J Lawton Smith Award Recipient

J Lawton Smith was one of the original founders of the COS.  He was globally well known as a neuroophthalmologist who was charismatic in practice and his faith!

The J Lawton Smith Award is given out each year at the COS Annual Meeting to an ophthalmologist who has shown a lifetime commmitment to serving the Lord through their personal practice of excellence in medicine, academic influence, and/or missionary dedication.

brindley

A Consumate Teacher with Unrestrained Joy

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If anyone were to ask Glen why he got out of bed every morning, he would have said, “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever”

written by Kyle Smith about Glen

I first met Glen Brindley when I was a 4th year medical student determined to find the best residency program in the country, or at least the best one that would accept me. I set up the interview at Scott & White in Temple, Texas, not because I thought I would settle for such a small and insignificant program in a town no one ever heard of, but because it would be a nice way to practice for the upcoming interviews that really mattered. Temple is a place people drive through on their way to somewhere else. Who would ever live in such a place on purpose? And then I met Glen.

When he walked in the room and introduced himself, I thought there must be some mistake. “This can’t be the residency program director”, I thought. He looked younger than me and he talked like… well I don’t know where that accent came from, but I could barely understand him, and I’m a native Texan. Our first meeting left a profound impression on me. I could tell he was a good man – honest, straightforward, passionate – but also a man I knew would be dedicated to teaching residents and who would be fun to be around. And for some strange reason he honestly thought Temple, Texas was paradise on earth. He was born and raised there and couldn’t imagine why anyone would live anywhere else.

In the years that followed, Glen Brindley became the most significant mentor of my life other than my own parents, and one of the best friends I’ve ever had. When I was still a first-year resident, he asked me if I would consider joining the faculty after residency, perhaps after a neuro-ophthalmology fellowship. I said yes (after praying about it for at least 15 seconds) knowing in my heart that God had brought me to this place to bring me closer to Himself, and that Glen would be his means to that end. I was only casually interested in neuro-ophthalmology, and still wasn’t thrilled about life in such an insignificant town, but I knew I wanted to spend my career working alongside Glen Brindley. It was my admiration for him that brought me there in the first place, and an even greater love and respect for that man two years later that convinced me to stay.

When Glen first welcomed me into his world, he was a man of faith who diligently attended church with his familiy every Sunday, who lived an upright and moral life, who loved and cared for his wife, Nell, and his two girls with all his heart, and who knew the right answers to most of life’s challenging questions. But something amazing was happening in his heart that gradually became more and more apparent to everyone who knew him. God was transforming him from a highly respected, well educated, and enormously talented ophthalmologist who happened to be a Christian, into a Christ centered, passionate servant of the living God for whom ophthalmology was simply an opportunity to glorify God through service to others.

As that transformation was just beginning, some of the residents in our program asked Glen if he would be interested in leading us in a Bible study. He confessed he had never done that before but didn’t hesitate to dive in. We met weekly at 6:00 AM so we could finish before the workday started at 7:00. A few years later he started and led a Bible Study Fellowship program in Temple that God used to bless hundreds of men and change their lives forever. Not long after that God moved Glen to begin a Sunday morning Bible class at his church that continued for decades. Every weekday Glen would rise at 4:00 AM to study his Bible for two hours before heading off to work. Then on Sunday mornings he would pour out all that God had taught him for the benefit of the young families who flocked to his class. He was a consumate teacher – enthusiastic, entertaining, precise, logical, and passionate. For Glen it was real; it was not an act. It was never to display his own talent or drive his own agenda. It was to honor and glorify the God who created him, loved him, and redeemed him. More often than not, genuine tears would flow as he would speak of God’s mercy and grace. Glen’s teaching was powerful because it was unmistakably God’s message being delivered through a humble servant whose love for Christ was infectious.

If anyone were to ask Glen why he got out of bed every morning, he would have said, “to glorify God by enjoying Him forever”. Most of us who have been graciously brought into relationship with our Savior know to answer that question the same way. It’s the right answer. For Glen, it was real. I’ve never seen anyone enjoy Christ like Glen did. As I struggle to describe my friend Glen to those who didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him before the Lord took him home, my memories and impressions of him center on the word ‘joy’. He was profoundly grateful for God’s grace, and that gratitude exploded forth in his life as unrestrained joy. If Glen was in the building, you would know it within minutes because you would hear the laugh, that unmistakable, indescribable, highly contagious laugh. I think that’s what I miss the most about Glen. No one else could ever make me smile the way he could. No matter how stressful the day, no matter how difficult life’s challenges seemed at the time, Glen would help me remember what matters most, and that profound joy is the only rational response to God’s goodness.

JLS Award Recipients

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