Rashad Jennings speaks at convo on the lawn 2018

Students brought out the sunscreen and the parasols this past Friday, May 4, for Liberty University’s second annual Convocation on the Lawn.

The weather was a sunny 88 degrees and students, in a rather historic moment, were allowed to wear shorts.

“Pants are overrated,” junior Nathan Volz said. “They constrain us and hold back. Shorts equal freedom.”

The event started at its typical 10:30 a.m. time, but some students arrived early to tailgate. They played corn hole, grilled hotdogs and played music celebrating the last Convocation of the school year.

Event production staff worked some Thursday and all morning Friday setting up chairs and turning the steps of the Montview Student Union into a stage for the Worship Collective, who this year was accompanied by a large choir from the School of Music.

“It’s really cool to be on stage and see all the people worshiping together,” Amanda Brooks, a choir member, said.

President Jerry Falwell opened Convocation by congratulating students on making it to the end of the year and letting them know what’s in store for Liberty’s future construction projects.

Falwell showed slides of the new School of Business that is currently under construction and upgrades to the Hill dorms.

Of all the new plans coming in the next few years, students seemed most excited about the announcement of a new parking garage.

“The parking on East is atrocious,” junior Dylan Crespo said. “It will be nice to have a parking garage, so I don’t have to park in Zone 4.”

The guest speaker for this year’s #lawnvo was former Liberty student and NFL running back Rashad Jennings.

Jennings spoke about how, throughout life, we find ourselves in boxes and how the key to success is learning to dismantle those boxes.

“People are always putting themselves in boxes,” Jennings said. “If God wanted us to live inside of a box, (he would have) created our bodies at a 90-degree angle.”

Jennings told a story about playing football in high school, where he first learned he had talent.

He was playing fifth string running back during the final game of the season when all the other running backs were injured. After trying to avoid it, the coach put him in, and Jennings scored four touchdowns to win the game.

Afterward, a Tennessee scout came up to Jennings and told him something he had never heard before.

‘’He said, ‘Rashad, you have potential,’” Jennings said. “For the first time in my life, somebody saw potential in me.”

From that point on, Jennings realized he had to step out of his insecurity in order to realize that potential and become a great athlete.

“I completely turned my life around and did a 180,” Jennings said. “Through that, there was a box I had to break out (of) and dismantle in order to become the person and find the positions I find myself in today.”

He encouraged students to dismantle their own boxes by leaving worthless things, never backing down and connecting oneself with Christ to find God’s plan for one’s life.

“God already knows what he has put within you … God knows your talents, your gifts and your purpose,” Jennings said. “It’s important to remove the top of the box, so there is a direct connection between you, and our lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

Jennings closed by talking about having a relationship with Christ.

“No matter what you decide to do in life, if you keep God first, and you keep chasing him and pursuing him, he will always show up in the midst of everything,” Jennings said.

Afterward, Liberty quarterback Buckshot Calvert joined Jennings in throwing footballs into the crowd. Anyone who caught one would win a free, signed copy of Jennings new book“The If In Life,” which was also available for students to purchase at a discounted price after Convocation.

“I liked his box metaphor for overcoming obstacles,” senior Jackson Evans said. “I got his book because I want to use it for summer small group.”

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