Faith is sometimes thought to belong with the “ostrich people’ – those who resolutely stick their heads into a reality called, ‘just believe” and refuse to look at what is palpably true to everyone else!

Sometimes words of admiration are offered to acknowledge this divine stubbornness. People may say things like, “I admire their faith” or “I wish I could believe like that”, but underlying their admiration is an assumption of naivety – they find beauty in such tender trust but find themselves too ‘grown up”, too ‘rational’, ‘too questioning’ to embrace it. : )

I suppose in part this view is valid. For Jesus did say that unless one is changed to become like a child, one cannot enter the Kingdom of God. But is becoming a child the same as believing in a world of goblins and pixies?

When I think of faith, I think of King David..

When I think of faith, I think of King David charging into battle with songs of praise on his lips whilst facing hordes of fierce, merciless bloodthirsty men who wanted nothing more than to cut his flesh into hundred pieces. I see him in the palace surrounded by intrigue, envy and spite- here being stabbed in the back wasn’t just a matter of metaphor. I see him fleeing for his life from his own son, walking away from everything he’d built and fought for. And I ask myself, what nature of faith is that? Surely not the dreamy, pie in the sky type of wishful thinking that is so often associated with the word. Faith here seems to look less like holding on to a fantasy that one can ‘make happen’ if only one shuts one’s eyes long enough and believes hard enough and more like.. reality. A reality so vivid and intense that it strengthens one to face one’s deepest fears and engage with life in its most gruelling moments!

Faith is Assertion

How does faith become this kind of tangible strength? Through some kind of divine revelation of a God-reality that surrounds us even though we can’t ‘touch’ it?  Yea for sure that’s one part of the equation..but I do believe there’s another part and that involves asserting what has been revealed to us of God. For we read in scripture, that to each of us, a measure of faith has been given. Further, Jesus teaches that when we use what we have, more is given to us! And that’s the whole point of the battle! Battles beckon us to use the little we do have!

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” -Jesus.

A Battle Song..

Faith is sometimes restful trust, but sometimes it is a battle- song, a battle cry that calls a higher reality to bear down on the scariest, most discouraging situations of life! Our lyrics may be as simple and as repetitive as a nursery rhyme that goes “God is good” but when we adopt it as our battle cry, we slay giants. For sure what emboldened King David’s battle charge was not some vague, passive hope that somehow everything will work out for good in the end.. We can be sure that when he lifted up his sword and plunged into the thick of battle, his hope became an assertive shout …a declaration of victory promised and given!

Today we are each in a battle of some kind  – a battle for our marriage, a battle for our kids, a battle for our finances, a battle for seeing our God-given purposes fulfilled, or as is so often the case, a battle against our worn-down selves. 

Praying Heaven to Earth!

Today, I’m saying a prayer for both of us that though we fall (and fall again) we’ll rise again (and again) ..with a battle song on our lips. We are not ostriches!  Neither are we brave-hearts. We are timid children, stubborn children who nag our present realities with the truth we know, till it succumbs to that higher law of order, goodness and beauty and makes way for heaven to come on earth!

 

I owe this one to my dear husband : ) He mentioned at a small bible study we were having at our ‘home-office’ that there are two words in the Bible that are often confused for each other. The one is ‘remission’, the other is ‘repentance’.

Remission means the cancellation of a debt, charge or penalty.
Repentance(Wikipedia definition) is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to change for the better.

Peter in his unforgettable speech after Jesus raised from the dead used both words. He said,Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

What a joyous word ‘remission’ is! The debt that we each owe our Creator was canceled because Jesus paid it for us on the cross! That truth takes a lifetime (and possibly more) to sink in, savor and exult over! However the question before me/us today is – can we take this immeasurably great gift and then carry on our merry old way?
What if a man had taken a massive bank loan that he hadn’t the resources to repay? And what if that loan that would’ve potentially cost him everything – his savings, his house, his car et al was then cancelled? Would he then go and check into a seven star hotel and spend lavishly on himself? If he did, we’d consider him to be deluded indeed! Why? For deep down we instinctively understand that remission and repentance go hand in hand. The grateful tears we shed in knowing that God has torn to shreds our collective ‘I owe you’s’ must turn our feet onto a new path – away from the old, tired one of the self-driven life!”

Unfortunately we tend to engage with God’s costly sacrifice as a large blotting paper that soaks up the guilt of personal sin and never truly come to terms with the need for a heartfelt decision to turn away from sin. And a decision it is! ( the decision to deny ourselves everyday, pick up our cross and follow Him) It doesn’t happen by default; we have to want to choose it.

It’s not that turning away from sin (and by sin, I mean the pursuit of ‘self’ which is the root of all sin) is totally ignored. It’s just that it is considered as optional – a good thing to do but not wholly necessary because after all Jesus paid for it all! Yet if we were to forgive someone who wronged us and if their following choices demonstrated little remorse or regret, we’d bristle at the thought of being so completely taken for granted! Then what about the King of the Universe? Would He sagely wave off our lack of demonstrated regret and say with a shrug of His shoulders, “it’s okay…I’ve paid for it all anyway”? Yes, it goes without saying that the motive for change should NOT be guilt, but there is every place for taking the God who redeemed our souls seriously!

Just before Peter invited his audience to “repent and receive remission for their sins”, he proclaimed,“let all Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!” (Acts 2:36) Jesus is the Christ (the Savior) – the one who saves us from our sins, but He is also the Lord, the One we must change our ways for. He is both..and the call is still towards both.

Down the ages the message has been clear. John the Baptist inaugurated the coming Kingdom, (God’s rule on earth), by saying,”Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. This was the message that Jesus preached ( Mathew 4:17) and it is this same message his disciples later carried forward.

It’s very important to consider here what makes repentance ‘doable’ in every aspect of our lives the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit. God has given us Himself, His very nature to empower us to walk in wholesome, life- giving ways. It is possible that we tend to overlook this mind-numbing gift or treasure as Paul refers to it (which is Christ in us) because we haven’t still properly felt the necessity to repent. If we see change as beneficial but not very necessary, then there’s no big urgency to engage with the only Power that makes change possible.

Let me end with another quote from one of Peter’s messages. This one spoken to the crowds that gathered around him just after he healed a beggar who was lame from birth. His words – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” (Acts 3:19) . Oh! how we want these times of refreshing to come! Doesn’t it sound like the promise of a cool, moist breeze on a hot day? Well that’s the third ‘R”. The other two are pretty obvious by now – Repentance and Remission…but folks, there’s a third ‘R’ –Refreshing – which follows the first two!

The wiping of our sins and the turning of our faces towards God opens the window to heaven’s refreshing winds and invites it to gently blow across our lives! Could it be that the reason that we’ve not fully experienced this is that we’ve engaged with one ‘R” and bypassed the other?

Last week I stopped at the thought that love means ‘giving up ‘self’ much the way Jesus did for us. Yet what we tend to do is to guard ‘self’ the most and constrain love to the safe-zone outside the carefully erected walls we’ve built around ourselves. As a result, if loving others inconveniences us to a point where it’s no longer pleasurable, it comes to a screeching halt!

If you’ve tried to walk this out in any measure ( that is to go beyond your natural inclinations when ‘self’ hurts), you would’ve run headlong into the truth expressed in Paul’s letter to the Galatian church –
“For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want ” (Galatians 5:17). That is, our desire to get past the hurt, anger, bitterness, indifference, disconnectedness, or even just our innate fondness for ease in order to love others is met with some serious push back from within!

In this regard, I want to share something written by C.S. Lewis. This is an excerpt from his book, “Mere Christianity” – ” Christ says, ” Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment the natural self but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want the whole tree down. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent and the ones you think wicked- the whole outfit, I will give you a new self instead. In fact I will give you Myself, my own will shall become yours”

I believe there is great liberty in Christ’s invitation to give up the whole self!
I am discovering that my choice to go God’s way in a particular situation is greatly empowered if I get up in the morning with the notion of giving all of the ‘natural me’ up. Otherwise every act of love (of other-centered thought and action) will be reluctantly squeezed out of my selfish being drop by drop! But if I set my mind to thinking that I’ve junked all of it, the specific choices of the day are so much easier to engage with!
It is surrender that finally ends the war within! For it is in doing this that we encounter His Spirit within us – what the Bible calls the “new creation’ which is full of lively impulses, thoughts and desires! The liberty we experience is not so much from letting go of the old as from encountering the new! – the power of His spirit working in us as we surrender to the goodness of His plans and His ways!

I’m going to end with another excerpt on the same subject from “Mere Christianity” – “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves”, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good”. We are trying to let our mind and heart go their own way- centered on money or pleasure or ambition- and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly.

And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short, but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and resown.”

The Gospel is good news indeed! – and it involves surrender and life. Both go hand in hand! More on that next week, but for now would you imagine with me what impact living out this kind of love could have – on your marriage, on your children, on your neighbours, on your friends, on society ..and on the future direction of your life? And then consider one more thing – this is actually doable! God wont set us up to climb a wall that’s impossible to scale!

To follow Jesus is to follow the path of love.
And the path is a thorny one
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Jesus condensed the whole requirement of God into two simple statements – Love God. Love your neighbor. And before his death, He gave one more final command to his inner circle of disciples – “love each other”.

So what then is love, this thing that God puts such a massive emphasis on?
Is it hugs, kisses and affirmative words? Birthday surprises, laughter, good times? Shared secrets, meals and WhatsApp groups? Exchanging smiles, wishes, prayer and stories on Sunday mornings?

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus, begs the community there to walk in unity and then adds, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God” .

As I turned this sentence over in my mind, in particular the words, “gave Himself up‘, it occurred to me that what God calls love is so vastly separate from our own perceptions of it. Walking in love, Paul says, is to love like Christ loved. In short, it is to give ‘self’ away – or to use Paul’s words, it is to “give oneself up”! A quick reflection on my own life revealed that what I call love has often stopped short of what God calls love. That is, my love always stops short of giving my ‘self’ up.
When self hurts, love stops.
I’ll love you till you deeply offend me (hurt my pride). I’ll make time for you if it doesn’t cost me all my afternoon naps. I’ll hang out with you if you don’t have ‘attitude’. I’ll reach out to you, if you’re not too difficult to reach out to. I’ll pick up your calls if you don’t call too often – for then you’re becoming co-dependent on me! You see, I’ll love you as long as I feel good about loving you!

It’s like we erect careful walls around our precious, fragile selves and love outside those self-made boundaries. The minute those boundaries are impinged upon, we raise our “trespassing prohibited” signs and hastily withdraw indoors. Needless to say that in situations of abuse boundaries are needed…. But what I’m referring to here is the tight grip we maintain on ‘self’ in the everyday routines that define our lives ( and eventually our future).
We are fearfully cagey about our time, our space, our money, our feelings, our ‘wants’ and ‘don’t wants’. We hug our ‘self-life’ tight and love others to the extent that it doesn’t cause us hurt, discomfort or sustained inconvenience.
In other words, we continue to love ourselves the most.

What I’m seeing with greater clarity now is that this is not the way Jesus loved. Shortly before his death he said to his disciples – “this is my body broken for you -take and eat. This is my blood poured out for you – take and drink” – a symbolic representation of his death on the cross and the life we would have by believing in Him. Jesus gave himself up, poured ‘self’ out – fully, unabashedly and without reserve for the world that God so loved ..and it is this love we are called to imitate.

And that’s why love is war. For to love..to truly love requires us to war against our natural instincts to protect, preserve and pamper self. The war is not against people, but rather against ourselves, as we make choices to love others despite our desire to push away!

Yep…all this seems challenging at first read. It does to me too! But I know that it leads me to helpless dependence on God who has made it possible for all who believe in Him to live in this other-centered, freeing way.

There’s more I have to say on this, but I’ll leave that for next week . ..there’s more than enough to chew on for today, me thinks!

Not too long ago I found myself in a strange and difficult place – a place where the usual ‘comfort foods’ that bolstered my sense of well-being were gone! The odd thing about stuff we lean on is that we don’t realize how much they prop us up until they’re taken away!

I was prompted to think back to this recent season by a phrase in a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian church – “unsearchable riches”. Here’s the full context: ” Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” ‘ Unsearchable’ – that which cannot be traced out..In the original Greek language, the word literally means, ‘past finding out’. In my comfort-less existence at the time, I  was in a sense forced to look at what I had in the vacuum left by what I missed.  And what I had was the promise of those somewhat elusive, ‘unsearchable riches of Christ.’

In my pain, I realized I ‘d made a fatal mistake – one that I’d been warned about before. In consistently reaching for the tangible comforts of my urban existence, I’d replaced ‘the living’ with ‘the dead’. The prophet Jeremiah speaking as a messenger of God says, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.Amazing.

Jesus came promising life…unbounded life..abundant life.  The divine message spoken through Jeremiah pointed to the root of my problem. Life can only be received from the living. . You cannot draw life from pleasant ambiences, scenic escapades, movies, get-togethers, community, stimulating conversations, memories, food, clothes, the mirror, sex, the applause of people or achievement – these do not have life -sap flowing through them! So though they invigorate for a while, sooner or later we’ll suck them dry and our straws will start making hollow. empty sounds as we scrape the bottom! This is exactly what had happened to me and in my room with no view, I began to see clearly again.

To make what may seem like a sweeping generalization, I do believe that this is our primary stumbling block- our habitual tendency to replace ‘ the fountain of living water’ -that which is endlessly alive -with that which cannot be! In many ways we’re all a bit like that Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well, throwing our pitchers into places that cannot bring up ‘living water’ . ‘Living water’, that’s what Jesus promises her -so much like those unsearchable riches that Paul later pointed to. I think that in some ways we were created to be insatiable. But the mistake we make is to look to the wrong sources to quench us. We know from the Biblical account that this Samaritan lady was looking to the promise of romantic love – she had, had five husbands and she was with her sixth lover when she encountered Jesus. She was seeking from a mere human being that endless something that only God, the fountain of living water had the resources to give. And like her, we too tend to look for life in dead places….and by ‘dead’ I mean everything that is supplied by the life of God but is not God (the life-sap source) Himself.

I ‘m far from fully grasping the ‘un-grasppable’! – those riches of Christ that are past finding out! . But this morning’s meditation was a personal reminder to me to keep my straw dipped into the right pitcher!

If you’d like to talk more about this, feel free to drop me a line at shalinaprem@gmail.com I’d love to hear from you!

Untouched by Human Hands

This is going to be a short one – a liberating insight I had this morning while meditating on scripture. This one from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Specifically, Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “ For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

When any world-class, state-of the-art manufacturing process claims that its operations are ‘untouched by human hands’ it stands as a guarantee for quality and purity. The awe- inspiring truth is that God makes the same claim about His work in us! We are His workmanship –entirely His and no ‘human hand’ has touched that process. It reminds me of what John wrote in his testimony about Jesus – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. In short, human intervention has not been allowed to ‘contaminate’/interfere with God’s workmanship. Paul goes as far as to say that we’ve been saved by grace through faith – and even that (faith) is not something we coughed up on our own but is a gift from God. Why such stringent ‘quality -control’ standards? Paul gives us the short answer – “lest anyone should boast”. God will not share the ‘credit’ with anybody. Why not? Is it because He wants to hog the limelight? Unlikely : ) One reason that comes to mind is that ‘pride’ is poison to our souls – therefore all pretensions to human achievement have been summarily dismissed! Another is the idiocy of the ‘created’ boasting against the Creator. To quote the prophet Isaiah here, ” But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

The more I chew on this truth, the more joy it gives me. The new nature that I received when I put my faith in Jesus is God-like in its purity – it is something that has been wholly put in place by Him without any help from my end…it is, to use that word again ‘ uncontaminated’ by me. My part then, my ‘work’ in all of this, is to simply accept this marvellous truth. And the more I soak it in, the more it will inform my identity and in turn my actions. He does not need me to ‘prop up’ His work, or embellish it or ‘help it along’ in anyway. My new nature is His workmanship – and that sets my being profoundly at rest. Woah!!!

If this is news to you and you are stirred to know more or curious about this ‘new nature’, do feel free to write in..

Hide and Seek

Can you see the seed ?


Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds”.

Jesus’ words are categorical – unless a seed dies, it cannot multiply. This statement becomes even more pungent when you consider that they were spoken a short while before his own death, a death that He intentionally and willingly died for the life of countless others.

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Now this is so very different from how we imagine our lives will impact the world! The ‘seed’ multiplies by completely disappearing from the scene! Our own models of increase, have us very much at the centre of the stage. We don’t plan for or even desire to perform a ‘disappearing act’. in fact what we want is the very opposite. Our multiplication model would look something like this (see figure)

Here we are at the centre with arrows flowing outward from us; each arrow representing a person or an endeavor whose ‘success’ we believe we’ve contributed to. The more ‘arrows’ we can count ( trace back to ourselves), the greater the impact we’d say we have. So in this scheme of things, ‘acknowledgement’ becomes essential – for how else are we to count the ‘arrows’?

Recently, my husband was reading up on the history of missions in India and he came across a name – Anthony Groves. Have you heard of him? I certainly hadn’t until that point. But you might have heard of his more famous brother -in-law, George Muller? Did you know, it was Anthony Groves’ ideas that impacted George Muller and these in turn impacted the choices of a man called Hudson Taylor? The excerpt I was reading said, ” A number of Groves’s closest friends became leading figures in circles soon to be known as Brethren, or Plymouth Brethren. After leaving Britain in 1829, his ongoing influence in this movement was mediated largely through his brother-in-law George Muller, and is reflected in the principles adopted by the latter in his church leadership and in his support of missionaries for more than half a century. One of those influenced by Muller was the young Hudson Taylor, whose financial support during his early years came almost entirely from Groves’s personal friends among the Brethren

So this multiplication model looks like….

The ‘seed’ in this short chain disappears and is forgotten till God resurrects it from its death to give it the praise it deserves. The article, I was reading ends with these words: “Described twenty years ago as a “neglected missiologist”, and largely unknown today, his significance might seem somewhat negligible, but to Groves we can trace back ideas that stimulated the birth of a new generation of missions following what have been called “faith principles”. These included Brethren initiatives in many countries in addition to numerous interdenominational “faith missions” inspired by the example of Hudson Taylor. With some justification, Groves has been called the “father of faith missions”. Nevertheless, his idea of using the New Testament as a practical manual of missionary methods was taken up with greatest effect not by Anglo-American missionaries but by the leaders of some remarkable indigenous movements. Notable among these was his own disciple John Christian Arulappan and, at a later date, Bakht Singh and Watchman Nee, all of whom had direct or indirect links with him . Our research concludes that the primitivist missiology of Anthony Norris Groves exerted a significant radical influence on Protestant mission in the nineteenth century, and indeed to the present day, for his ideas find many points of contact with current missiological thinking. ”

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To return to the thought I started out with, ‘multiplication’ God’s way appears to play out quite differently from the way we think it ought to work. The significance of this for me is not so much that ‘the credit rolls’ may play well after our lifetimes (certainly a thought worth chewing on), but rather the role and the purpose of the seed itself… .which is to ‘disappear’. This means that others may eat off the fruit of ‘our’ tree, and may never even recognize us as the seed that birthed it.. and conversely, only God knows ‘the seeds’ down the ages which have contributed to fruit in our own lives – like Anthony Groves’s life illustrates, there are some we can name, and others we don’t have a clue about. Only eternity will shed light on these things. This of course changes the way I measure ‘how many lives I’ve touched” but more importantly it changes my whole approach to ‘giving’.

If God’s prescribed way (and going by Jesus’ teaching, His only way) to multiplication is through the death of the seed, then giving can no longer be a ‘me-centered, ‘approval -hungry’ exercise. The focus then, to quote John the Baptist’s words is to decrease that someone else may increase. In other words, we pour ourselves into someone’s life and then intentionally bow out that they may receive the applause! Perhaps this is increase Jesus’ way..the ‘kingdom way’. So many of the word-pictures He left us point to that – salt dissolves into food, yeast merges into dough, the seed dies unseen under the earth -giving no man the glory, but God alone.


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Hide and Seek

Part one

This is for all of us who’re beginning to wonder what on earth we’re doing – for us who once believed that our lives had a grander purpose than present reality would suggest. We were supposed to change the world, not diapers; we were to walk on water, not tread the daily commute; our destiny was to become a fisher of men, not the keeper of one man (or woman). When God first took hold of us, our hearts were warmed by whispered promises of what He’d accomplish through our lives but all of that feels snuffed out now by the drudgery of the daily (read boring) routine of life …and ‘selfless’ service.

So for those of us who are (or were) at that place, here’s a thought.. A greater part of our walk with God plays out in the hidden, often unnoticed and un-applauded choices we make in the back rooms of our lives. What’s that got to do with anything I said in the first paragraph? Everything. If we take a closer look at it, our dreams for our future are preoccupied with two concerns- one is scale, the other is, audience (the onlookers!). Curtsying to God’s ovation echoing off of the walls of an empty auditorium is not quite what we hand in mind..and that for half a line in the entire play??!
Not happening!

And yet didn’t Jesus say -pray in secret, fast in secret, give in secret? In fact, He said that we should give in such a way, that our right hand is unaware of what our left hand in doing! In short, we are to live to God without an audience .. without even the ever present audience of self. But how difficult it is for us to do even the former thing -for us, who are so hopelessly addicted to needing acknowledgement for every single good thing that we do. Think about that time your heart burnt with indignation when they didn’t say thank you or left you out from the praise -list and plain didn’t ‘see’ your hardworking contribution to the cause! Truly, how difficult it is to sign ‘anonymous’ over the ‘great’ works of our lives! But dear friend, these occasions of being overlooked, of feeling that you’re in the darkness, left on the sidelines of the parade is an invitation into that sacred, private world of seeking God and living for his applause and pleasure alone.

There’s great gain to be had in this hidden seeking – great freedom and great delight! It’s a bit like silently giggling over a private joke that nobody else in the room is aware of…the gleeful knowledge of sharing something that’s wholly between you and Him! For God as we well know is more concerned about the heart than ‘appearance’ or indeed anything else. That’s what makes the whole of the spiritual life ( yeah a 100 percent of it) very, very, private indeed! Once we get this – that the ‘stage’ is in the ‘backroom’ and not in the ‘front courtyard’, it changes the whole game. The spotlight turns within, and small choices with no apparent gain become joy-filled offerings to the Lord. And then other things change too – you do things out of love, not because you want a pat on your back. and then you don’t smart at everyone else’s apparent ‘insensitivity’!
But the biggest change I think is that we begin to realize that while there may be a ‘bigger’ purpose to our lives, it never really gets ‘bigger’ than love – and that purpose has opportunity for expression in every single day and in every single nook of our lives!

Which brings me to this question (one I’ve often thought about) – if God were to run a highlighter over our life-works, which ones do you think He’d pick? Would scrubbing the grime out of our hubby’s shirt- collars out-win preaching at church? Would forgiving a friend outweigh leading hundreds into the forgiveness that God freely offers in Christ? God knows. But this I know, He is looking at me and you right now in this moment and you can change what you are doing, thinking, feeling right in this moment into a grand, praise-filled work for God.

More to come..


I


My Friend, Raju Bhaiya

Meet my friend Raju Bhaiya. But first a little background. I got to know Raju while working with him in teaching a small bunch of dalit kids in rural North India. Presently he’s employed in the same hospital where he was carried in as a patient a couple of years or so ago. While racing to the local market to make some last minute purchases for his wedding that was to happen a few days later, he got into a terrible accident. The consequent spinal cord injury resulted in him losing access to half of his body and as he thought then, his whole future.

Now please take a moment to watch this video.


Amazing right? In the midst of darkness, light! What moves me about this video is possibly the very same thing that moves you -the beauty of God’s restorative love showcased in every defiant dance move – even in the vibrancy of this young man’s torso that refuses to be enslaved by his limp limbs. His story should’ve had a more predictable ending – depression and suicide at its worst ( and it did go there ), resignation and endurance at its best – but dancing with joy!? – that’s not the ending we’d expect of this story..and yet that kind of ‘twist in the tale’ is exactly what we need to see over and over again to restore our broken hope in God.

Which brings me to the thing that I want to share.
The world needs more stories or rather, it needs more “true stories”. To put it another way, what we are hungry for is incarnated truth. And what we are actually weary of (although we may not quite realize it ourselves ) is intellectual truth..truth that stirs our minds but leaves our souls intact. Incarnated truth; the truth our lives and choices display, teaches, encourages, admonishes and transforms in a way that ‘wisdom’ cannot.


Some years ago, I was mentoring a young lady who was part of a church discipleship programme that required regular one to one meetings with me, stretching over several months. At the end of this duration, the ‘mentees’ were required to express their appreciation for their mentors in some way. This young lady wrote me a letter I’ll never forget. I expected to find in there some mention of the many ‘gems of wisdom’ I’d shared with her in our frequent conversations together, some pointer to how these glittering insights had changed the course of her life : ), but to my surprise the one thing she’d highlighted was the one that I wasn’t even aware she was looking at. What had impacted her was the fact that we had these meetings at my home, at a time when I was the primary care giver for both my ailing grandmother and my mum who was going through cancer treatment. That was the first time that my dim eyes were opened to understanding that it is lives that transform lives. And that words while powerful, are only as impactful as the truth they embody in the speaker’s life. Simply put, what we learn from a Bible study or hear on a Sunday morning is often (though not always) forgotten, but what we learn from a person’s life endures forever in our hearts and we often become the imitator of those things in our own lives.

I have sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which is exactly what I teach everywhere in every church.…
– Apostle Paul, The Bible