I've had a couple of days to reflect on the life of my great friend Steve Stoner who battled throat cancer for three years until last Wednesday when God called him home. I am not surprised but I must admit that I didn't fully realize the impact that his ministry had on so many people. Those on Facebook get to see, even though just the tip of the iceberg, his ministry and personal impact with so many commenting about how important he was to their spiritual growth. It is ironic that neither Steve or Peggy do Facebook.
I could go on and on about Steve's ministry but at the moment, what has moved me the most about Steve in these last few months was how well he finished the race. Watching the Olympics, you get a good appreciation of how important it is to finish strong, often the difference between gold and silver or medaling or not. And the Apostle Paul used that metaphor of running the race to encourage us to preserver to the end as in 2 Timothy 4:7, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. And Acts 20:24. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Steve, in the midst of the most difficult trial that one will ever face, finished extremely well. Even in his last few hours, Steve continued to think more about others than himself. As people poured in to visit him in his last days, even as he was in and out of consciousness, Steve often would recognize the visitor and ask them about their life, job or ministry.
He was always positive, never complained and remained the rock of man we always knew. One tender moment I'll remember near the end, as Peggy nursed him, he slowly lifted his arm around her neck and pulled her close up to his cheek and whispered, "I love you". I can honestly say that Steve embodied the characteristics of the Holy Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, as well as anybody I've ever known, all the way to the finish line! And I know as he crossed the finish line of this life and entered into that glorious next adventure he was greeted with a "well done, good and faithful servant"!