“Rachael Sierra Stewart.” Hearing your name and watching you walk across the stage overwhelmed my heart with a flood of emotions. There was a sense of pride as the evidence of years of hard work had finally paid off. You finished in the top ten percent of your class, and we both know this was not a part of the genetic makeup you received from me. There was a sense of disappointment as I watched you close a chapter of your life. While there are many more chapters for you to write, the pen that has allowed me to help author many chapters is drying of ink. This is your story to write. A wise father will now limit the use of his pen to preserve the ink he has left for more critical places in the book. There was a sense of joy as I thought about all of the potential I could see in you. Although you were born in America, I could still say to you if you were born in any country of the world, “the sky is the limit.” There was a sense of shock. How did you go from the helpless little baby who stared a hole in me in the delivery room, to the graceful and elegant lady I was looking at on stage? But, there was a sense of curiosity. What could I give to you that would most help you in the journey ahead?
I cannot help but wonder if this was not the thought of Jacob’s heart in that tender scene as he lay on his deathbed. Jacob had carried the fear he would never see Joseph again, but what a surprise when he was able to see both Joseph and his young sons. Jacob seized the moment and laid his hands on the heads of his grandsons, and Genesis 48: 15-16 records, “And he blessed Joseph, and said…bless the lads…” When a father conferred a blessing on his child, sometimes it was bestowing of material gifts, and other times it was offering a prophecy of what the child would accomplish in life. However, it is clear that Jacob had one goal in mind. He wanted the blessing of God’s favor upon the lives of his son and grandchildren. I have learned in life that the most difficult decisions are not always choosing between good and bad. It is having to choose between the good and the best. I could give to you money and material things, and if used wisely, they are good things. Yet, while those things might ensure a good start in life, they cannot guarantee a strong finish for you. I have often wondered whatever became of the children who were brought to Jesus for His blessing. I do not know if any of them became pastors, missionaries, or even great world leaders. But, what I do know is the fact they lived a blessed life. Since God is the only one we know for sure that will see you to your journey’s end, it seems the best gift would be for you to have God’s prolonged favor upon your life. This blessing will come with a cost, but it will ensure you receive those things that money cannot buy.
I give to you the blessing of my prayers. In Job 1:5, we read that Job “rose up early in the morning” to intercede for his already grown children. It goes on to state, “…Thus did Job continually.” There is no way you could even fathom the decisions and dilemmas you will face in life. But, the one thing you can count on is the fact you will never face a day that I will not be praying for you. This may seem like a small thing to you today, but it will have a cumulative effect in your life. The prayers I will pray for you will be so specific and strategic that God will still be answering them in your life long after my presence on earth has been removed. So, just know you can arise every morning and walk confidently in the path where you find the fresh footprints of Jesus going ahead of you.
I give to you the blessing of my praise. In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath…” The idea is to not exasperate. It is the picture of a child rising to meet a standard only to have the bar raised while they are in mid-air. I wish I could tell you that life is all honey and no bees. For every success you achieve, there will also come a fair amount of failure. It is all a part of the birthing struggle to find your place in this world. If wisely used, your failures will make you rather than mark you. You have so much to offer and this world is going to be a better place because of the fact you have lived in it. I will be your biggest cheerleader and your greatest fan. But, I will allow you to set your own bar because in my heart you have already measured up.
I give to you the blessing of my passage. In Isaiah 49:22, the prophet describes aid given to Israel’s restoration with this picture, “…thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.” There is no desire of mine that you should walk in your father’s shoes. However, I give to you my shoulders as a platform that will enable you to see further down the road than I am able to look. From such a vantage point, you will not only see over the horizon, but you will also have clearer judgments about what to avoid and what to overlook. God has His own path carved out for you, but I can at least point out a few potholes and show you how to navigate your way through the unexpected curves that are sure to come.
I give to you the blessing of my purity. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” I may not have millions of dollars to give to you, but I can work to make sure I give to you the honor of a good family name. Not every child can walk down the street and hold their head high because of the actions or lifestyles of their parents. When you are away from me and hear my name called out, I want you to be able to stick out your chest rather than your tongue! Life will present many difficult challenges for you, but I do not want to make it worse for you by being a stumbling block rather than a stepping stone.
I give to you the blessing of my passion. Some of my favorite words recorded about Jesus are found in John 13:1, “…having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end.” It goes without saying that I love you naturally as a father, but human love has flaws and often sets boundaries. The most perfect way for me to love you is to allow Jesus to love you through me. This will enable me to always see you with His eyes, touch you with His hands, and speak to you with His words. Such a love will endure beyond my existence in this world and will carry you through to your journey’s end.
I will never get over the doctor bringing you straight from the womb and placing you on your mother’s stomach. I was amazed when you turned your head and stared at me when I said, “hey there pretty girl.” What a reminder of how you would look to me for spiritual guidance in life. Dare to believe God for big things as soon as possible. He has incredible opportunities awaiting that only you can fulfill in this world. And when it is all said and done, I will see you walk across that grand stage and hear it declared, “Rachael Sierra Stewart: well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Then, the blessing will have come full circle!
Your Most Proud Father,
© 2013 Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart: Dr. Alan Stewart has served as Senior Pastor of Rechoboth Baptist since December 1999. He attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Moody Bible Institute, Covington Theological Seminary, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to pastoring the Tennessee church, Alan was an evangelist for 15 years. He has preached revivals/pastor’s conferences in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. He also preached crusades/conferences in India, Hungary, and conducted a crusade in South Africa in August of 2009. Pastor Alan is married to Jeanne, and they are blessed with two children – Sierra and Seth.