The Overshadowing of a Devouring Discontent

9 From the chamber of the south comes the whirlwind,
And cold from the scattering winds of the north.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
And the broad waters are frozen.
11 Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds;
He scatters His bright clouds.

Job 37:9-11 (NKJV)

 

 

 

In my life, there are seasons. Some are good, others slightly off color. I remember, there was a winter season that seemed to go on forever. This was a time of my darkness. It was cold and it was constant just as moments near the winter solstice – dismal and cold. Just as a creature hidden under a rock, the light of the sunlight was loathed.

Prior, though, there was an innocence of my autumn when I longed to delight in world pleasures. The world is a suitor of lies and eagerly obliged. He began to wine and dine me with passing frivolity eventually turning to discontent. Leaves change and fall to the ground and soon even temporal beauty turns ashen. In this discontent of a bleak winter I walked under the umbrella I fashioned from cloth and stick to protect me from rain, occasional sun, but mostly rain. This a time when I walked alone.

How short-sighted. How ignorant in my lack of awareness. 

The lies of the addicting elixirs of this world take their toll. The demise of life brought pleasure to venomous watchers and serpentine liars. Why couldn’t I feel like I did when I was younger? There was delight in devouring each moment, chewing and flavor-savoring, then discarding… The moments lined up like they were there for my pleasure- one-by-one. However, these moments of time each drained one more ounce of my life. I didn’t know this until the tepid turned to icy and this water stirred no more giving way to a still frozen sheet. Life was not supported in this motionless place. Even molecules were laid to rest. Life was spurned and loathed as the last of the moments were consumed. The artificial happiness that was once contained in the moment slowly dissipated.

Woe to my miserable self in pain! The ways I medicated myself had an awful consequence. What was once a season of fun, now was a loathsome, painful darkness. The world changed. “You are not like you used to be”, I talked plainly, face down into a pillow at midday. “You were here for my  pleasure. Now I am the fodder of your lies”, again, speaking muffled as a light began to peak in through a space in the blind. The geometry of the light on the walls, my open hand, my eyes seeing the dust now visible in the streaming light. How busy and bustling that dust going somewhere…

Pain was the ignition of change. I started to become aware: “I am alive. Now I will try to turn the page. Though still each page is so very heavy and the act of looking at the next shall be burdensome – but look I must.” I don’t know why I thought that then. Maybe one can feel pain only so much before taking a leap away, opposite in direction, is the remedy.

God watched me through this icy winter. He saw my laugh. He saw my enjoyment, He saw my hurting heart. He already knew the outcome. He would save this one – He already really had remembering all the times of narrow escape. I was blessed and didn’t even know from whom. He watched. I poured out the last lie into the sink and made my bed. The blinds were opened and there was light. I saw the dust float gaily almost like it had found new friends and his world just got larger. The icy pond began to break up as the cloud of His spirit circled around as if to gather me up. His clouds showered upon me with the fresh rain that shows a dark cloud is really a good thing. It hides the light for a moment, but in God’s timing, pours down water to restore and refresh. With my odd, homemade, umbrella cast aside,  I walked into this downpour and savored the drops of refreshing spirit. God’s heart smiled. Soon it will be Spring.

So I packed away the musty baggage of my devouring discontent and sat and thought. I had exhausted my way. I was exhausted-period.  I was consumed by the very thing I lustily devoured in haughty spirit. The hunter was really the prey. I was prey to my desire and the lies of this world that so readily came at my beckon and call. I was depleted and no longer any fun to this world. God knew that the world would soon loath me as I would soon grow into my body of a man who hastened toward a new light. The Light. Tears all dried…No, there were more tears alright, but there was so much joy. It was a new life awaiting for my exploration. The despair turned to joy and God scattered His bright clouds so that I would have moments of sunlight with still a few reminders of my past darkness.

I understood. God watched me through the times in my self-propelled season. From when the leaves of my autumn alighted upon the ground and the icy pond of my Winter froze over. He was there holding my hand protecting His child. I was now growing up and need not desire my physical youth for in the Lord we are in eternal, spiritual youth. We can always call ourselves His children. It is blissful, this season. Jesus came to me and I followed. Elixirs are now a memory, but I do remember. It is by design lest I should think to revisit. There will always be a reminder of pain, but, it is overshadowed by the greatness of our God. He holds me, He keeps me close to Him, He walked with me through my discontent. I know this is true. For the hand I held as I drunkenly stumbled on my self-made and unhappy path, was not of a friend. It wasn’t even happiness. It was God, patient and loving. God spoke, “Walk with me and you are forever young. You can call me Father for you are my child and I love you.”

I weep.

Rick Stassi

April 27, 2012

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Fall and the Harvest Moon

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child;

1 Corinthians 13:11

In the Fall of my life, leaves peeled away from my branches and fell to the ground. In my understanding, I was like a tree. Once flourishing  in a glow of parental care, the green leaves of innocence of my very young times. The sureness and comfort of youth. The seriousness of my cares lie in my next meal or when I should see my Father’s face when he arrived home from work. When I was a child I did not fear. I did not have a care for anything outside of a very small sphere of influence. Lies are awaiting, seeking.

Jesus was a name in a book and as my green leaves began to wither and turn to a fiery orange-red, I felt  a change in my life but could not comprehend it. My protection of green foliage slowly stripped away until the last leaf fell and I was exposed to the angry, imminent elements of a harsh winter. But first the Fall…

I was now seen in the company of the evil one. He perched on my branch as a raven with its beady eyes peering. Most do entertain his company after we are exposed. He is seen walking with us as we seek to be older than we really can be. Our exposure is his invitation. As we shed the skin of our earliest protection, as we think further than we can walk, we carry an innocence that is an invitation to he who seeks his prey.

I still spoke as a child even as I put away my childish things. My understanding was still as a child even though in my own mind I was no longer a sapling, but a sturdy tree. God saw. He loved me. He waited patiently. For He knew that this young tree would bend in the slight breeze, cower in the first rain,  and begin to build a pride to withstand. God knew that the pride I would now choose as protection would need to be broken in my Spring. One does not come to this season of Spring until one has crossed the desolate Winter where pride blossoms. But again, the Fall…

Maybe the Fall relates to the ‘Fall’. Yes the Fall. For wasn’t I falling? My self-reliance waxed, my fears waned. In reality I was already fallen, the Bible tells us; but, I was just an innocent child! Even so, fallen. Now was a time when I would begin to demonstrate that self-reliance, or pride maturity, was the manifestation of the fallen. Pride grows as Sunday school becomes a memory. Jesus is not even a name in a book. He is all but forgotten in these times. In my self-reliance, Jesus gently smiles and reached for my hand. I am oblivious to His gentleness. I have control. Adamantly persistent. The same nature that lures me away from His gentleness, sees my branches grow brittle. I see a Sun set earlier and see more and more night.

It is a precarious time, the Fall. In the Fall one seeks their pride and finds it to walk on a godless path. We must see our faults to know what we must lose. However, not this season. In my eyes, I am a mighty tree. In reality a fragile sapling void of leaves. Naked and exposed. Holding hands with the one who is evil as he leads me away. It is dark but I am not sleepy! It is dark but it is still early as the Sun has set. Jesus walks with us as the evil one sneers: “He is mine!”  Jesus is steadfast, unflappable.

The burning Sun sets as  the Harvest moon rises. I am older, self-reliant, and walk in the light of the Harvest moon. But it is the wrong light and God sees. He waits and knows my path is now obstacle-filled. These obstacles are traversed effortlessly for now…but wait: the Winter lies in wait. My heart and soul follow my ever-building pride.

I was once an innocent child, we all were. We stepped out with the confidence of an adult as wings grew. It was wonderful, but we could not see that we were exposed and would be snatched up by all temptation.

As I look back I see only God. In this time of my life I see God over me and watching just as He watched the evil one test Job. In His mercy I survived the Fall and subsequent Winter of my youth. Now I see! It was all part of God’s plan. I lost a few branches in that stormy Fall and felt the icy emptiness of the Winter. For another time…

 

I praise God who has always been with me. He has always loved me and knew one day I would break the tight grasp of Satan’s hand-hold. He would sneer and fade away giving way to a Light! Not the Harvest Moon, but Jesus Christ Light of the world. God knew.

Rick Stassi

April 21, 2012

The Rushing River to Nowhere

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

Our faithful God. He lies awake in a higher place. One eye on me, the other on you. I look to the heavens and search for Him and He is there. Is He my reassurance? My safety? My Purpose? More: He is the creator of heaven and earth and shall always be there where I look for Him. He will protect me and give me purpose. But lest I forget, He is the Author of my life, provider of all love.

 Yes I look to the mountains. The high places because the places that are on my horizontal plane disappoint me. These places  are limited and often reflect a similar angst I carry – though some hide it better. I tilt my vision upward. The plane of  my vision now casts off into the depths of the universe. My God is there. He dwells in higher places. I need to look above the places that once tried to placate me ever-seeking a meaningful life, a deeper thought, and a more purposeful world. He is there always to help me. He understands me  and loves me. His is my Creator.

Once, I walked over the wet stones at the river’s edge. The shining stones are wet from the lapping of a busy stream always late to get somewhere. “Take me with you, stream of this world”, I cried. “I am in a hurry to get there too!” Where, though? I followed this river with hectic pace. It was deceiving me and I knew it. It was fleeting, ever-away, always ahead. It settled into a lake, maybe the sea, and waited.

So too must I wait.

I know I must wait for Him and His promises. I believed for a moment that the hectic pace was really going somewhere. I forgot to look upward to God. He was looking at me and He even kept my footstep sure. If I should slip and join as one with the water, my pace would join the pace of the world. False hopes adhering to my heart would be of something better. However, my reality would be mired in a waiting place of no purpose with the rest who are in that river. All waiting. All born to die.  Not me for I will not join! I am sure-footed, well really, my step is protected, it is not me at all. It is my Father watching me. Pray for those caught up in the fast river.

He watches me day and night. When would God sleep? His Love is His sleep; our obedience to Him, His rest. His right hand will protect me from a searing Sun and a Moon that is the light of a thief in the night. The fast world by day powered in sunlight and the thief at night: Fear. These are lights. The world doesn’t quite understand my need for a Light on a hill shining eternal.

His light shines brightly. It illuminates my soul. He is my contentment and I am sustained. Where I stand, I see a world on a pace to finish nowhere. It is deception if it tells you there is somewhere. The world doesn’t know anything but the temporal. Why would it know more? It extinguished the Light I look to long ago. Take pity on this sad world. It knows not what it does, it just rushes at a hectic pace to wait.

I like to see myself at leisure. There is joy in leisure and there is confidence. The confidence is this: God is with me every minute. No proof necessary. I just know because I have felt Him save me from slipping into the rushing river. Now, I choose to love each day. I know He loves me, so my supply is ample and I won’t run out of love. I just need to remember where to look: the mountains, higher places, a tipped plane of vision into eternity. There is God and here is God. Not a paradox. He is omniscient, everywhere, and He cares about me.

He sees me come and go and His mercy and love endure forever. I hear the din of a rushing river. It is inviting cool water as the Sun sears, it is inviting activity to explore by romantic moonlight. But I know. The world hurries to get nowhere. I choose to not be on this path to nowhere. When I forget, I may slip. But He will always be there.

The river runs at a hectic pace to a place where all deceived angst cries together. I must stay out of this river for there is another river awaiting me: A stream of Life, A stream of Living Water that quenches my thirst for eternity. And I am thankful of He who watches me from the mountain.

Rick Stassi

April 9, 2012

faith, endurance, thanksgiving…

Artist: Laura Trevey

2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:
3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Exodus 16:2,3

Those with the courage to step out in faith are truly of the Lord. I have a journey and a purpose. I must see God through my faith, endure through my trust, and know His fruit when He pours it upon me. I trust, lest I murmur. My murmuring is a complaining pang in my side – that regardless of my love for God, life seems too hard. I must see His Light over the world’s darkness.

Would I become so distraught in my current life to wish I were back engrossed in my godless state? If so, I have forgotten all. Faith, endurance, thanksgiving. In faith His light shines into my heart. In endurance, I persevere through trials. In thanksgiving, His blessings are realized and I give Him the credit. God will not forget me. I am not a fleeting project of a whimsical nature. I am a child of He who authored Life. I can be capricious as there is still bursts of laughter, frivolity, tears, anger; but aside from that the journey with the Lord. It is my core and it is dead serious and straight. I must see that my walk is a walk with a purpose. His purpose.

In my faith I see Him daily. Through prayer I commune with Him and in meditation of His word, I become closer. My faith says it is right. God agrees. I ask Him to make me a stronger Christian, a loving husband, a nurturing father. He hears! My faith says it is right and God agrees. I ask in sincerity that a person crying in their own wilderness, bleating like a lost sheep, be found by our Shepherd. They are found and once again my faith says it is right. God agrees. But His agreement does not enable self-control. His agreement is a nod that I am in obedience. My heart is joyous.

But endurance? Yes, as I ask Him for a change in my life, I do not ask with condition. Therefore, God’s plan for how He works in my life may mean an argument, a moment of discordance. In my trials I have a choice. Murmur and fall back as faith shrinks and trust wanes, or endure. In endurance His plan is played  out according to His will not by my choice of opposition. Endurance yields learning through the process I have asked for in the first place. He molds, I endure and learn.

When we pray for a change in our life, do not be surprise at events that unfold that propel this change. Some are not always pleasant. Stay focused on God and know He is with you.

Finally, thanksgiving. Endurance is my wilderness. Lack of complaint, my faith. The result is His blessing of the impartation of knowledge. I see Him with more clarity. Marriage is restored and family is harmonious. The smile and loving gaze of my wife melts my heart. Her tears break my heart. Her joining me seeking God is a true blessing and I am thankful. Marriage is one example of the many things He works on in my journey. Each day is a new wilderness, of some sort. I choose to trust rather than murmur. I have seen the yield of the fruits of His blessing. It is good. God is good.

Children grow and seeds are planted in them. They will begin their own journey. We love them and help nurture their personal relationship with God. It is hard to watch, sometimes. We need to remember our faith. God is in control.

Faith, endurance, thanksgiving. My Promised Land is around the corner! Not seeing it is not a good reason to not have faith. Faith is in the unseen. Survey your life. There are many blessings. Embrace them and know they are from our Father Who art in heaven.

Rick Stassi
April 5, 2012

Rev1 4/14/12