Sometimes, it feels like forever since I heard the news that Dr. Falwell had passed away, but after times like past Friday’s convocation, I realize that only a few short months ago, he was still alive on this earth and very alive in this campus.
As the copy editor of the Champion, I read every article that is submitted for the week’s paper. Many times this fall I have crossed out mentions of Dr. Falwell and phrases he always said because they were not relevant to the story. For some reason, though, we all just wanted to keep remembering him when it came to Liberty and its future. Although he is gone, his vision remains.
When I first decided to come to Liberty, people would always ask me what I thought of Dr. Falwell. What I told them was that I had no opinion, because up to that point, I really knew nothing about this man. My first months at Liberty gave me a small picture of who he was, but it was not until the days after he died until I finally formed my real opinion of Dr. Falwell.
From a young age, I have wanted to be a journalist, and my high school life was filled with hours of writing – for enjoyment, for school, for the future. Before I had ever met Dr. Falwell, his idea of big, hairy, audacious goals was in my life in the form of a dreamer’s tale. These past few months, however, I found my dreams caught up in a swirl of schoolwork and responsibility to the point where I wonder whether I am making decisions just to decide and whether my future is heading in its specific direction just because I do not really know what I want to do.
Friday brought me back to a piece of myself that I had lost somewhere along the roads of Lynchburg. Some people tell me it is because I am a Yankee below the Mason-Dixon line, some say it is because I miss my mother, but now I know that the reason we often lose sight of our vision is because we fail to focus on it and remember why we are here.
When I saw Dr. Falwell reading the song by Don Wyrtzen that he wanted to be played at his funeral, I realized why Dr. Falwell had been such a great man. Those two minutes were the only time I ever saw him choked up when he was speaking. He was talking about Heaven.
Dr. Falwell had big, hairy, audacious goals for this earth, but they were always rooted in something much bigger than himself, Lynchburg or the oval office of this United States of America. Dr. Falwell lived for Heaven, and he loved his savior. From that came great inspiration, drive and a desire to see great things done for God.
We often do not know what we have had until we lose it, and it is definitely much easier to see the right way to go in hindsight.
What I have been reminded of, though, is that we are called to be faithful in the present as we will not always have the luxury of looking behind. That means we must constantly renew our vision as we remember what we are living for. When I think of Heaven, I smile, but I do not want to get there after a mediocre life.
Heaven keeps me pushing myself, so that after life’s mountains and valleys, straight roads and crooked paths, I will find my job completed, well done and fitting for my efforts.
Johnnie Moore said that after Dr. Falwell died, he felt a great sense of duty pass on to him. Although Dr. Falwell’s goals are not mine to implement, I, too, feel a sense of duty, but I feel it to my Savior. God gives us great visions for life, and to whom much is given, much is required.
The reminder of Dr. Falwell’s life was an inspiration to me to keep pushing. God looks to do great things in all of our lives. We are only required to be faithful to him to see it completed.
In the days after Dr. Falwell’s death, I witnessed the media coverage of his death and the backlash of those who had been offended by Dr. Falwell and his bold statements. I was appalled at the tiny sliver of Dr. Falwell that was presented to the world in those days. No mention was given to the 10,000 students grieving or his university’s campus, and no word was heard from the thousands more who had graduated during his lifetime.
Instead, the focus lingered on Dr. Falwell’s involvement in politics and his many controversial statements.
When people asked me what I thought of Dr. Falwell in the days before I came here, no doubt they were alluding to his celebrity nature among politics and Christianity. For me, however, Dr. Falwell is a different person. He is the man who gave me the opportunity to go to a distinctly Christian school yet get my education – to live out my dreams while openly loving my Savior.
I could have gone to any school in nation, and my bags were almost packed for a secular powerhouse. Instead, I found a place where I would find Christian principles in leadership and the same beliefs and devotion to excellence among my peers.
Soon enough I will find myself at my first job interview, and it is likely that I will again have to answer questions both about what I think of Dr. Falwell and why I graduated from Liberty University. I now know that I will answer in confidence. Dr. Falwell was a great man, and Liberty was the only place where I could find that real education as well as a true focus on God.
If Dr. Falwell taught me anything, it was that we must always push forward 100 percent with our beliefs no matter what others say, especially about what we believe. I am not afraid to face the world and their opinion of my God, my school or my former chancellor.
When God is for us, who can stand against us?