By Mark A. Taylor
As I grow older I become more nostalgic, which is why I wasn’t surprised to get a bit misty-eyed at a memorial service I attended last month. The occasion was to remember retired Cincinnati Christian University professor Tom Friskney who had died January 29.
But my tears were not for his faithful remaining family or for a personal sense of loss. Instead, a flood of memories washed over me when the congregation sang Friskney’s favorite hymn, “I Know Whom I Have Believed.”
When we got to each chorus, I was transported back to my childhood. It was as if I could hear my mother’s strong soprano rising to hit the high notes:
But “I know whom I have believ-ed
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”
I thought of all the decades Friskney taught at the Cincinnati school, many of them while also ministering to the small-town congregation gathered to honor his memory. And I remembered sitting at the old Hill Street Church of Christ in Marion, Ohio, more than 50 years ago, beside my parents who seldom missed a service there.
Despite family dysfunctions (I understood them only much later as an adult), we were “church first” people. If God gave credit for church attendance, I would have been paid up by the time I was 18. Today such a three-times-every-week duty—plus annual revivals and VBS—may seem like a quaint legalism. But it created for me a legacy, a framework for faithfulness that does not define but does help direct my walk with God decades later. Not only the habit of attending, but also the content of all that preaching and teaching, has left its mark.
The day after the memorial service was Sunday. My preacher came to the account of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, Solomon’s errant successors, in his through-the-Bible series based on Zondervan’s The Story. His challenge: “What kind of legacy do you intend to leave for your children?” It’s a question Solomon seems not to have fully considered. It’s a question many of us in a self-centered, activity-burdened culture, may miss.
Not Tom Friskney. Through not only his personal example of hard work, sacrifice, and nitty-gritty love, but also through his pursuit and proclamation of Scripture truth, he created an influence that will ripple through a dozen generations.
And I wonder which truth shared or choices made—or songs sung—those close to me will remember someday when I’m gone.