Monday, December 21, 2009

Greater Is He That Is In Me-My Tribute To Oral Roberts

I have been surfing the articles and blogs about the death of Oral Roberts. It is a little depressing. To read them, one would think Oral was little more than a snake oil salesman to those of us that are too na├»ve or uneducated to see through his act. The 900 foot Jesus, prayer hands, the “God will take me home” speech, the dead baby incident and his hocking of religion are all featured prominently in every article. Little is mentioned about the man himself, who he was and what he did for those he helped find Jesus or why he did the “crazy” things he did, believing he was acting in obedience to the Father God he loved. Just criticisms of a character they never knew.

One of the little known facts about my life is my two years at Oral Roberts University. It was a place I had wanted to go to school more than anywhere-except Harvard, which was financially
out of the question. For me, being accepted to ORU was a badge of honor. They didn’t admit just anyone and back in the early 80’s, that was saying something. The students that went to ORU were the cream of the crop, academically, spiritually and physically. No one coasted through their classes there-it was as if this Christian University had a chip on its shoulder and had to prove their students could fair with the best in the country. We worked hard, prayed hard, laughed hard, and forged relationships with others that would last a lifetime.

I have to admit, I didn’t always agree with Oral and Richard but I was never asked to give up my analytical mind in order to attend. The “Name it, Claim it-Blab it, Grab it” prosperity mentality they espoused did not jive with what I knew to be true. I struggled with the “Us vs Them” mentality that sometimes crept in to every conversation about ministering to the world. And we all hated the dress code, especially in winter. But the desire to be better people and learn to become disciples of Jesus was never lacking. We all had weaknesses; we all strove to change. In the end, we learned to be the Salt of the Earth, giving flavor to the world without becoming like those who we wanted to save.

To read these blogs, one would think that Oral was a crazy “Jim Jones” who had convince thousands of convulsing charismatics to give up their life’s fortune so he could live in a mansion. Really, if that’s what he did with my money, I don’t know. I gave freely, feeling God’s leading to contribute, believing it was given to further God’s kingdom.

I do know this: He wasn’t the Charlatan of his SNL stereotype. He believed in a great God, who sent His Son, Jesus to save us from our sins, to heal us from our diseases and to live according to His good will and purpose. Oral made mistakes; he sinned like the rest of us. No, he wasn’t ever healed of his hip problem-Paul was never healed of his either. Even Job was tried. He questioned, was corrected and his faith became stronger. Maybe that’s what happened with Oral, too.

And in the end, that’s what it’s about, for me. No matter the trial, the triumph, the victory or failure, is my relationship with the God whom I serve becoming stronger-and was his. Because when all is stripped away and we are standing there before our Savior, did we draw people closer to Jesus or did we drive them away. Will Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” or “Depart from me. I never knew you.” I believe, whatever his foibles, there was a great celebration in heaven for a servant who completed his race, remaining faithful to the God he loved. Did Oral Roberts push the envelope? Yeah, maybe so. Did he take people out of their comfort zones and encourage them to want more of God? I know he did with me.

To the critics and naysayers, I say pull the log out of your own eye first. The world is a better place because of men like Oral Roberts. Many have been healed, clothed, fed and saved because of his influence on his “flock” of students. To those who loved what he believed and embraced it, well, I guess I am preaching to the choir. We can only hope for the “welcome home” he got from Jesus.

With great affection,
Linda Trimmer-Annalora
Oral Roberts University 1981-1983

1 comment:

  1. RVSisters - from Smart Girl... Hope you start to blog again!