The way I thought God was going to bless my family was to have Tristan grow up into a wise young man that glorified God by raising a family of his own that served God. In years to come our home would be filled with grandkids and cousins that played hide-and-go-seek at family reunions while we all laughed around the table at the fun times they used to have at that age.
That all disappeared along with Tristan when he took his life. God was not going to use Tristan the way I thought God was going to use Tristan. But his short life was not Plan B.
I saw this when I read about Stephen in the book of Acts. Stephen had a mom. Scripture says nothing about her but we know he had one at some point.
I wonder if she was a believer who was so proud of the young man Stephen had become. Just look at his resume! Here is what God says about Stephen: “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, full of grace and power” , “(He) was doing great wonders and signs among the people.”
If I was his mom I would think he could be used for YEARS to come to build up the ministry and the new church. What a gifted, talented young man. And just look at how well he knew the scriptures as he recounts the whole history of the Jewish faith in Acts chapter 7. Oh, yes, he would be valuable for years to come.
Would you believe 2,000 years to come? Because he died the day he made that eloquent speech in Acts 7. His enemies lied about him, stirred up the crowd and brought him before a sham trial with false witnesses. And then dragged him out of the city and stoned him. Can you imagine being his mom and seeing his last dying breath be one of forgiveness? Could I forgive the ones who did that to my boy?
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”(died)
Yes, her son was that forgiving. Yes, her son was that talented. Yes, her son was that useful. And God appointed him to be used this way.
What she saw was an angry mob, lies, hatred, murder. A useless death.
What God saw was His special servant, appointed for such a time as this:
The Ripple Effect
Stephen’s precious death was a singular event that is touching our lives right now even though it’s not evident just yet. Let’s take a closer look.
- The stoning of Stephen by the angry mob is the first ripple.
- Persecution of all believers in Jerusalem is the next ripple.
- Believers fleeing to faraway towns is the next ripple. (I Google mapped how far the believers had to flee from Jerusalem to Antioch– 555 miles by foot, more than a two week journey.)
So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch,
Therefore, those who had been scattered went through places preaching the word.
- “And many believed in the Lord there” is the next ripple.
- Churches set up for these believers is the following ripple.
And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers of people;
And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord.
And considerable numbers were added to the Lord.
- And the ripple that touches us today? Yes, those of us reading this digital copy, WE are recipients of Stephen’s ripple effect. For–
…the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Stephen’s loved ones could not possibly have known that his death would reach people 2000 years in the future who call themselves Christians. They could not have imagined how much it would mean to me that I got to teach my Tristan how to become a Christian before he died. We see like Abel, that though Stephen is dead, he still speaks.
God may not have used Tristan the way I had planned, but I can trust His plans. He designed my boy, appointed my boy, and received my boy into His arms at his death despite his last act being the sin of taking his own life. This last act did not define Tristan’s life. The blood of Jesus covered that sin so that God could say, Well done, my good and faithful servant. You’ve accomplished the purposes I set out for you to accomplish during your 18 years, 363 days on the earth. Though Tristan is dead, he still speaks. It’s a ripple effect.
Dear God, I still wake up and miss Tristan every day. I can’t wait to be with him again. I think about him with You. Is he with Stephen right now? Are they talking together? Please help me to serve well the ones you’ve left behind. Please come quickly so we can all be together in the New Heaven and the New Earth. ‘Til then, save me from myself. Amen
All quotes from Acts chapters 6-11, ESV
Proof Text: “All the days that were ordained for me were written in Your book when as yet there was not one of them.” and “The Lord sits on His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all”. Psalm 139:16, Psalm 103:19