Sunday was Father’s Day, and as millions of people spent time with their loving dads, so I did with mine. People sometimes ask where I get my strong compassion for others, my goofy sense of humor, and my charming good looks. Okay, perhaps they don’t ask the last one as often. At any rate, I would have to say from my wonderfully awesome father, Ronnie Stewart.
Throughout my life, as Dad has reared me into the man I am today, he has guided me with love and support, and has taught me so many life lessons along the way. I am blessed beyond measure to have such a wonderful Dad. I am equally blessed to learn so much from such a strong man of God.
First, Dad has taught me to love life and never be afraid to show your sense of humor, as goofy and absurd as it may be to others. People who know my Dad, knows that he loves to brighten the days of others with laughter, jokes, and sometimes pranks. Some of these pranks have been played on an unsuspecting son who by now should probably know when he’s pulling a joke, but occasionally I am still left clueless.
I still remember one joke he played on me when I was in high school. I was watching television when I heard my Dad calling out to me in a panicked tone of voice. When I rushed to the kitchen, I saw that he had a bandaged hand that was red all over. After seeing me freaked out for a few seconds asking him what I should do, he chuckled and told me that it was just red food coloring.
For as long as I’ve known him, my Dad loves to joke around and he will go out of his way to pull off an elaborate prank. That is one of the many things I love about my Dad, the fact that God gave him such a unique sense of humor. Sure, when a practical joke is played on me, I might not be all smiles at first, but later, looking back on a joke, I realize that I have a Dad who loves to have fun and loves to make people laugh.
Second, my Dad loves God, and he loves others. One of the many things Dad has instilled in me is the desire to be kind to others and treat people with respect, especially those whom society sometimes overlooks. My Dad has a heart for others, especially those with special needs. When Dad is not working with students with special needs at work, he is helping my grandparents care for some really awesome adopted kiddoes. He has shown me that everyone is unique, special, created by God, and deserves to be treated with love and dignity. Anyone with a disability may be different than you or me, but that does not make that person any less of a person. Every human being has been created in God’s likeness and can be used for His glory.
I am absolutely amazed by the love that my Dad has for others. The things he does day in and day out for kids gives me pride in my father. I’m not ashamed to say that I am proud of my Dad. He works with kids who just want to be loved, to be treated with respect, and sometimes they just need another voice to speak on their behalf, and my Dad takes joy in being that voice. He has shown me that everyone deserves to be treated with respect, and if someone is being taken advantage of, we need to have the courage to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless.
Third, my Dad has instilled in me the value of loving God with all my heart, to lean on God’s understanding rather than my own, and to trust God’s plan even when times are difficult. We both have had our share of difficulties. He waited on me hand and foot when I was in the hospital my Senior year of high school, and I did the same for him several years later when he was in the hospital.
There have been times when my Dad could have thrown in the towel and say, “God, this is impossible.” But you see, that’s not how he’s wired. He has faced many challenges: going back to school to earn a degree, a difficult year of algebra, colon cancer, chemo, and another sickness not long afterwards. Yet every single time, he has chosen to give God all the glory and to praise Him in every circumstance. He has shown me that life will not always be easy, but when we trust in God, He will guide our every footstep. God has helped him overcome all those obstacles, meanwhile, He has given my Dad the continued endurance to run every race with determination. In every circumstance, we must trust in the Lord’s sovereignty and know that He can use us and every part of us.
Last October, I was having one of the worst days, health wise, that I have had in quite some time. I remember it being during Missions Emphasis Week, and after complaining to God about my situation, I felt my phone vibrate just before I attended a seminar on engaging those of other faiths. I looked down at my phone and realized that I got a text from Dad. At the time, my Dad was experiencing more pain than I could imagine. I still remember his text verbatim. It said, “It came to me in my weakness that God moves strong. He’s shaping me into something awesome for His glory alone. Show me this text in a month and we’ll praise Him together. Love you boy!”
As I got emotional, I thanked God for giving me such an amazing father. Sure life is rough at times, but we can always turn to our Lord and Savior. If I have learned anything from my Dad it’s that we will face challenges, but in those challenges we must put our hope and trust in the Lord. Only in Him can we find true strength. Plus, it is the challenges and trials we face that allow us to fully rely on Him, and He can use every circumstance for His glory.
Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God tells us that He will never leave or forsake us. So what do we have to fear? In whatever we face, God can use those challenges for His glory. In our weaknesses, God does move strong!
In my 21 1/2 years on this Earth, my Dad has taught me many things. One, have a sense of humor and be yourself. Two, love and speak up for others. Three, trust in God no matter the circumstance. Now, as I enjoy spending time with Dad watching Star Trek, and soon football season will be here, I am thankful for all the wisdom he has shown me. He has achieved so much such as getting a degree and has conquered so much such as cancer.
Another thing Dad has taught me is that I can share my past, my story, my testimony, but I don’t have to dwell on the past. So I share these things not to dwell on them, but to encourage others and to give a message of hope that no matter what, we can trust in Him. God has so much in store for my Dad and me, and we don’t know what that future will be, but as long as it’s with God, it will be a bright future. Therefore, with the same positivity my Dad has shown me, I share parts of our story, yet I look to the future because I know that God has a plan for us. Like Isaiah 43:18-19a tells me, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Dad, when you read this, know that I am incredibly proud of you. I love you and I thank God for giving me an example of what a true man of God really is. Someday, if I am half the man you are today, I know that my kids will understand what it means to truly live for Jesus.
Thank you for showing me that GOD MOVES STRONG!
New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 24 June. 2015.
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