I was at work last night and watching CNN for "noise" as I went about my work. Tammy Faye was being interviewed by Larry King. When I heard she was going to be on I thought "oh brother" and almost changed the channel.
I have never been a fan of Tammy Faye. I don't believe in multimillion-dollar evangelism empires like the one she and her former husband Jim Baker built. It just goes against my grain to see that kind of thing. That is not to say I judge them. For all I know God may well use things I don't like or understand so it's not for me to say that God was not in that ministry, it's just that it bugs me.
But last night as I listened to the interview my admiration of Tammy Faye began to grow. I've seen few people handle the challenges she is now facing with such grace and dignity. I didn't hear anything about "self" in anything she shared. Her only real concern seemed to be for those who will be left behind when she is gone. Once, when Larry King asked if she was in pain, she responded, "all the time". She did not go on to elaborate or ask for pity. In fact, there was nothing to pity. Tammy Faye seems to have a peace and serenity that most people who do not face her challenges lack. A later guest noted that she was in pain but not "suffering" - that pain if physical but suffering in mental/emotional. She struck me as someone who has surrendered herself to God's will but not given up. The peace she exuded was truly remarkable. She even poked fun at herself. When Larry King asked what she would like to be remembered for, she jokingly said, "my eyelashes".
It is true that she contacted Larry King and requested the interview. Some may see that as a grab for publicity. I don't. Not after hearing her. I think it was a God thing. Her testimony to God's sustaining grace in the midst of pain and difficulty was amazing and I'm sure it touched many who watched.
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