The Stinging of the Hoarfrost

1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4:1,2

Know that in our Christian walk, we are not alone. Know on this walk that it is promised already that we have a seat at a glorious banquet set for us in heaven (a). Understand the width of the path on which we walk. Be assured that God is with us.

I have had many seasons in my life. There is one that I particularly loathed, yet am oddly fond of now for many reasons. Winter. It was a time when life was dismal and darkness coddled my restless soul. I was in the chains of captivity and through deception, I believed I was enjoying a well deserved freedom. Yes, I was paying my dues in life and deserved this freedom. I co-existed with other freedom seekers on what was a ship of fools. At the helm of this ship, was Satan himself. There was no freedom, but there was a Watcher with a keen interest from above. There was a Father from above who watched me until the dimly lit Sun of a cold winter was eclipsed with a lesser light, the dim, dying glow of self-reliance. It grew dark, and a restless soul became fatigued.

This was a time when I finally ran out of myself. Self-reliance was a cold, rushing river-ever fleeting. It enveloped and in its confines, I could no longer be sustained and I grasped, in a panic, at  straws at the river’s edge that eluded me – trying to hold me captive. It hurt. I wept. My Watcher watched over me already knowing that His perfect plan was in play. I was not suffering in vain, but suffering because I saw deception face-to-face.

I escaped the river. It was cold and each exhale was a cloud of my old self. In the distance there was a cottage. I saw inside a warm fire, a glow of welcome, of beckoning. In these moments the purpose of destination is of less importance than fixing current pain. But in the destination was a hope previously unseen. In the glow was a face with guardian eyes and outstretched, scarred hands. The One who knew pain asked me to tell Him of mine. I went toward the glow across the snow.

My bare feet stung as I walked across the hoarfrost covered grass to the warm light a short distance away. This inviting cottage with the warm glow of a fire shining through the windows beckoned me to walk a prickly walk, numb, into the heart of God – Jesus beckoned. I was warmly welcomed. His response was not of loud fanfare, it was a quiet serenity. A nodding compassion. A lucid moment. The changing of my seasons. I hurt. I wept. A new man was brought into the world.

I needed the pain of the hoarfrost winter. To reach the refreshing springtime. There was Jesus. He said “Follow me” (b). I heeded His words not even knowing the path I had chosen or the eternal destination.

I continue to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It is my choice not to be quiet about this. He has commissioned me to spread the good news of His death. Yes “good news” and “death”. A paradox of what we deem good and what we deem not good. Jesus died so that we who believe, would live. It is good news that we were in utter deception and in one instance transformed into full life through God’s grace. He gave us that which we did not deserve. Remember. But as Jesus said we are to take up our own cross – but we are crucified with Him (d). It will hurt and we will weep. But such tears are for new reasons now. The tears that fall from the ducts in my eyes fall to the ground in victory. They are joyful tears. During this season that is my walk in Christ, I now endure. Remember God watching me in my winter of frolicking discontent? How much more does He watch now that I am in His flock? I assure you. He not only watches, but holds onto me tightly. I flail no more. My trials are promised to refine me (c) 

Remember the pain Jesus suffered in His enduring of the scourge. One word of Scripture meaning so much. What can we learn? As sin is defeated through the scourging of Jesus,  we remember death is too defeated and in our remembrance of our own pain, we join in the victory over sin.

 “…for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,…”

When we follow Jesus, we accept that we too will carry our cross. We are to endure trials in the promise of the Lord’s word. We are in the flesh and trials we will have. We will endure. Even now I endure! With the promise that as I suffer, I have ceased from sin. God is telling me! I listen to Him. It is not for punishment of my hoarfrost winter, it is to remind me that He refines me and that I have victory over sin. I have ceased my sinful nature. I will be tempted back but I will resist the enemy because even as I weep in a pain that is for a correction, refining process, I walk in victory.

I was told, I may not always “see” this victory, but be assured that God is watching us and knows the glorious outcome. Prepare your heart for the banquet. Endure these trials in our flesh. Know that the stinging of bare feet on the hoarfrost will transform to the warm washing of feet of those we now minister too. Think first of God, then others. Love in that order. Then be satisfied in a joy unsurpassed. God is with you. God is with me.

Rick Stassi

May 27, 2012

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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