Friday, July 22, 2011

God's Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Clendon Thomas

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a tribute luncheon for Clendon Thomas, the 1957 Oklahoma All-American football player who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this December. The Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma City was packed with people who came to honor Clendon's accomplishments, but more importantly, to honor his character and humility. The Daily Oklahoman did a great job this morning reporting on the event.  I knew Clendon and his lovely wife before the luncheon, even attending OU football games with them courtesy of my friend Jakie Sandefer. However, I was deeply impressed by an event that closed out the luncheon You could tell Clendon was unconfortable throughout the tribute with all the attention. Clendon was so popular during his playing days that some Oklahoma fans even named their sons after him, and he remains unaffected by such attention, even to this day. However, the only time Clendon became emotional was at the end. I sat where I had an unobstructed view of Clendon as Chuck Bowman, Director of Oklahoma's Fellowship of Christian Athletes and former roommate of Clendon at OU, read a poem. I saw on Clendon's face his heartfelt belief this poem represented his beliefs.

Clendon Thomas
A little background on the poem is warranted. Mickey Mantle came to faith in Jesus Christ two weeks prior to his death in 1995. His longtime friend, Yankee second baseman Bobby Richardson, had long prayed for Mickey Mantle's conversion to Christianity. At Mantle's euology, Bobby Richardson read the poem that Chuck Bowman read at the Clendon's tribute yesterday. For two of Oklahoma's greatest athletes, one of whom has served Christ all his life (Clendon Thomas), and the other who came to know Christ just two weeks before his death (Mickey Mantle), this poem has proved very meaningful. For me, it is a creative reminder that real  and lasting meaning in life comes from our relationship with God through faith in His Son.


Your name may not appear down here,
In this world’s hall of fame,
In fact you may be so unknown,
That no-one knows your name!

Our Halls of fame are only good
As long as time shall be;
But keep in mind, God’s Hall of fame,
Lasts for eternity!

To have your name inscribed up there
Is greater yes by far,
Than all the Halls of Fame down here
And every man made star.

Man on earth will soon forget
The heroes of the past;
They cheer you on until you fall;
How long will your fame last?

But God, He never does forget,
And in His Hall of Fame,
By just believing in his Son,
Proud, you’ll find your name.

Accepting His Son died for me
Was all it really took,
For God to take His pen,
And write me in His book.

For every famous name on earth
Or glory that we share;
I’d rather be unknown down here,
And have my name up there.

I tell you friend, I wouldn’t trade
My name, however small,
In His book, beyond the stars
…In His celestial Hall.