Reasons to Believe

What My Dad Did For Me

  • My dad knew from personal experience that money did not buy happiness. In raising his children he focused on character building, a strong work ethic, and the importance of showing hospitality.

  • In my early teens, I badly wanted a telescope powerful enough for me to study variable stars. He encouraged me to collect pop and beer bottles so I could buy the primary and secondary mirrors. He then machined all the parts I needed for the telescope mount. He also got for me a couple of giant cadmium disks in which I cut hundreds of slots so I could quickly find the variable stars I wanted to observe. To a large degree my dad launched my career in astrophysics.

  • My interest in astronomy early on led me to ponder the big questions of life: 1) What or who brought about the universe? 2) Why am I here and why at this time? 3) What is my purpose or roll in this life? 4) What is the future fate of the universe? 5) Is there any hope for me or anyone else beyond this life?

  • During my growing up years my dad's knowledge of the Bible seemed to be limited to just one verse: "Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son." I heard that verse, as did the rest of our family, every time I did something that displeased him. However, one time and only one time, when I was thirteen, my dad quoted another Bible verse to no one particular: "There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof is the way of death." Everyone else in my family, including my dad, immediately forgot the quote. But, not me. I longed to understand its meaning.

  • The meaning of that verse slowly began to become clear to me when I was seventeen. That's when I started for the first time in my life to seriously study the Bible. One thing that especially impressed me about the Bible was the beauty and perfection of its moral message. I made a commitment at age eighteen to do everything I could to live up to the moral standard that the Bible taught. However, the harder I tried the more it became apparent that I was falling short. The verse my dad quoted five years previously brought me to my senses. The pathway of trying to please God through good works and good behavior leads to death. The pathway of life, as I learned in the New Testament, was to acknowledge that no one except God is good. The only pathway of life is through redemption, through receiving God's offer, based on His sacrifice upon the cross, to trade His moral perfection for our moral imperfection. At 1:06 in the morning on August 8, 1964 I signed my name in the back of a Gideon Bible sealing my agreement to receive God's offer of pardon for all my offenses against Him and others and to make Jesus Christ not only my Savior but also my Master.

  • In the years that followed my commitment to Christ I tried in vain to steer my parents away from their attempts to please God through their good works. I knew it was hard to receive admonition from one's child. So my wife and I prayed for God to send Christians of their age and peer group into their lives. God answered that prayer. Men like George Andersen and an uncle and aunt on my mother's side began to have an impact.

  • After my wife and I launched Reasons To Believe some twenty years ago, my parents would attend as many of our outreach events as they could. At first I think they did it for the cultural entertainment. For example, I spoke before an audience of older singles in Hollywood. Before the event, my mother was propositioned twice and several gay couples were kissing or embracing. Near the end of my message a fistfight broke out in the second row of the audience. Upon their return to Vancouver my parents told their friends that all the stories they heard about life in Hollywood were not exaggerations. They were all true!

  • Later, at an outreach event held in the Grouse Mountain restaurant overlooking Vancouver I overheard my dad explaining the gospel message to a group of atheists. I asked him afterwards if he had made a commitment to Christ. He said he wasn't ready yet but that he knew it was the right thing for those atheists to do.

  • A couple of years later, about ten years ago, I got a phone call from my dad thanking us for some videos we had sent to him and my mom for Christmas. He told me the one on Resolving the Problem of Evil and Suffering had finally turned my mom around. According to my dad, my mom declared, "These are the kinds of answers I have been searching for all of my life. Why didn't Hugh tell us this before?" My dad's reply, "He has been trying for the past twenty years, but every time he tried, you interrupted him with your own philosophy."

  • I knew then that both my mom and my dad were safe and secure in the Savior's arms. However, in the last couple of years I noticed as did several other Christians in my dad's life that he seemed much too proud of his achievements and good works and especially too proud of mine. I tried without much success to talk to him about this problem during my annual ministry trips to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. When we heard about his mesothelioma diagnosis this past October, I was still not cleared by my doctor for travel. However, I had two long conversations with my dad over the phone.

  • In one of those conversations we talked about Ephesians 2:10, how God prepared good works in advance for us to do, how we can take no credit for our good works since God is the one that placed them in front of us. My dad's reply, "Son, I know its all the Lord. He controls everything we do and He deserves all the credit. Nevertheless, I am proud to be your father and I am pleased at the way God is using you."

  • Well, I want to tell all of you that I am proud to have had Stewart Ross as my father. I would not be where I am today if it were not for the way God used Stew to turn me around and prepare me for the work I am doing today.

  • Last of all, I want to share with you the second of those phone conversations. I asked my dad if he wanted me to explain to him what it is like to die. I imagine many of you also want to know. I explained to him that God plants the knowledge in the mind of every human being that they will be judged after they pass from this life. This is why death for humans is such a very different experience than it is for animals.

  • Death for the Christian, however, is not a fearsome thing. For Christians there is no judgment for our evil deeds, only rewards for our good deeds. I told Stew that as long as he had any fear, apprehension, or discomfort about death that he could be assured that it was not yet time. When it was time, God would bless him with about a day's worth of surpassing peace, comfort, and assurance. Minutes before death Jesus would appear to him, call him by name, and personally escort him across the threshold of death. At the end of that threshold he would be introduced to all the believers in his life that had preceded him. After that, a celebration would begin.

  • You might ask how I can be so confident that what I shared with my dad is true? The 23rd Psalm tells us, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." In the book of Acts, when Stephen was being stoned to death, he saw heaven open up and Jesus appeared to him to usher him into the next life. One of the pastors on our church staff has been with hundreds of Christians when they had been lucid at the time of their deaths. Without exception, he heard them all say the equivalent of "Jesus is telling me it is time. Good bye, I must go." Then there is Stew himself. The last week of his life was filled with irritation, agitation, and confusion. But, during the last 24 hours he was calm, comfortable, and at peace.

  • I told my dad that across that threshold of death would be someone very special to him. He knew exactly to whom I was referring. I also told him how much I would look forward to meeting him across that threshold when my time came and that from his perspective in heaven that time would be very soon. My dad told me not to make it too soon.

  • The angels in heaven are celebrating the completion of Stewart Ross' life. So are all of his Christian friends and relatives who have already passed on. Likewise, God is calling us to celebrate the life of Stewart Ross. We have refreshments here for you, pictures to look at, and many friends and relatives with which you can share your favorite story about Stew. Thank you for blessing Stew by your presence and for blessing me and all the members of Stew's family.

Subjects: People of Faith, Scientists, Testimonies

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.