Who Will Fill His Shoes?
By Kathryn M. Graves
-- Jerry Falwell has passed away. The news flashed across the country and around the world. He was one of the greatest evangelical leaders of our time. As Jerry Johnston stated in an interview with Fox news, many of us wonder who will be the next great leader of his caliber. Not many candidates are readily identifiable.
I remember when I first met Dr. Falwell. He was sitting in the booth for Liberty University at the Southern Baptist Convention. Our family walked through the exhibit because our son was considering the school. I later saw him on a number of other occasions because Jeremy did attend Liberty. I never could say I knew him, but I almost felt like I did, especially after reading his life story.
Jerry didn’t come from a family of preachers as one might expect. His was a family well-known for its business interests, not for its religious fervor. He was just a kid who decided to go to Bible college. But God had plans for Jerry Falwell, big plans.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:27,
“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.”
This doesn’t mean Dr. Falwell was foolish or weak prior to being called by God, but it does mean God often chooses the least likely in the world’s eyes. Consider David, the youngest
of Jesse’s sons. Merely a shepherd when Samuel found him, not even his father suspected God had chosen him to be king.
When I ponder the marvelous things God did through Falwell, I’m certain the man gave all credit to God and rightfully so. But there is a certain quality about one through whom God does amazing things. It is obedience. Neither Thomas Road Baptist Church nor Liberty University would exist today if Dr. Falwell had decided they were impossible dreams or required too much work. God gave the vision and Jerry Falwell put in the long, hard hours.
How many of us either don’t catch God’s vision for our lives or decide we don’t really want to make the sacrifices it will require?
Jeremiah 29:11 says,
“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”
If we would simply get on board with God and do His bidding, we might be amazed at what He would accomplish.
I know the struggle. I’ve been called to write. My name may never be a household word like Dr. Falwell’s, but I still need to obey. In my daily routine, if I let a day go by without writing, it’s usually because I found something else to do. Only God knows the plans He has for me. I can trust they’re for my good because God is trustworthy. It’s a sin for me not to obey since that indicates I don’t really trust God.
Do our daily actions demonstrate trust in God? Will we allow God to fulfill all the plans He has for our lives? Do we even know what those plans are? Take a moment to reflect on Dr. Falwell’s life and on your own. We may not be famous, but we
are not insignificant. Join me in the decision to let God have His perfect way. Who knows? The next great evangelical leader may be you.
Kathryn M. Graves and her husband live in Kansas where he is a pastor. She has a B.A. in Psychology and has written pre-sermon sketches, articles for the Kansas/Nebraska Baptist Digest, and a story in the book When God Steps In: True Stories of Transformation by God’s Grace. Kathryn loves cats, teaching Bible studies, flower gardening, and vacations at the lake.
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