Today Jerry Falwell has died at 73. To a graduate of Liberty University this is heartbreaking to me.
Many may remember him for his controversial statements…many times I would cringe when I heard them. But I hope this is not how he is remembered. Most hear what they want to….he never said the Teletubbies were gay. Get your facts straight and research it yourself. Actually, when that controversy hit he received bunches of plush teletubbies in the mail. What did he do? Burn them? Nope. Gave them to his grandkids.
Someone on the news said that he would be remembered as a political figure. Well that just pisses me off. I don’t remember him like that at all. I remember him as a Godly influence on my life.
Another thing that pisses me off are the cartoons that depict him as a man of hate. He hated no one. He loved everyone. And he loved Christ the most. I guess if you stand on principle today your seen as a hatemonger.
I remember stories of how he built Thomas Road Baptist Church by knocking on a hundred doors a day…all in a suit.
I remember how he spoke fondly of the Elam homes for alcoholics and his Liberty Godparent home, which provided room and board for unwed mothers who have chosen life for their unborn child.
I remember him as a joker. I remember him running his big black Suburban up on the sidewalk acting like he was going to run over you…. then laughing hysterically when you jumped out of the way. I remember how he could remember your name, even though it had been a year since you were introduced, and you were 1 of thousands at the school. I remember how he came up behind me at a drive through and blew his horn while I was trying to give my order – then waving with a laugh to let me know who it was. I remember being there when he crowd surfed during a basketball game.
Make no doubt about it – he loved his students dearly. I remember stories when I was an undergrad how students would meet him outside of his office to ask for financial help so they could continue to go to school. His big heart could never say no.
I remember him as always donning a suit. I think he slept in a suit. I remember him fasting for 40 days for a specific prayer – and the prayer to be answered…. then going into another 40 day fast shortly after.
I remember him as a great man a faith – probably the greatest man of faith I have ever witnessed – a faith giant if you will. I think any professor at LU would agree with this. He would have these outlandish goals and pray KNOWING God would provide.
I remember him as a fairly reserved person who would always put on his preacher voice when he got in front of the mic…. then was floored when I saw him stand to his feet during a moving song with tears streaming down his face and his hands lifted high in praise.
I remember him as someone who would stand for what was right whether it was popular or not…and would proclaim the gospel no matter how controversial it appeared.
We have lost a modern day prophet. And now I ask, who will carry the torch? Who will stand for the moral issues of our time? I worry. I see no figure on the horizon who is as bold, who is as balanced in his beliefs, and who carries the weight of his influence – someone who isn’t afraid of criticism – someone with thick skin – someone who relishes a challenge – someone who is bold. “But there shouldn’t be religion in politics.” Then where do morals belong? Shall we allow America…no…the world to plunge into darkness. Yes – Christ is the answer. No we shouldn’t be surprised when the lost act like the lost. Yet we must stand for what is right while we carry Christ to the world. Lincoln stood against slavery…because he know in the core of his being it was wrong. We must do the same against those things we know God is against. Wow…and that dude was president. We must push back the darkness by carrying the light.
Those of us as graduates of Liberty must carry the torch. We must carry the FLAME. We are the Liberty Flames. I don’t think that mascot is an accident. Falwell saw his legacy in his students, not in politics. He was able to multiply himself over by thousands, and undoubtedly, hundreds of thousands, if not millions have been influenced by him.
I leave Friday morning for Lynchburg. I graduate with my masters this Saturday from Liberty. It will be bittersweet. I’m not sure how it is going to play out. We’ll see. But I challenge you to look at his work ethic and his impact on the world. That challenges me.
Lastly, I remember this investment he made in me through LU. I am forever changed because of it.