Theology

Remembering A Hero Of The Faith

What other-worldly level of strength, character, and faithfulness would it take for your spouse to write this about you after fifty (50!) years of marriage?

A brilliant thinker who could engage any scholar on that level, a consummate professional writer who could pack more into three paragraphs than anyone I ever knew, a tender-hearted lover of poetry who regaled us all with Thanatopsis and Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (all stanzas!), and a man with a sweet grin and sense of humor which sometimes veered into intricate puns and corny jokes which he delighted in telling and re-telling to any willing listener. He was nonjudgmental, humble in spirit, kind in manner and as Jesus described Nathanael, “a man in whom there is no guile.” He cherished me for over 50 years, since our first Florida College days, delighted in our two wonderful children, and loved his six precious grandchildren who gave him great joy and hope for the future.

— Sara Faye Fudge

Edward Fudge and Doug Smith
Edward Fudge with Doug  (2014)

This is the fruit of a life well lived—all-in—focused on what is most important in this world. This is what all men should aspire to become. Not necessarily a brilliant scholar, but one whom those closest to him could say “a man in whom there is no guile.” And every husband should live so that his wife could say of him “he cherished me for over 50 years.”

I had the honor of attending Edward Fudge’s memorial service in Franklin, TN this past week. It was the most joyful, faith-filled, honoring celebration of a life well lived I’ve ever attended. His brothers, children, and grandchildren lined up to speak beautiful words of love and gratitude for their brother, dad, and grandpa. He was remembered as a gracious, warm, and funny genius. One video showed all these traits as he recited poetry from memory while balancing a coffee cup on his head.

What I took away from his memorial service was the inspiration of a life lived in wholehearted devotion to Christ, and the fruit produced after 73 years. He was faithful with what he was given, and persevered through trials of every kind, especially through serious and painful illnesses during the past few years. Through it all, he maintained grace, humility, and a selfless desire to love God and others.

We helped promote the movie made about Edward’s life and work a few years ago. My favorite memories of that time are my personal interactions with Edward. Earlier this year, I thanked him for one of his recent gracEmail messages where he shared details of his suffering and God’s grace in the middle of it. Here is Edward’s reply:

Thanks, brother. If you only knew the whole story, you would see how flawed, weak, and broken I really am. (Of course, those simply set up the situation for God to show his power, faithfulness, and grace, don’t they?)

You are an example of faithful discipleship to me and to others who know you.

Cordially,
Edward

This was mind-blowing to me. In the middle of his pain, he humbly pointed to God’s grace, and reached out to encourage others selflessly. Here’s another example. I told Edward about the the new book I’m working on and asked him for his endorsement, not knowing how far his health had declined. He kindly wrote this to me just two months before his last breath:

Congratulations on the book! I am delighted to be an endorser of your work; it sounds like a very timely topic! Your experience with technology combined with your God-driven sense of ministry will no doubt produce a product that blesses and brings healing to those who struggle.

Best to you and yours,
Cordially,
Edward

Again, Edward demonstrated other-worldly levels of selfless kindness in the middle of terrible suffering.

If you’re discouraged by a world full of fakes, of surprise revelations of infidelity, or if you’re even questioning whether the Christian faith is real because of the way some Christians have let you down, I want to encourage you to consider the life of Edward Fudge. He’s a real hero with the character traits we all, by the grace of God, can strive to attain.

Here’s Edward’s final statement from his memorial program:

I will be sorry to miss out on what you guys are doing in years to come, but that is the way with generations coming and going. Always trust God–He is real although invisible, and that is the most important thing you can do. Be nice to each other and support each other. I love you and will see you on Resurrection Morning!

I intend to follow this advice with a renewed sense of purpose, vision, and intentionality. Thank you, Edward, for teaching us, by your words and your life’s example, right up to your last breath, and far beyond. Your influence will only increase.

If you’re interested, I’ve written more about Edward Fudge and his teachings here, here, and here. And, you can stream the excellent movie about his inspiring life and work right now at hellandmrfudge.org.

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