The passing today of Joe Paterno, or JoePa as he was affectionately called by many, is indeed a sad event here in Happy Valley. A lot of us at church spoke of him this morning and I will never forget my first time meeting him. I was just starting the church and trying to canvass as much of the area as I could. So I was walking door to door with Bible and gospel tracts in hand telling folks about the Lord and the startup of a new church here. As I approached his door, not knowing it was his, I raised a fist to knock on the door of his modest home and suddenly a car pulled into the driveway just below the patio I was standing on and glancing over I saw him ! A lump came to my throat. I had admired him since playing football myself in upstate Pennsylvania. Someone always had a radio playing near the bench with the Penn State game on as we were playing ours. I tried to compose myself and gather my thoughts thinking what exactly I’d say to this football legend.
As Joe got out of his car I greeted him and told him who I was and why I was there (assuring him I wasn’t there for an autograph or casing his joint !). I then tried to ease into the gospel by relating to him that having played football I admired his coaching but even moreso his longstanding principles he had instilled in the young men he coached. I asked him if he had ever spoken much to any of his players about the matter of faith in God and he said not really and he told me he wasn’t as good a churchgoer as his wife. He politely said he was also just getting home from practice and Sue, his wife, was waiting for him to come home so they could eat dinner. I told him I didn’t want to hold them up but offered him a gospel tract and urged him to read the very important message in it about his need to be saved and asked him to please take a few moments to read it and call if he had any questions. He took the tract and promised me he would read it through and then having appreciated my comments about his coaching and principles he said this to me, “Thank you pastor, but yours is a far more important job !”
Thinking about this man today, I do not know for sure he received the Lord, I do know he had the opportunity though. And what about you? have you received Christ yet before its eternally too late? And what kind of legacy will you leave behind? Paul left a fantastic one and what he wrote in his “swan song” of 2 Timothy speaks volumes of what Christ can do to one life, even a wicked Saul of Tarsus. Paul wrote, “For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth is laid up for me a crown or righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (4:6-8). I sure hope one day I will see JoePa again on gilded roads in glory, but that’s only one hope we should all have, the other: leaving a rich spiritual legacy as we leave this life of a person that lived for Him. Each day you have that opportunity as well, don’t squander it, life is a precious gift from the Lord and today His opportunities for you abound, seize them for Him !!