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Rev. Jonathan Falwell speaks words of encouragement to students

August 27, 2008 : Teresa Dunham

As rain poured down outside the Vines Center on Wednesday, the Rev. Jonathan Falwell used one disciple’s actions in the midst of a storm to illustrate how students can put God’s plans for their lives into action.

Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Executive Vice President for Spiritual Affairs at Liberty University, preached at convocation from Matthew Chapter 14 about Peter jumping out of a boat and walking on water to see Christ.

Christ was walking on the water toward the disciples’ boat — and Peter wanted to be near Him.

“Peter realized the potential that came from following after Christ. He knew exactly what was available to him,” Falwell said, adding that Christ offers potential for believers today, too. “We can go out there and do things that are miraculous, that are amazing, because Christ is with us in the midst of the storm.”

When Christ called Peter to come out of the boat, he jumped at the proposition.

“He didn’t wait. He didn’t weigh out his options,” Falwell said.

Peter, who had surrounded himself with other believers in the boat, also drew strength from fellowship with like-minded individuals.

“He felt the power of God, and he realized that there was no possible way that he could have done that on his own,” he said.

Yet, as Peter walked on the stormy water, he started to fear and take his eyes off Jesus — and he began to sink. As he sank, he called to the Lord to save him, and Jesus kept Peter from drowning. The key, Falwell said, is getting through fear and stepping out in faith.

“This university is a testament to stepping out on faith,” Falwell said, recalling the work of his father, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., to start LU along with Dr. Elmer Towns in 1971.

The son also invoked the heart of a favorite quote used often by his father: “Life is full of glorious opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.”

As students seek God’s plan and presence in their lives, Falwell encouraged them to never take their eyes off God.

“I want you to know that the power that Peter felt that night through Jesus Christ on that water in that storm 2,000 years ago is the same power that you can feel today if you will trust him and put your life in his hands,” he said.