He was a lorry driver and revelled in the open roads. He eventually found his soul mate and settled down to become a step-dad to five children who all adored him. Through his new family he was introduced to God. You could not find a more enthusiastic follower of Christ through his local Baptist church. He really had faith; the deep faith that meant he could enjoy life, make the most of God's creation without any signs of worry or woe.
Stephen could always exercise a childlike quality and he really took great pleasure in bringing the other love of his life, his lorry, and parking outside the front of the church. I guess the congregation always new when he was about.
As I said he was a larger than life character.
So why do I refer to him in the past tense?
Unfortunately he never made it to his fortieth birthday. One night his next door neighbour was playing his music aloud at 1.00a.m in the morning. Stephen knocked on that neighbours door to kindly ask to turn the noise down. That neighbour saw fit to draw a knife on Stephen and he was killed.
So why did God allow this to happen?
Why did God let one of his true faithfuls die in such a way?
Perhaps God recognised Stephen's devotion and decided he wanted him near to him. Perhaps Stephen was ready to experience heaven.
The truth is that whilst we are here on earth we will never know the answers to questions like this. Many times we hear the dissenters ask the question, "If God is so good, if God is so mighty, why does he let all the atrocities happen in this world?"
As it is said, God moves in mysterious ways. Us humans create machinery, develop computers. The inventors, the computer programmers understand how these pieces of equipment work. If computers could understand how we humans work, how we think and how we behave, we'd be in a whole host of trouble. Computers and robots would then have the upper hand and would be able to control us.
Likewise, as our creator we are not supposed to understand the workings of God. We accept and believe that everything he does is for the benefit of the greater good and we all play our part in the progress of God's universe. There isn't the need to question why things happen, why tragedies strike; we just have to have faith that God hears our prayers and provides us with the tools to live a good and wholesome life.
At Stephen's funeral, one of his life long friends commented that he would act his shoe size not his age. That child like innocence was the evidence that he enjoyed life and could trust in the lord. With a deep and absolute faith in God we know that God will look after us and guide us along the right path through our journey in life, however long or short that journey may be.
How fantastic is that?