Ten

by David Asscherick  |  January 12, 2013

Family

My youngest son, Jabel, just turned ten. In the absence of a miraculous intervention, I will never again have the joy and privilege of parenting a less-than-double-digit aged child. Life moves on. Time does its thing. “The past has gone where the past inevitably goes, the future has not arrived,” David Berlinski resignedly observed.

It used to seem that time was moving for others, but not really for me. Perhaps you’ve experienced this. When I was in my twenties, it felt as though I’d somehow always be in my twenties. The thirties were strange because, well, they weren’t the twenties. Like sleeping in a bed other than your own, the thirties took some getting used to. It never felt quite like home.

Then I blinked and I was 40.

What, uh, just happened right there? Did you see that? A decade of my life just disappeared, gone. A few moments ago I was 26, how am I now 40? If my thirties were like a hotel bed, this first year of the forties feels like sleeping on a cold tile floor with a rolled up jacket for a pillow and a dog-scented, borrowed blanket.

This is my life. This is my family. This is God’s gift to me.

So here I am, half dead by numbers, but, inexplicably, feeling more alive and invigorated than ever before. Life is amazing, rolling, and grand. My boys, Landon and Jabel, are sources of constant joy, happiness, meaning, and challenge. My partner, lover, and friend, Violeta, is more beautiful than ever, inside and outside. I love her more than I ever have. Mercifully, she says the same of me. (Note: she’s not 40. I married a much younger woman.)

I have my Proverbs 31 woman, and she has her Ephesians 5 man. We love each other, we love our kids, our kids love us, and we all love God. Would I trade this to be transported magically back to my footloose twenties? No way, not even close.

A great many people make shipwreck of their lives in their twenties. I nearly did, God knows. But, praise Him, here I am, safely to 40, and surrounded by people I love and who love me. Does 40 sting a bit? Yes, it does, but once the sting fades, my family remains. They’re still there, beautiful as ever––Violeta smiling, the boys clamoring for yet another wrestle.

I look around me and take it all in, the light is golden and perfect–a photographer’s dream–spider webs and dust particles dance in the summer breeze, backlit against a blue-turning-violet-turning-pink sky. The boys are on the trampoline. Violeta’s arm is around my waist. A “V” of sandhill cranes makes its southerly flight over our little house, their haunting calls touching me in places and ways that cannot be described. This is my life. This is my family. This is God’s gift to me.

Ministry

ARISE is also ten. This seems impossible, of course, but I have the pictures to prove it, much to my own astonishment.

I’ve counted it several times, and it always comes out the same: 2003 to 2012 is, provided numbers and mathematics generally can be trusted, ten years.

Ten programs. Ten classes. Ten families.

The memories made, the things taught and learned, the things done all wrong, the things done all right (or was it alright?), the places–Michigan, California, Oregon–enjoyed, all of them, and much more besides, wind themselves together into a tapestry of God’s own making. These have been holy moments on holy ground. It didn’t always feel like it at the time, but it sure does now, looking back. At the time there were deadlines, schedules, and all manner of the practical considerations associated with managing a family of 40-50 people living in close quarters. But from here–right here–in this unique and wonderful place that only the perspective of time can provide, looking back over ten years, it is clear that this has been holy time, and these have been holy places, and these have been holy people.

Holy. Set apart. Different. Special.

Saints.

Sure, not always perfectly saintly, but saints nonetheless. Not in the Catholic or Orthodox and incorrect sense, but in the biblical and beautiful sense. People set apart for ministry, for learning, for growing, and for loving. These people are God’s family, and they are my family, and the family of every staff member and professor, past or present. Families can be a little messy, in more ways than one, but family is still family.

Some of them have been lazy and unfaithful with what has been given them, but God has not forsaken them.

Some of these sons and daughters and brothers and sisters have gone on to do great things, certainly not because of us, and perhaps in spite of us. Some of them have gone on to do smaller things with great love and passion, and these are great things too, perhaps the greatest of things. Some of them have been lazy and unfaithful with what has been given them, but God has not forsaken them. He knows well what has been vouchsafed them, and is calling and hoping for a return on His investment of love. I believe, and pray, that these will yet hear and heed His patient, plaintive voice. The hour is late, and they are needed, so desperately needed, by both the world and the church. Remember your roots, dear ones, and arise.

Some of them have imagined that greener pastures and better places lay just… over… there… beyond that next ridge, and they’ve taken leave of that dream which was once theirs, and which is still God’s. They looked around and saw, not holy ground, but rather ordinary, and even contemptible, soil. So they put their shoes back on, and took leave of this holy ground. The bush stopped burning and the Voice stopped speaking. At least they thought so. But no, they had closed their eyes, and stopped their ears. I don’t know why or how, but it happened. My broken heart is nothing compared to God’s, and I believe, I have to believe, that even these God will call back to Himself. He will restore the years those deceitful, painful, and swarming locusts have robbed from them. They will, again, arise.

This is my hope and prayer. And it is God’s too.

Once again, I look around. I am surrounded by people I love, and who love me. There are hundreds of them, and beyond them thousands and beyond them still thousands more. The light, again, is golden and perfect, but it radiates from a Source brighter and better than the sun. Faces are illumined with holiness and ageless beauty, everyone smiles a knowing smile. There are crowns and robes.

I see my family.

Both of them.

David Asscherick Speaker
Light Bearers
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  • Linda Gerace

    Absolutely beautifully said. You have such insight into seemingly every day situations, and the blessing of being able to share it in words that are very touching, which draw the reader to behold our loving Saviour. Thank you. Thank Him.

  • Ty Gibson

    Thanks David! I so resonate with your enthusiasm for this glorious reality called life. May we all share your heightened sense of how truly wonderful and fraught with meaning it is. . .and live “more abundantly.”

  • Jared Dudley

    What a legacy the Lord has blessed you with. It is a true testament to the rich life we may have here and in heaven. The world has nothing on this.

  • Ethan Woodard

    Beautiful

  • Dustin Hall

    David, I came to ARISE to follow a call. Little did I know that I would be adopted into a family. It’s a miracle that a school exists for the sole purpose of helping people fall in love with Jesus. Your love for Christ and your family is exactly what you described here. Thank you for allowing Jesus to make such a deep impression in my life through you and my ARISE family. By the way there are a whole lot more that are part of the family you haven’t met yet, they are part of the family because of what I learned there. I can’t wait for you to meet them at the family reunion in Glory.

  • Lindsay White

    Wow. This makes me want to cherish every moment of life more now.

  • Words usually fall short of expressing the meaning of life, the fullness of joy and love, and the hope that is in us, but you have beautifully captured it all. If there ever was a heartfelt post, it is this one. I will never forget our ARISE family, and one day soon, we will all be together again — all God’s families united into one. But now, it is time to arise and shine. Thank you for this poignant reminder.

  • Noemi Roman-Gallego

    So true a family, thanks for sharing, Arise was such a blessing for me, from it I learned and gained the knowledge I needed to Arise and soul-win for my King of Kings. Love bible work, it’s my passion and blessed to have learned so much from you, Matt, Nathan, and the rest of the team, awesome examples. Blessings and hugs to Violeta, and the boys. No

  • Christina Harris

    Thanks Pastor David. Nice to be remembered as family. Thankful for my time at ARISE. Class of 2003.

  • This is a lovely read. I experienced the same weirdness when I turned thirty and forty. I still thought I had a hold on life. Then fifty happened. I live half way around the world from where my once little girls are now rearing little girls and boys of their own. God has opened the door to a world I never knew existed. I have learned so much just by becoming acquainted with cultures from Europe. We are now preparing to move back to the states after thirteen years of living over here. I do not know what this will bring. I am so grateful for the loving husband with whom I have been blessed time to share the mountainous grandeur and experience things I had only seen in magazines. How will God use these experiences in our lives? I have no idea. I only know that living here where language and cultural boundaries have taught me so much, I have learned how narrow my understanding of people was when I was in my twenties, thirties, and forties. I look forward to experiencing American culture through the eyes developed in the European one.

  • Jordan Reichert

    Diggin’ it, Daver… Praise God for love and life.

  • This is a wonderful retrospective on 10+ years in two particular ministries where I am sure there is much overlap. And I don’t use the word “wonderful” loosely–this reflection is full of wonder to me, a person who *loves* the initiation but often loathes the follow-through, who is ready to get engaged to the idea but finds marriage to sustainability rather…yawn…unappealing. Being steady and faithful to the ministries to which we have been called–family and teaching in your and my cases–is no small task but, as you eloquently note, taking leave of the dream doesn’t mean it’s not still God’s.

    Courage and strength and wisdom surround you, Passterick. Do you see what I did there? Can you even DEAL with the hybrid I just made of your pastor and your last name? I learned it from watching you. 🙂

  • Beautifully said with a passion that captures the heart. Wow! Jabel is 10! That is amazing. God bless you in the next 10 and beyond. My heart is reflecting on the past and remembering the good times together, missing the way it was but accepting the way it is. Living, loving, learning and growing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nancy

    A Beautiful life! And You could adopt!?

  • Dave, nice, emotive writing. Love this: “forties feels like sleeping on a cold tile floor with a rolled up jacket for a pillow and a dog-scented, borrowed blanket.”

  • ChristiEn

    Love it! Love life! Love you! Thanks!

  • Rebecca Siddon

    Wonderful, David! I am praying I see MY family there also!

  • Anca Gritto

    Praise be to God.This is just a taste of what God can do for and in us by surrender to Him.Can’t wait to meet you all being part of God’s Royal Family.Let’s finish the work and fulfill the purpose of our existence by God’s Grace.

  • Thank you for being a motivation for many to Arise and Shine! May none of us miss out on what God wants to do in our lives. Blessings to you and your dear family.

  • john pena

    Thank you Be blessed

  • Judith Nelson

    Just read this and was blessed. A couple years ago when you and Ty Gibson visited the Riverside CA Arlington SDA Church for a weekend seminar, I spent some time in the Mother’s Room because one of the church kids I knew had brought a batch of irresistably cute kittens and wanted me to see their pets. There, I met your sons, two bright, friendly, observant and courteous boys. While you were presenting Bible material in the Arlington Church Sanctuary, your two sons were exhibiting the practical benefits of being raised in a happy godly Adventist home. I was impressed and warmed (I’ve been an SDA teacher since the early 70’s, and I know ‘good kids’ when I see them). Two sermons were presented that afternoon: The quiet joyful witness of your home training as evidenced in your boys, and the passionate and intellectual presentation you offered in the sanctuary. Thank you for both.

  • Thanks David, beautifully written. I have the same thoughts going on as I just turned 40 and my family is similar to yours only I have a boy and girl and we all love God. Praise to the Lord, blessings to you.

  • David! Your beautifully eloquent, poetic words touched my heart. Thank you for living what you preach and teach. I’ve been so blessed by the ARISE family. Praising God for each of you!!

  • Though I cannot relate much to the second half of this story for obvious reasons, the first half, like Ty, brought tears to my eyes. I wish my parents had your life at 40.

  • Jake

    I very much appreciated this blog and frankly all your ministries. Your dedication and perseverance to the Lord has stuck with me for years. I was Attending GLAA about ten years ago when I first heard you speak and had the privileged of meeting you. You were willing to spend time skateboarding with me on several different occasions through my years at GLAA, which skateboarding was my biggest obsession and often my only concern. The patient you displayed while skateboarding was like patience I had never seen from anyone while “playing” a sport…as i child i saw this as your ability…and now i know it is because you had let God in, and let God lead. I have had the biggest spirit battle of my life in the last month, and the reality of the situation…this is just the beginning of my battle. I was the lazy and unfaithful…but God in his infinite wisdom and love has been patient with me and has endured in a way I could not. The Lord lead me to this blog today, and used you as a vessel to fill me up at just the appropriate time, with the very perfect words. God has not forsaken me! I was the one who left Him, but He has been waiting at my doorstep…hoping I would return. Thank you for your faith in God and your willingness to give up your life to take the life He had for you. May God continue to bless through your ministry.