Summary: You know the Christian life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And having been a Christian now 54 years, coming to the Lord as a college sophomore, I don’t remember much except this life in Christ. And I would rather die today than not to finish well.
Dr. Falwell, speaker to Liberty University student body, faculty and staff
Convocation in Vines Center – December 5, 2005
In the New Testament the apostle Paul had about finished his ministry and was bound for Rome to appeal his case before Caesar. He had been charged with preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was bound for a martyr’s grave, but en route and before taking that road to Rome, he made a visit of a number of places he had preached. One of them was Ephesus. And he wanted to meet with the elders and say one final thing to them.
As this calendar semester comes to a conclusion, most of you now are completing the first quarter of your life and ministry. I’m a sports addict and I think of life in terms of quarters—four of them. You’re in your first one, I’m in my fourth. I may well be over into overtime but we all are at some point in the spectrum of life, and for most of you, in the first quarter. Most of the big things are out in front of you and I want to challenge you to determine that “I’m going to be a champion for Christ. I am not going to waste the talent, the influence, the time, the potential I have in the 21st century—I am going to make a difference in the world.”
One of the great delights of my life is talking with the students here at Liberty University. When I come to a ball game I sit right over here in the corner with my wife and I usually get a few hundred visitors before the game is over—they all have a camera—and we get a picture made, but more importantly, I get to find out who you are and what your name is. While I’m driving around the campus . . . some of you with a lot of courage, when I’m stopped in traffic . . . you’ll open the door and jump in. I take you to the next stop. I find out who you are and where you’re going. I don’t mean where you’re going today, but where you’re going down the road because today in this room are young lawyers in the making and business persons, and pastors, missionaries and evangelists, and educators.
When I watch the 90 Seconds Around Liberty each Wednesday here at Convocation, I am always amazed at what is going on with the kids. I learn as much from that as you do, because frankly, this is such a busy place no one person can be “plugged” in at every event and into every happening. The potential in this room right now, the potential in your lives yet future, is unlimited. But it’s so important that you finish well.
You know the Christian life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And having been a Christian now 54 years, coming to the Lord as a college sophomore, I don’t remember much except this life in Christ. And I would rather die today than not to finish well. I think of so many who haven’t finished well. I think of President Nixon who was such a great President, and then because of one dumb mistake, one thing called Watergate, he blemished his legacy. I think of President Bill Clinton, so gifted, so talented, so brilliant . . . probably the smartest politician I’ve ever heard . . . but didn’t have the personal character to guard his own behavior, his own testimony, and he left a terrible influence for the children, the young people of America.
And I think of baseball great Pete Rose, who was one of my heroes; I thought he was the greatest “hustler” on the field I’d ever seen. With energy bursting, he set records that will never be broken, but because of a few dumb mistakes, he’s not in the Hall of Fame. There’s also Mike Tyson, there’s TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart, and there are men and women who started well, who were very distinctive in their early days that made a difference, which made a name for themselves and then because of the lack of character, commitment, or lack of a Christian worldview, somehow stepped off the track and were disqualified. May God never allow that in your life.
Dr. J. Robert Clinton, professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, did a study of male leadership in the Bible and determined that the scriptural stories of great men only 30 percent of them really finished well. I want you to finish well. You’re going home for a month, some of you are graduating this week, others of you in another year . . . . two, three, four . . . but the day will come when you walk across the platform right here and I’ll hand you a piece of paper that says you’ve finished the first quarter in your life. But I want to tell you, it’s how you play the fourth quarter that makes the difference. In the world of track and field, the issue is, “Does he have a great kick on the final lap?” In the field of boxing, “Has he been twelve rounds before?” Can you fight the championship fight? And my prayer is for you and my prayer for me is, that we will all have great fourth quarters and we’ll finish well with dignity.