May 16, 2009

The Day My Father Died

By Jonathan Falwell

A day that started like any other on May 15, 2007, turned out to be the most horrifying day of my life. I awakened, showered, had breakfast, drove my kids to school – everything was in order. And then I received a call from my mother saying that my father was "missing."

As I recounted in my book "One Great Truth," I was not concerned since Dad often forgot to turn on his cell phone after making a media appearance or presiding over a meeting. But Mom's concern turned out to be legitimate. A few minutes later I received a call telling me that I needed to get to my father's office quickly. When I arrived there, I found Liberty University paramedics frantically working on him as he lay on his office floor unconscious.

Dad was pronounced dead at our local hospital not long afterward. My world had fallen apart. My father, mentor, friend and closest adviser was suddenly gone. I had never felt more alone.

I remember my father saying that living the Christian life means enduring from one tragedy to the next. In essence, a tragedy awaits all of us down the road. May 15, 2007, presented to me the tragedy that I had hoped would not come for a long time. As I've noted, Dad gave an impression of indestructibleness, like a giant bear. And suddenly he was gone.

Within days, I was voted pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, the church my father had led for more than five decades. My brother, Jerry Jr., was named chancellor of Liberty University, the school Dad started in 1971. Still in shock and deep emotional pain, the burden of leadership was placed on our shoulders.

I can seriously state here that I do not think I could have carried on in ministry after that day if it were not for our wonderful Savior who has, for two years now, filled me with His wondrous grace and strength. On all the occasions that I've said, "I can't," God has said, "Yes, you can – with Me."

The phrase "Not I, but Christ" literally has become my refuge as doubt gripped my heart and soul in those days following Dad's death.

To this day, two years after his passing, I continue to be amazed that I can stand in my father's pulpit each Sunday and find the words to encourage and hearten our church members. I am still often astonished that I have the privilege of carrying on Dad's work in so many ways, including writing this column.

Two years ago, ministry and the encouragement of others were the furthest things on my mind.

I have learned and relearned a very important lesson since then. It is this: God is our tower of strength who bolsters us with His divine, unspeakable strength when we think we literally cannot carry on.

Christian friend, if you have recently lost a loved one or you are going through a time of great heartbreak, I pray that you will allow the gentle arms of our Savior to embrace you and provide the comfort that cannot be understood until it is experienced. If you are encountering marital problems, a layoff or health setback, God wants to take you in His loving arms.

There's a great old song that says this:
Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.
We can literally have joy amid our anguish when we give our pain, our grief and our troubles to Jesus.

I close with two great verses of hope:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV).


The day my father died - WorldNetDaily