Man Loses Everything, Gets More Back

Stewart has fond memories of his early childhood. “We lived on an acre of land with fruit trees and I just remember balloons and smiles and happiness and just life was good. I remember always being at church, you know, it was a big part of our lives.” Those times were cut short when Stewart was six and his parents divorced.  Not only did his dad move away, but his mom stopped taking the kids to church. 

Stewart recalls, “No one really counseled me how to vent my frustrations.  I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.” Depressed, and taking the lead from his mom’s family, Stewart turned to smoking and drinking.  Stewart was eight when his mom asked his dad to step in.  The first thing he did, was take Stewart to a local church service. “I accepted Jesus right there and then. There was a light that got turned on.” He remembers, “And I was smiling the whole time. I experienced a huge change in the way I was behaving.  I felt like I was supposed to trust him and I was supposed to read the Bible and I was supposed to become the believer that he wanted me to be.”

There was something else Stewart wanted. “I wanted God to put my parents back together.  I wanted the life to have before they got broken up.  So I had high expectations for God.” That didn’t happen. In fact both of his parents remarried.  Discouraged, he started caving to peer pressure. By the time he was in high school Stewart had given up trusting God.  “I went to a lot of parties. Had a lot of relationships. A lot of drinking, even at school. Smoking. Marijuana. A lot of pills. Anything I could get my hands on. I didn’t want the constraints of Christianity at that time.”

But there was something deeper driving his rebellion. Stewart recalls, “I had determined in my mind that my father was responsible for the whole thing, divorce.  It always came back down to divorce. I was angry at God, I was angry at my parents, and I kind of used the divorce as a crutch to excuse my behavior.”

Even then, Stewart knew he needed change.  In the years following high school, he went into real estate, married and started a family.  He now pursued success and money instead of partying. He said, “I was very ambitious. I guess you could say there was always a hole in my life and I was trying to fill it with money and tangible items.  And I certainly didn't fill that hole.  I always wanted more and more and more and I tried to grow my empire bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Then in 2007, the real estate market crashed, and his empire along with it. “I remember shaking my fist at God, just extreme rage.  It's kind of the same rage I had when I was younger.” Soon he was drinking heavily again.  The couple had just lost their house, when his wife discovered Stewart was having an affair and got a separation.

He said, “And I was basically in the house with no furniture drinking gin and tonics all night and all day just depressed about my situation.”

Stewart ended up sleeping on a friend’s couch, unable to see any way out.

“And at that point I was like, ‘God, where are you?’ I can't get myself out of this pit by myself. I need a change. Please God, get me out of this.”

He recalls,  “The impression I got was ‘I’m as close as the skin on your face I’ve always been here. I’m right here.’ The finger of God came down and brought that little spirit back to life that's inside of me, the real me, my spirit man. And I had a baptism in tears.”

He turned everything in his life over to God.

“I had lost all my money, all my properties and all hope, but I had I finally got a father.  And like ‘Lord, I just give it to you then.’”

Stewart says afterwards things started falling into place.  His brother-in-law opened his house up to him; an old colleague gave him a job out of the blue.  He also went through a recovery program.  Most of all, he rediscovered his joy, and passion to follow Christ.  “I started scouring the Bible it helped me get to know the Lord a lot better. There’s so much of him that I’m giving to others and you can’t keep it if you don’t give it away.”

Stewart later reconciled with his wife and parents. “My relationship with my wife has never been better. By putting God first it’s improved our relationship. I’ve forgiven my mother. I’ve forgiven my father. I’ve forgiven everyone that needs to be forgiven. I’ve asked for forgiveness.”  Stewart says God healed the pain of his childhood and restored what he had lost.  “I have joy all the time.  And he gives me joy.  And it's first and foremost in my life.  I give him all the glory.”

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