Wednesday Witness–Rick Stassi

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. . . a narrow gate

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:24

I called to Jesus and He answered. He, in-turn, beckoned me and I answered after many years of deafness. I became a listener, a believer, in Jesus. Eleven years ago when I was in seeking a power higher than myself I found Him. His eyes were fixed upon me as my life wove down a winding path led by my self-will. God is a God of patience and I thank Him for that. He knew I would bypass, even abhor, the narrow gate leading to Him many times before a softened heart and a changed reason would lead me through.

There was a time I loathed the ‘born-again’​paradigm. I never knew the Scriptural reference. “Christianity was a self-righteous, intolerant, illogical, fantasy”. I thought. However, I needed something larger than myself and I sought a beautiful and personal, wisdom-filled power. This was a time God smiled because the seeker has a better chance of catching sight upon God’s gaze than the one who walks opposite to all things outside of himself. I was a drinker of alcohol. I was always trying to fill an empty void in my heart and the world was very good at dishing up a new elixir. In time alcohol knocked me down. There I found myself on my knees looking up. “God, just help me believe”, were my prayers in recovery. I had no interest in Jesus-It was too soon for He and I to meet.

In my seeking, I tried to intersect my life with Eastern philosophy, the personal aspect was absent. I was drawn to but never could get drawn in. I wrestled for a solution and the solution was fleeting. Why was Buddhism so appealing but so intangible? For me this religion fell flat and empty. I moved on seeking a personal and tangible, appealing god. I soon believed we were all in backyards looking up to the heavens, focusing on a single god. When we looked horizontally, we could only see the fence in our yard. My theory was that even though we had differences in who our god was, we were really looking at the same one. The absolute nature of Jesus was therefore absent. It was all relative. I liked this theory but it would die and fade in God’s time.

In my marriage, and therefore my more mature, post-alcoholic life, the Lord had a plan for me. My wife and I were not Christian; however, we made attempts at spirituality courting Catholicism and some Buddhism. Then God intervened for all eternity. She came home one Sunday night after a weekend visit with a ‘born-again’ friend. She announced that she had given her life to Christ. The pronouncement was infuriating to me. Jesus had entered my life through my wife and I felt thrust against a wall. I was like a huge object being forced through a narrow opening. I would not give. But in this case, the opening would not give either.
She suggested we start spending our Sunday mornings at a local church - an idea I agreed to try because although I carried abhorrence for Jesus, I still sought the wisdom and personality of a god. We attended a church that thoroughly taught the Bible and the day we first attended, the Pastor’s sermon began: “In the beginning​…”​ It was the Book of Genesis but it was really more of a revelation. I wondered if this was coincidence. A new beginning. I patiently listened through eight months of Old Testament verse-by-verse teaching. I particularly was interested when Jacob wrestled with God and God disjointed a stubborn man at his hip. I related this story to my agonizing relationship with alcohol and I knew I was too a stubborn man.

One day on an off-ramp on my way home from work, while listening to a sermon tape of one the Apostle’s gospel, I succumbed. Jesus spoke to me and said that the greatest of all commandments was love. Love for God and Love for man. Love was a prerogative I could embrace. Jesus was Love, I reconciled, and a person I now could embrace. I believed He was God and Man and my personal Savior. God surfaced in my consciousness. I had found wisdom and personality in God.

Since, I have seen how God works in my life each day. Not always in big ways, but subtly always imparting His wisdom and love to me daily. I learned the Bible and I seek to see the image of God as I look into the mirror.

I see now just how narrow the gate is. I am so blessed that I persevered in my walk through despondency to reach and pass through the gate to God. I am so blessed God was patient with me. Jesus was walking with me the whole time and I am blessed by His love. I pray for the many who will not look.

- Rick Stassi

You can find more from Rick on at his blog

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