Looking back in someone’s album, I found the photograph I remembered. It was one I recognized, but now I was even more puzzled. I had known the parents and the two children, although the girls were a little younger than I remembered. They were definitely the two daughters we had known. However, the confusion lay in a picture that was posted sometime later in the album on social media. It was the same family, only now there was an additional child–not a younger sibling, but one who was slightly older than the other two. I knew these parents had had only the two girls. The similarity was so strong there was no getting around the fact that the child belonged to one of the parents, but how, when? I pondered the scenario that would add an additional child to a family unit, when that child was obviously the offspring of one of the two adults. All sorts of theories came to mind.
The reality was, the third child–a replica of the man we had known–was the child of the man’s sister, and (as is often the case), I was making a judgment based on insufficient knowledge!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could have seen just ONE picture of someone’s current circumstances, perhaps several years before? Perhaps a sister married and had children, but a situation occurred and she left her home, and several years later married and had more children. Can you imagine what she would have thought had she seen a picture of herself with the second husband, with unknown children that resembled her, while she was still married the first time? Glimpses in time are not always able to be figured out!
This week Thomas Road Baptist Church is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the church; a phenomenal representation of the vision of one man who dedicated his life to following Jesus Christ. Had Jerry Falwell, Sr., been able to see a recent photograph from the top of Liberty Mountain, of the University, Thomas Road Baptist Church, the Christian school, and the annex buildings that are off-campus but very much a part of the life of Liberty University, he would probably not be as shocked as those of us who knew Lynchburg many years ago. He never underestimated the power of his God to do great things, above and beyond more than one can ask or think.
Dr. Falwell devoted his being, from the time he was a young man, to fervent prayer for guidance, wisdom, and direction for God’s will in his life. The result is a mega-church, a Christian school, and one of the largest Christian universities in the nation. Now it is the responsibility of the members to continue to be committed to the mission he began, and carry the torch of the legacy left by Dr. Falwell.
Stop here to watch the service from Thomas Road Baptist Church for Sunday, June 26, 2016, before answering the questions below. As always, you may use this as a weekly devotional, doing a question or two each day in your quiet time, studying with a friend, or using it for a guide with a group in your home. Go to http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and click on the service dated for this week. Keep your notebook handy to jot answers down!
- Read Isaiah 51:1. Why is it beneficial to occasionally look back at the person you were before salvation? Has God ever left you on your own? Write down your testimony, in case you are able to share with someone who needs to hear your story!
- We look at the past in order to see how God worked in our lives, but not to “vacation” there. Why is it important that you don’t dwell too long on the life you once lived? Read Philippians 3:13. What does this verse tell you?
- Read Jeremiah 29:11. What feelings does this verse arouse in you? Do you consider this to be a promise? Write down how this verse brings meaning to your life.
- Having a goal, or hope for the future, is crucial to good mental health. Dr. Falwell was more than just a “dreamer”–he was a “visionary.” Read Romans 10:14. He so firmly believed God could do anything he asked, that he built his life with prayer as the foundation for what he desired God to accomplish through him.
- Read Acts 2:42. How do you think this verse played out as Dr. Falwell took thirty five adults in 1956, and grew a huge university and Bible-preaching church?
- Read Acts 20:18-21. From what you’ve seen, read or know of Jerry Falwell, how closely did he live his life as Paul had lived? What type of legacy did he leave his city?
- What are some visions you have for your own future growth as a Christian? Are you waiting for a “better day,” which will make it easier to witness? Write down what you would like to see in your own life.
- Examine your heart and ask yourself if you are currently a spectator, sitting passively by as others work, or are you taking an active part in seeing your church–or family–be all it can be for Christ? You are leaving a legacy for your family or friends: what is it going to look like?
In a small room in a Bible College, Jerry Falwell prayed by the hour that God would use him to further His kingdom on earth. It has become an incredible reality. If he could see that photograph, he would be overjoyed at what God has done. As you begin a new week, realize that God is not limited to do little or much with what you are offering Him. He can take your availability and make it into massive accomplishments if you are willing to be used. As Henry Blackaby once wrote, “don’t look for God to do a work in your life–look for where God is working, and join Him there!” (A very loose paraphrase). The early church was begun with twelve disciples; by the year 300 A.D., there were 10 MILLION Christians! Pray that He would use you to help someone escape Hell, by telling them of His love!
Photograph: Copyright Robert Day, III. Used by permission.