Jesus, How You Sustain

34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them,“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Mark 8:34 (NKJV)

I read God’s verse and it resonates inside of my head. “This is what I want!”  I desire full commitment to Jesus. I desire to create a larger gap between sin and myself. I need to be sustained because I know I cannot sustain in my flesh.

And what of being sustained? It is easy to say and read. But what is being sustained? It is truly supporting and bearing weight. It is the column that holds the roof or the bedrock that supports the pier of a bridge. Sustaining is supporting a weight that will crush me. I seek to be sustained.

Therefore, if I cannot sustain I must look outside of my own capabilities. I look not to a device that shall prop me up for all wood and steel will all burn eventually (a). I need to look at a bigger picture. It is what Jesus asks. Look to Him because with Jesus all is possible (b) 

So I look beyond the horizon. Life is long but it quickly diminishes in length. There are two lines. One ends at our death and the other continues eternally. If I fix my gaze on the first line, it is as if I am walking with my head straight down. I will collide with a tree. Maybe this tree will be the tree on which Jesus was nailed. It will be, I am certain because there are only two lines.  I must walk upon one of them. If I desire to step off one, I must step onto the other. I know this intersection because I have made this transition. It is important to tell for others to read.

There is not in-between in life. The world will constantly send a barrage of reasons and samples of why it thinks there is. It is folly to believe the world. On one or on two. Finite and infinite.

The desire is with me, the knowledge of how pervades all of my soul. Take up my cross: why? Did not Jesus already do this in my stead? He was the propitiation of sin. I am reconciled with God, forgiven in His eyes. The explanation is in God’s word. I must take up my own cross and deny myself. Jesus came and was an example. An example that  permeates all of my thoughts and actions. He denied Himself and I must deny myself. If I deny Him, I shall remain on a lonely path to a finite end. There is no half-way in being nailed to a cross. I take this into account. It is all of me God wants. Jesus showed me and I am attentive to His way.

I feel at times I am at a half-way point. Almost there. What holds me back and what drives me forward? I have peace and I have angst and wonder if this is just life or am I really on a committed path toward God’s Light and with God’s Light. I forgive myself for my questions and doubts. Sometimes I am like a firefly in a jar. Flying around and bouncing of glass walls. The light inside me is still on, but the light in me needs to permeate the dismal darkness just beyond the finite limits of the jar. This jar is the vessel in which I reside: my body. I hear God and see Him for myself. Inward. I must think outward and emanate a light that shows I have really taken a cross of  commitment and have truly set my burdens on the shoulders of Jesus Christ.  He sustains.

I always second guess myself. What do I want? The answer is easy: take up my cross and remember there is no half-way in what Jesus did for me.  Only full commitment. There is comfort in full realization of my task ahead. No ebb no flow. Only full-speed in an eternal direction. I have hit that tree and it has my attention. Now it is time to look up and walk ‘Line 2’. I see beyond the horizon and it will be evident to others. It is what I pray for.

Rick Stassi

August 25, 2012

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A Whimsical Walk on God’s Path

In Him was life; and the life was the light of men
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not
John 1:4,5 (KJV)

I wake up and it is dark. I fall asleep and it is dark. From darkness to darkness I spend a moment in my life and it is a good day. Each day stands alone. There is a new beginning and a new end each day as I walk through my life in these increments. Looking backward and looking forward, constantly evaluating, upturning stones. It is my way. Smiles from the past and hopes for the future. I am always revisiting my first encounters. Wife, family, God. The encounters came in that order and it was as God planned. I see it. I see His footsteps when I look back into my past. They are as pronounced as ones that have just walked through fresh snow. A single path one foot and then the other. They are directional: one way forward and do not make an easy route in reverse. The path is straight.

This is how I see in retrospect: God walks a straight path in my life and I meander. Look at the snow. My steps are around a tree, over a log, hopping on rocks across a creek. Stopping and wasting a moment, or running to pass up several moments. I see my steps go in one direction, then they suddenly stop to reverse and try a new path. All the way I take twenty steps to God’s one. He is steady. I am always curiously peaking under rocks, poking a stick into a stream or swatting a bush. I remember these childlike attributes because they still are fresh in me and in some ways, even now as I smile, that it is who I am now.  Frolicking. I like this direction.

I allow myself a childlike demeanor at times for I am a child in this eternal life. It makes me happy. It is not escape, it is just my life – then, now, and forever. God instills a joy in me and makes my heart His. I am in a perpetual state of joy. I rewind and see so many tears and angst, but the joy in me now overcomes. I am lighthearted now and it is refreshing. Found a frog, dallied a bit and fell behind God’s stride. Better catch up.

I like this life. There is so much to do. I make a choice each day when I awake. Each day stands alone and new decisions I must make. Or not. I may dangle my feet in the creek a bit more, tarry at the things that pique my curiosity. For all is well and I feel safe. Yes that is it! I feel secure because I see His footsteps. I even see into His eyes. How warm and inviting they are. This is life and I choose to find solace in His gait. I choose today that I will smile and laugh and find humor when I stumble. I am responsible –  but I am a child. I refuse to grow up.

I met my wife and we found love, we had children. God knit a family together with a single thread of His love. Together my wife and I found Jesus. It was a natural choice. We already knew He was with us. Sometimes instead of drawing a circle in the dirt with a stick, round and round as this world, I look up and see His guardian eyes. They watch me. They command.  They protect. I am at rest. Newtonian Laws work in my life. “For every action…” This is the world pushing and if I am not careful, I feel the effect. There is cause and effect. But I do not need to succumb to every little cause out there. I am a body at rest. Be gone the world and its travails for I am God’s child and I have  joy. I have a stick and I put it to whimsical use. Tap, tap, tap on a rock. Away from the world and in God’s arms. I like it, this life.

 There is cause and effect in the world. Some think with Existential minds and are mired in this thought. Running in circles and never looking up. I just drew that circle with my stick, remember?  But I looked up and ran to catch up with the Lord. He is ever steady in His gait.  There is life in Jesus – real life – I am assured as I see it and live it now. I must walk straight and I shall try. But most certainly there will be a distraction. It will not hold my attention long for I am at rest and will always have hope. Whimsical I walk. But to be sure: I am serious deep down. I appreciate that God gave me grace – a gift I did not deserve. I have it and now my heart is joyful. So, I grab my stick and continue on. Wading through the cool water of a stream I look up. There is God. His eyes are smiling at His child.

Rick

October 2, 1961 4 years old

oops, I mean…

August 17, 2012 with love

Your Guardian Eyes, Lord.

3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18

We are born of God. We are knitted in the womb as a creation of God’s. We are brought into this world unknowing of all that surrounds us. We are a child with childlike wonder, childlike whims, and childlike dreams. It is bliss, these days. The guardian eyes of our mother with beauty and warmth. Protection in her arms. The strong arms of a father walking us through the halls on many nights when we resist sleep. The eyes of  mother and the eyes of father are smiling at me but there is more. I am a child and I have childlike innocence, naiveté, and fear of the dark. I start now on a walk toward God.

This is the way I see my children, now grown to the age of understanding. My children. Yes, at the tree of knowledge testing all things they have learned about God. Comparing what new thoughts and beliefs blossom in their maturing minds. My children will start on a new journey that will question God and maybe break my heart and their mother’s heart for a bit, and God’s to be sure. But God is sure. He is saying that I cannot carry my son and daughter into the Celestial City, as Bunyan wrote of. I must help set their base and rest in the fact God will now be the ultimate Spiritual guardian. He will watch, feed, nurture my children and they will come to their own terms regarding their salvation in God’s timing. I will help as God asks.

My children are looking about in a new world. The are of strong will, big hearts, and stern conviction. One thinks of  a kiss, maybe more, as the world creeps into and lurks in his mind. Something inside pulls. I shall trust God’s hand. But for the other, there is a love for people without a law of governance. This is a pure love. It is unbridled and to a twelve-year-old, it make s good sense. Here is where it is difficult. We as parents with our words will guide her as will our actions, but, she is a child and a woman at one time. She sees the world from a new perspective. It is innocence and it is scary to watch your child walk on a paper-thin ridge, a precipice with a long fall on either side. But watch I must for if I ‘tell’ I feed an instilled resistance. I must pray for God’s guidance, pray with this child and assure her that she must gaze into the sky at night and start asking why she is here and why there is cruelty in this world. She will not accept answers on the merit of words. She must see God’s face and she will indeed see Him when He reveals Himself.

I must understand, that God has a plan for each of us. He has a plan for me, my wife, my son and yes, my precious daughter. Thank you God for keeping us in Your plans for I may rest in this reality.

Childlike perspective is a beautiful thing but it is dangerous. The enemy prowls on this perspective. I see him now. I will slash and fight him as I can, but ultimately there is a light in the mind of a young person that must go on. It shines about a heart that starts to see that God is there and He is real and He really is Love. The innocence of childlike love must transform and turn to the love of God to truly see this world and beyond. God will be there as He was with my wife and myself. This I must trust. So, I shall.

Seek God little child as His arms beckon. His guardian eyes are full of love and understanding. More than I can give. But I will certainly continue to try. He loves you, little child, my daughter who I love so much. Keep your innocence but O how I pray you keep your mind open for God’s voice. He will be with you when I cannot. When your mother cannot. I see an angel and you are from my wife’s and from my love. But you are really from the Lord. So, I will love and I will correct, but I will also let God’s touch guide your heart of innocence.

Your guardian eyes, Lord. Help me to have unfettered trust. My wife too. You see a child and your heart smiles because you see a pulling away from us and into Your sphere of influence. Watch her Lord. Teach her what I cannot. I will love but it is into Your trust I now rest. God bless my beautiful angel. Her heart swells with compassion. Jesus awaits and calls the children to His arms. He will teach and love her. I and my wife will watch as God works with a hear of love. He beckons now.

Rick Stassi
August 6, 2012

O the calming waves of the sea, O the peace of the Light of Jesus in us…

“The Peaceful Sea” by Rick Stassi

1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Isaiah 60 (NKJV)

There is darkness and there is light. We experience this with all the people of the world. The sun rises and sets each day as we are aware when we are awake and we rest unaware, asleep. Joy is the time when we who are in Christ, together as one, arise each day. For our light has come. The glory of the Lord is upon us.

But what exactly is the glory of the Lord? I still toil about my daily business. Answer: The sun shines above and I readily receive its warmth and there is a new day. This is the light of God’s glory. He is my optimism, my hope, my trust, my salvation, my eternity.

This world uses the dawn as a time when all that was of yesterday is gone. All of today is a glassy stare waiting, hoping, for happiness and peace. This is a different comprehension of optimism. For one can stare with hope at the sea as each wave brings the possibility of new chance or one can stare at waves and see the glory of our Father. Trusting.

We hope. However, our hope is set firmly upon a steadfast bedrock. Our hope is one of sure optimism. We wait with hope of a new day but the hope is paired with trust. Therefore, there is substance in our hope. Each wave is a wave of beauty from God. O the calming waves of the sea. O the peace of the Light of Jesus in us. Poor world mired in a thick darkness. Each wave brings not new water from the sea but the same water over and over again. Nothing changes for the unsubstantiated optimist. The smile slowly curls to frown. Sad.

I am a grain of sand placed by the sea, descendant of Abraham. I love the lapping water that is God’s glory. I am entrenched in this glory. My hope is paired with trust. God says so and I shall believe my God. The grains of sand dance and play in the lapping waves without fear and in a lighted place. So optimistic! With good reason I am because the glory of the Lord shall shine upon me each day as I arise. Each wave is a new day, not the same day lapping over and over. I do not fear this repetitive ebb and flow as I just see God’s wonder and do not place all of my hope in a glassy stare that only looks into darkness – looks to a wave to bring good news. This grain of sand is standing next to me. It is funny how there can be such a curtain separating light and darkness with such close proximity. “Listen! For I will tell you of great joy and hope. Good news!”, I will tell them. I see desperation in those glassy stares. It is the eyes of God that helps me. “Listen! There is a hope for a new beginning”. I am shouting.

But let’s enjoy this moment. The cool sea is a pleasure. The crashing wave, a peaceful lullaby of God’s glory. I have work to do, but let me spend just a moment with You, Lord. Your light, Your glory. All make me optimistic with a basis. The basis is Jesus so kind and so loving. So gentle as He carries me. How I love Him.

We sing and we dance and we forever enjoy God’s light. His Son never sets. We dream of Him. Close your eyes and see God’s face. He is with us.

Remember waves come in and go out. Some place all their hope in the next wave, but it is still the same as the last wave. In Christ there is a new hope with each new wave. We see this, sands of Abraham.

God promised Abraham. He showed him eternity. He showed him that at the shore are a multitude of grains of sand. Some see a light arise in the glory of God in each new wave; some see nothing but yesterday all over again. I will walk in eternity with Jesus as through His eyes, there is optimism that does not rely on temporal good news and happiness. There is the eternal good news of salvation and joy forever and ever.

Rick Stassi

August 4, 2012