Because of the state tournament — my parenting and coaching responsibilities — I won’t arrive in North Carolina today for the celebration of the life of Landon Saunders.
The people who organized it told me that Landon only had one request when they told him they were doing it: he wanted his preacher to speak on Sunday morning. (I’m sure that story is hyperbolic, but it still means a lot to me.)
When I was a college student at Harding University from ’74 to ’78, Landon came through several times. His clarity, his passion, his faith, and his voice captivated me. Later I got ahold of the lectures on preaching that he gave at ACU in the ’70s. They altered my life. I nearly memorized the message called “The Marketplace.” (Anyone else out there remember being impacted by those messages? “The Wilderness.” “The Wolf.” “The Marketplace.” One or two others whose titles I can’t remember.)
During the seven years I preached at the College Church in Searcy, he often came through and we became friends. He was such a great encourager and clarifier.
But it’s in the past dozen years that he’s become one of the most significant men in my life. About the age of my father. The vigor of a 40 year old. And the joy of a kid. That’s Landon.
Our dear friends James and Marla Walters moved from AR to NH to work with Heartbeat, and it was through them that we became so close to Landon.
I’d give up almost anything to be there this weekend for the celebration.
Anything except this trip to the state tournament with my son!