Tonight is a very special night for me as I will be attending a graduates banquet to honor the graduating class of 2010. This is a very special class to me, because my youngest daughter Bethany will be graduating from Fleming Island High School in less than three weeks. This is the third time I have done this, but I want to assure you that it does not get any easier.
What a great opportunity for us as parents, to be able to publicly affirm our children. It is with great pleasure that I affirm a very special young lady, Bethany Caroline Stockdale. She is the youngest (but certainly not quietest) of three wonderful daughters.
It is so easy for me to go back in my mind, and think of that glorious day a little over 18 years ago. It was a wonderful Friday, I remember driving to the hospital as we had picked this special day for Bethany to be born. I was 32 years old, Wayne’s World was tops at the box office, and I never knew how one little girl could so drastically change my life
We named her Bethany, because that is where Jesus would go…to rest…and in thinking about my youngest daughter, it is easy to see that Jesus has always rested in her. We could not be more proud of our daughter, she has certainly been a blessing to all that have met her. She is an amazing young lady, with a heart for God and for ministry!
The most important thing that I am going to say tonight at the banquet, is just a reminder to her, that seven years ago, she made a decision; She recognized the need for a savior, and she gave her heart and life to Jesus Christ. As a father, I just have to tell you, this was one of the proudest moment of my life! You see, my family, my children had come full circle, at this point (8/18/03) all of my children recognized the need for Jesus and had followed Him in believers baptism. I have baptized a lot of people across the years, but I will never forget baptizing Bethany.
We knew that God had big plans for her. I will never forget when she was three, Bethany was sitting on a pew next to me in some rural church in Alabama where I was preaching a one night youth revival, and in the discerning spirit of a three year old, she asked me what was wrong. I remember telling her that I always got nervous prior to preaching and will never forget the words that she said “I will sing for you daddy, and maybe that will help you not to be nervous”. I will never forget her holding that microphone like she had been doing it forever and singing to the entire church. Can I just tell you, that my nervousness was gone, and parental pride beamed from me as I got to take the platform after my child. I have had the wonderful privilege to do this many times over the years.
The innocence of a child. Jesus recognized something special in little children and their innocence. Sheila and I recognized her child like faith and we have been blessed to see her faith grow as she matures as a beautiful young lady. I knew God was going to use her in a real and powerful way, and since the time of that revival meeting, about 15 years ago she has sung for the Lord in many churches and many places always proclaiming the glorious gospel through music.
I am so pleased that she has a ministry. Bethany has always sought out ways to serve in her church and we (her mother and I) are so proud of her! Boo, I want to thank you, for being a blessing to us…my prayer for you is that you will continue to be used of God, allowing Him to use you for His Glory…We love you!
I want to share her favorite verse of scripture to all who will read this blog, in Hebrews 12:28-29 my Bible says “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire”
Bethany, our prayer for you my sweet graduating daughter, is that you hold firmly to God’s grace and let His fire totally consume you!
We love you so much!