuinely cared for others, and his extraordinarily friendly manner and love for others was contagious and yet again, INSPIRING.
For those of you that know Mr. Tom and his story the past few years, you know that he is a true inspiration. He fought when the odds were against him and conquered in the midst of storms.
Yet, the main thing that made Mr. Tom a true inspiration was his unwavering faith. He would not hesitate a minute to tell you the blessings that God had bestowed in his life, and Mr. Tom gave God the glory in all things. Even when he faced trials, when most people would turn away and grow weary, Mr. Tom clung to God with a passion and a strength that can only be admired and wished for in most lives. My favorite place to see Mr. Tom was where, to me, he was in his perfect element. Standing outside of the church doors, he was there every Sunday with that beautiful, inspiring, smile waiting to greet you and tell you how glad he was to see you. Mr. Tom's faith was INSPIRATION.
The last time I saw Mr. Tom was a week or two before I came back to Oxford. I was at Newks with my parents, and when we went to find a table, we saw Mr. Tom eating and asked him to join us. Instantly, he came and sat down with his smile on his face and ready to talk. That conversation with Mr. Tom confirms my belief that Tom Risher was sent to the world to inspire. We were there for over an hour, and Mr. Tom talked the majority of the time about what God had done in his life, how thankful and blessed he was, how amazing God was, and one of the last things he shared was how excited he was about his newest form of service through ministry. If that does not shout inspiration to you, I do not know how else you could even fathom to define it.
This was a man who had faced a major trial, yet it did not even phase him due to his faith. No matter what came his way, he was busting at the seams to tell everyone what God had done in his life, constantly thanked God for everything in his life, talked about how amazing God was, and he could not wait to SERVE him. If we all had the passion, love, and drive that Mr. Tom Risher had for Christ and serving Him, our world would be a radically different place.
Mr. Tom Risher was "a city on a hill," and his light could not be hidden. His light touched and inspired numerous lives, and all that had the privilege to meet him will forever have part of his light with them.
The beauty of death in Christ and the Christian faith is perfectly stated in Mercy Me's song, and that's how I will end this tribute to an inspirational man.
"In Christ, there are no good-byes, and in Christ, there are no ends. So, I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have to see you again."
I know that tonight Mr. Tom is standing in Heaven with that magical smile on his face, and I know that one day when I walk into Heaven, I will be greeted by that magical smile again.
Until then Mr. Tom, keep smiling. I love you.