Conforming or Not

We know it was risky and he too was well aware of it, I hope. He came running to leap forward and jump into the river bank below. But then, he stopped at the edge of the river wall about fifteen meters high.

“Jump! Jump! Jump! You can do it,” we shouted. We cheered him to give it another try.

He looked down calculating in his mind whether he’d be able to reach the water. There was a huge deposition, near the water, caused by the recent mud sliding. He couldn’t get his pride killed easily.

We cheered him again. I don’t remember who started it. We wanted to let him do it by any means, it seems. We, bunch of boys, conformed to let him jump so that he might learn his lesson.

This time, more determined, he went back. And he came running as we are still cheering for him. He jumped from that height!

THUD! A sound burst! He couldn’t make it to the water! He was reeling in pain. The clapping and cheering had stopped suddenly.

We quickly swim to the other side of the river. We stand nearby him. There was no immediate help available. We don’t know what to do. After sometime, he came back to sense. It was huge relief for all of us.

This happened during our pre-teen and early teen years. We easily fall prey to what is commonly known as peer pressure. We try to avoid being different and bear the wrath of ‘the brutes’ among our group of friends. Especially when we’re going for a swim, away from home, in the river nearby the hills.

Having not protested against the unwanted cheering and clapping, which caused great pain to one of our friend, I regretted a lot. Yet I am glad he has learned his lesson and does not sustained any irreparable damage to his body.

Conformity:

Conformity, in other words, is succumbing to pressure groups. To conform is to act in accordance with the prevailing standards, attitudes, practices, compliance to the surroundings, and the likes.

It is one of the most difficult stages to overcome in life, especially during our pre-adolescence or adolescence period. In our adolescence years, we wanted to be accepted, have friends and abide by their or our rules.

Grownups, like you and me, must have been through these stages in our life, I hope. However, the way we have experienced and overcome the same would different. The time has come now, for us to help our young ones when they been through this stage.

My young friends, if you are still in this phase, do not get discouraged if you cannot get conformed to your surroundings. This is one of the many tests of life you are about to get passed with flying colors. It is important to not get carried away with the swarm of flies.

In case, you are faced with dilemma day in and day out, ask our God for His abiding help and presence. The hormonal changes and the adrenaline rush are not easy to get by, but it can be conquered.

Do Not Conform:

It is enjoyable, pleasurable, and easily addictive to conform in the ways of the fallen world. Everyone enjoyed doing sinful practices, although with guilt ridden heart. The pleasure and enjoyment can be short-lived.
Now, let see what the Bible says for a believer to follow:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

‘Dare to be different’, in a good way, in the likeness of Christ is what the Bible is teaching. Do not depend on your own interpretation of God’s word, it can be hugely misleading.

We have lived in the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air. All of us lived among them at one time, following the desires of flesh and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3) But we have been saved by the grace of God.

Not conforming also means to not go with what the majority are doing in a place or time, if our deeds would demean our faith as well as others.

Participation and separation in the fallen world is a pilgrimage in progress. (2 Cor. 6:17) Our participation to the world must not discourage others nor should our separation hurt other person, in our path to follow Christ.

A Reason to Love

We were observing our story time, one late noon, in our home.  All their home assignments were done.  We lie down while I narrate Biblical stories, repeating each time they’d requested.

“Papa, papa, I love you very much”, said my son holding my right hand tightly.

“I love you too, son.  Any special reasons….?” I replied feeling a bit curious.  At which time, his younger sister was already asleep in my left lap.

“I am happy when you are with us.  We really missed you when you stayed in the hospital.” He continued.  He was referring to a series of my long hospital stay sometime ago.

He also slept peacefully in my arm, after I had assured him that, if God’s willing, that would not happen again in the near future.  It, really, is a great privilege to feel the love of young kids.

Our Many Reasons:

Now, we all wanted to be love.  Also, we wanted to love all people, if ever, that’s a possibility.  However, knowingly or unknowingly, we set some reasons so that we could love a person and vice versa.

There’s no real reason to love.  Love today can vanish in thin air if you got so many reasons to evaluate every now and then.  It is not an obligation but a sincere heart has love deeply rooted in them.

It is easy to love a person with whom we have same interest.  In that scenario, it is unlikely that the other person might not bring harm nor inflicted pain, in any case.

What if I say, I am loved because I have to be loved, would you agree?  Parents have to be loved because they are our parents.  It is through them that we are introduced to this wonderful life.  Believe it or not, they tried their best for our upbringing.  And, they went through severe pain when they are unable to meet our needs.

Some of us love a person till they are able to meet their expectations.  If somebody loves me then they have to adjust or bear with me; that’s the attitude.   So many conditions we have set to love someone.  Yes, I agree that for no reason we can’t love a person.  But that reason should not defy our approach.

Should that be the case, there will be a time where love can become pale or inexistence.   The love of a mother and a father are timeless.  It is, always, abiding in nature.  It is a great privilege to know of such a love.

The more reason you try to gather the less you’d love.  Recalling your sacrifices more often the more you’d gets dejected.  The more you took pride in loving someone the less you would get contented.

Love comes from God

Love comes from God: We love because He first loved us. (1 John 14:19)  This is the greatest source of love.  We are loved so we know how to love, and we loved Him back.  And this love is hugely contagious.

Here please feel with me, in these short verses I wrote:

You First Loved Me

I still remember that feeling
That feeling deep in my heart
How can I forget the eagerness?
I am unable to hold any longer
I wanted to let it known to you.
When I realized, I have been loved.

You gave me Comfort
You gave me Hope
You gave me Love
Because you first loved me
Your son I had become
I love you Jesus
I love you Jesus, my Savior

**
Slain by my sinful soul,
Your sacrifice is overwhelming.
You rose from the dead
Victory over death you proclaimed
My wonderful friend forever be
In you, I will abide.

I am yours now
Have me all, have my being
Because you first loved me
Each step we take, together we will
One at a time, until we got home.

To Die Or Not To Die

As if in our hand, some of us tried toying with our life. When we hit rock bottom with no chance of recovering, we are tempted to think about it.

It might be unnecessary or unbelievable to even think about ‘to die or not to die’, but let us talked about it. The more relevant question must be the timing; now or when?

A year ago, I have my tryst with death too. For some hours I’d remain unconscious. It was not a great moment to recall the pain, when I become conscious again. But let me put a few here:

In that bout of my status epilepticus, I was given a chance to live again. All the things that worked together on that particular day cannot be a coincidence. The hand of God was surely involved, I would say. From the unknown vegetable vendor to all needed timely helpers and help I have received, it was clear that it was God who spared my life.

Seventy percent of patients who experience such episode resulted in death. It was written in the research paper I had read. I have made some research on my own about my illness. However, my doctors advised not to indulge in that process so I had deleted all my sources. If not, I could have shown you their findings.

Had I not regained consciousness I would have been dead, simple yet nerve wrecking. But I would be with my Savior, resting in His arms. People might say how unfortunate we would have been or otherwise. It’s just my supposition. Life, here on earth, will end there abruptly.

Purpose of Life:

I find no reason to boast or take pride in calling it our own life. It’s my life’, that’s how we called it often. We are not the owner of our life. God has a purpose in creating us.

Job, in the Bible, says, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2) God’s purpose cannot be undone. There are many verses to show God has a purpose for every man. “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5). Insight, from God, is needed to find it out.

For a believer, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Let me put it here about purpose of life. We wanted to talk more about the problem.

The Problem:

As I was recovering, my physical being was not restored at one go. It takes time to be able to leave the hospital. The pain, distorted eyesight, and other problems are not easy to bear. It is something normal to happen in life.

When something unusual happened: health not improving as we’d wanted, the unending financial crisis, our prayer not materializing, difficulty caused by choosing the wrong educational course, and many more, could makes us worry.

Many of us wanted to die instead of suffering more hardships and pain. But we should remember that to die is not the solution to everything. Sometimes, I also wanted to die, to take rest with Him, but I still have so many things to do; my purpose not yet fulfilled.

For those of us who lived with constant pain and difficulty, the journey could get challenging. But remember Jesus Christ is nearby you, watching you closely.

In our pain, He is pained. In our joy, He remained joyful. He wanted us to fight the good fight and overcome victoriously. In our suffering we are not alone although most of the time we seem to be alone.
When my purpose is fulfilled I would be taken home, even if I am not ready. So, don’t be tempted to die before the time comes. The time will surely come.

To Think About:

When this thought ‘to die or not to do’ loom large on your mind, take your time out. Remember our God is besides you when you endure that pain. Sometimes, He speaks but the Devil makes us difficult to hear.

What did Jesus Christ do when He was in the middle of His suffering? He had bore it all. Someday, our suffering will end. Someday, we will meet Him too.

Remember that Hope and Faith are to be use at its largest extent in our earthly life. Hope for good time to happen in future by putting faith on the Lord.

When you think you are no more valuable or no one values you anymore, remember there’s someone who valued you and gave His life for you. I am also in this suffering, from time to time, so I can tell you this.

Leave the matter to God. Let His will be done, even in our most difficult moment. It is my prayer that our God would sufficiently take care of us, even when it seems He is not working.

Again, let me end herewith the word of God, what Jesus Christ has declared, for you to ponder over:

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus Christ) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:9-10 with my emphasis added)

Let us try to make the most out of our life. That, we might live joyously but not beyond the permitted limit.

Remembering Good Times

When I have time, I could spend few times maneuvering my cursor over my place of birth with the help of Google Earth. Our house was no more but I enjoyed viewing the place. I lived some 1500 miles away.

We dwelled in that big house at the time of my birth. And I spent my early childhood days in that place. The place still flourishes inside me. The big front lawn where we’d played soccer with friends, the tree shades where we sleep when tired.

There was peace and tranquility in the house. Those particular rooms where I cried and hide, which gave me shelter. I could recall so many good times happening in the house.

The surrounding unique configuration of the land, which I still remember very well. When in the morning, we would sit in the corner of the garden looking around the beautiful contour or landscape created by God.

‘Do you think God really work in minute details to create those beautiful hills?’ whispered a friend to another. We could get stuck there in the middle, pouring out our thoughts, one after the other.

‘Who can actually design it, except God?’ came in another argument. ‘Ooh! So it must be really Him’, we agreed. Those good times are remembered fondly.

We would sing, dance, and pray in the premises of our house, praising the Lord. I could recall dining, in our house, with many of our Pastors and Spiritual Leaders from time to time. Those were the days that would not come again. Even if that happens, we were no complete family anymore.

In that place, we have seen enormous amount of good deeds of God. We have been protected, well fed, loved, and cared. Through thick and thin we remained secured. Thus the fond memory of recalling brings joy.

So this verse in the Psalms came in my mind. It reminded us to remember the deeds of the Lord: I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. (Psalms 77:11)

We might not be experiencing the deeds and miracles of the Lord, like the Israelites. But looking back at your own life and past circumstances, I hope, you’d find at least something to thank God for.

Good times don’t easily come by, like a natural phenomenon. There is someone behind those times. What we called ‘natural’ is the handiwork of the Creator Himself.

Our house was no more. There was an ethnic conflict in the region few decades ago so we didn’t reside there anymore. The house was demolished. The nearby fields were submerged in water due to a dam constructed in the region.

But, I would say, it reminded me of the goodness of God. In order that we as children might have good times, God has been working entailing peace in the region. Our emotional needs were met through our parents and family members.

It is my hope that we all have special memories, which prompted us to thank God. If you don’t have it as yet, I hope it is bound to happen soon.

Personally, it was a great pleasure for me to be able to write this article as God really did work on me. I have the privilege of experiencing God’s good deeds in my life. Hard times are superseded by some good times.

Good times might not prevail all the time but it is good to remember the good deeds of God, as some of us dearly recall our childhood days. There is hope by trusting in Him.

His miracles of long ago are the assurance that He would lead us through in both the wonderful and disappointing times of life.

What a great joy it would be to dwell in the House of God!

The Lighter Yoke

It is time for them to learn how to carry a yoke. They had grown up. It can took us some time to let them mastered the art of plowing the land. At a very young age, we started working on our paddy field cultivating rice.

We used water buffaloes for plowing the land. They suited well in the narrow terrain of a paddy field, even in the slopes of the hills. In the process, we saved fuel and money.

They can carry the yoke at ease once they are trained. It can be difficult, for us and for them. They are more than hesitant to carry the yoke at first. Yet they never forget the art of carrying a yoke, even when they are being let off once the cultivating seasons are over.

Once they can carry the yoke, they become more valued. We did not want them to get drained of all their energies. They are fed in time and taken cared.

It was not about enjoyment, they are toiling in the field for us, their owners. It never was a sort of punishment to let them work, they are serving their purpose. And we loved them a lot.

Along the way, I had observed this: when they showed their willingness to work, their yoke seems to be lighter. It might not be lighter but they get treated well in the process.

Carrying a Yoke:

Carrying a yoke is inescapable in the life of these domestic water buffaloes. We have a purpose while domesticating them. It becomes a responsibility on their part.

We, humans, are bounded by yoke in our life too. Life in itself is a yoke. In the meantime, our yoke could be lighter. That’s a possibility. God, our Creator, would work out His divine purpose in creating us. But with Him, side by side, our life could be easier and less burdened.

Now, I heard some people saying; ‘accept Jesus Christ as your savior, your life’s miseries will disappear’. I am not denying it. (That is for another topic.) But here I wanted to focus on carrying the yoke with Christ.

The Offered Yoke:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. I will give you rest. (And it doesn’t end there.) Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” We have to carry His yoke. In order to really get rest or the miseries disappear, we had to be trained and mastered the art of carrying His yoke with Him.

It implies that we need to don a new yoke, which also means that all the burdened of carrying a yoke did not disappeared, in a fortnight. If His blessings are the main reason for letting Him inside our heart, we will not get rest! (Matthew 11:28-29)

Carry on the yoke with Him, the once burdened yoke would become easy and light. We will be carrying a lighter yoke, until that day we would be fully stripped off the yoke, in His heavenly abode.

Freedom from sin was attained once we let Him into our heart. But from that day onward, we are continually afflicted by the work of evil.

Affliction came in different form. The synonyms of affliction are: suffering, distress, pain, hardship, misfortune, adversity, sorrow, misery, and many more. These synonyms are, in one way, the forms of affliction.

These afflictions would harm, and caused us pain, but they are on the side of the defeated group. The head has been crushed but the body still moving.

Our yoke could be lighter by being with Jesus Christ. There could be some big burden to carry while on the run. But the offered yoke could be attained from time to time, even if it seems hard to carry with Him all the time.

To the Lighter Yoke:

Sometimes I feel my yoke is too heavy to carry on; the family obligations, health not improving as desired, the under-performing investments, and the likes. But I am blessed to have moved on the lighter side of the yoke too.

It is my desire to learn and mastered the art of carrying this yoke. To really take the yoke offered by our Savior: The transition period could, sometimes, takes time. That is emptying self for the Holy Spirit to take over. However, it is an achievable goal, indeed.

Switching over from the heavy yoke to the lighter yoke can calm tense moments. We have our free will to do it so. There is a verse in the Bible which encourages me a lot.

When we feel deeply burdened let us focus on this: “For My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” declares Christ Jesus. (Matthew 11:30) Let us exchange our yoke so that we would feel lighter.

Bethel: House of God

He had to leave his family. His brother might kill him. He had to keep safe from his brother. He was a trickster: he had tricked his brother and father. He was untrustworthy, greedy, and on the run.

His father had opened the Gate of Heaven for him. His father had connected him to the Gate of Heaven. However, he was yet to see the Gate of Heaven, all by himself. The time has not come as yet.

After his own treachery, he must have been lonely, afraid to face the judgment of humanity. May be, meeting with God, only God, would help him in his situation. He needed to prove that he was worthy of the blessings bestowed upon him.

He hoped to reinvent himself far from home. Panting on his way, he ran not to look back until he reached a safe distance. Darkness has descended on his way. He was tired, exhausted.

He looked around, found a flat stone, and used it as a pillow. He slept there and he had a dream. In his dream, he saw the angels of walking up and down stretching from his makeshift bed to the gate of heaven. The Lord talked to him in his sleep.

“Surely, the Lord is in this place. And I was not aware of it. …….This is none other than the house of God; this is the Gate of Heaven” he said, thrilled and afraid. (Genesis 28:16, 17)

Yes, Jacob, the son of Isaac, the grandson of Abraham, it was him we were talking about.

In his most unlikely phase of journey, the Lord met him. He renamed the place, the city of Luz, as Bethel. Bethel meaning, ‘the house of God’ in Hebrew. In other words, Jacob was saying ‘God is here!’

Here, in the life of Jacob, we wanted to reiterate the omnipresence of God and meeting him. In his later life, Jacob even wrestled with God. He was a man whom God met often.

Looking around the world, men seek God and found God in their most unlikely situation. In loneliness, poverty, sickness, or let’s say, in difficult times, men seek God more than before. To those who seek Him, He really gives them comfort that the world cannot give.

When our life was sailing smooth, we sometimes, do not need Him much. Yet He was there taking care of us. God is everywhere but we have some special place to talk to Him.

For some, it might be that lonely Prayer Cabin. For some other, it might be their Place of Worship. That quiet Washroom in the corner might be the place for some to talk to Him. We are blessed to be His sons and daughters, by the blood of Christ, who can talk to Him anytime anywhere, more than to our father here on earth.

Our Bethel:

My father and mother led us to a place of prayer when we are young. I remember my father spending long hours inside the prayer cabin. I used to wonder what my father was praying for. Why my father could spent long hours inside the cabin? By now, I could understand the joy of spending time there.

In our difficult times, when something troubled us, father led us to the prayer cabin – the place he called as our Bethel, to let know the crisis to God. Although our problems did not get solved instantly, we can have peace of mind in everything when we are done visiting our Bethel.

We might not be blessed as Jacob in our Bethel but we can really rely on Him. Many of those unwanted events; our business not taking off, the crop failing, and many more, lead us to seek his presence in our life.

Reinvent:

At some point in our life, we wanted to reinvent ourselves. How we try and reinvent could be different. But reinventing without meeting our creator might not be meaningful at all. Reinventing without God would be worst than before when we fall.

Surely, there is someone who’d meet us in any circumstances. That Bethel – the House of God, could be in our heart.

Even when we did not notice God is here with us. Leading us on our path or making us fall for our own benefit.

In that very quiet place, in that pit where we fall, in that hopelessness, we can hear His voice: Giving us the will to go on as long as it takes, till we meet Him face to face.

Our situation might be better or worse than the Biblical Jacob but in everything He is here with us. In the face and challenges of life, we will not be left alone. We could enjoy meeting often because He is here!

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you’”, declares Christ the Lord. (John 14:18)

Jacob was never left alone throughout his pilgrimage. The Lord, he met on his way, was always with him.

The Lullaby Singer

“Papa, sing me a song. I can’t sleep,” said my children. They are requesting a lullaby that I used to sing.

So, I get near them and sang lullabies, making my voice as soft as I could. Before I know, their body softens and they slept peacefully. It works like magic. And I enjoyed every bit of it.

It is a good time for building strong relationships. A good time to cherish that someone in the world really enjoyed your presence and voicing around them. It is a great privilege, being able to do that, I would say.

Wait, what is a Lullaby? A lullaby is a song to lull young ones to sleep. While its primary objective is to put young ones to sleep, the wordings could be a reflection of the surroundings, happenings, and cultural perspectives.

You don’t need to be a good singer in singing a lullaby. It is rarely accompanied with musical instruments. The tune and words can be easily modified to suit what the Lullaby Singer wanted to express. A certain cultural traditions had their own wording and style of singing though.

Love is the ingredient of singing a good lullaby. It is a good way of shaping young thoughts, assuring our love and security being their parents. With certain modifications or my modifications, this is one example here:

Sleep Baby Sleep, My dear darling Baby
Oh my dear baby I love you, sleep baby sleep.
Your Papa and Mummy loves you, sleep baby sleep
The angels are watching you, sleep peacefully
My dear baby, I will always love you
Sleep baby sleep……..

You can keep on adding words and verses, till your baby slept or till you are done with expressing your love. Sometimes, it can be in the form of a story too.

The Lullaby Singer could easily thrived in any kind of society, be it modern, post-modern, pre-modern society. Even in the age of technology, we are still raising human not robot or some programmed character.

Reminiscence of our childhood, a lullaby could bring back. The love, of my parents and grandparents, easily flashback in my minds. They would put me in a handmade cradle or carry me in their back while singing a lullaby gently.

The soft patting on my backs and their back becoming softer and more comfortable as the lullaby proceeds, are my favorite childhood memories. I believe you have your cherish moments of the same experience.

Recalling those precious days; we lived in a village nearby the hills. When darkness was about to descended, Foxes barking or screaming from the nearby foothills can be heard. The hens panicked and rushed inside their pen. May be inspired by this, here is one lullaby, I could recall:

Sleep, sleep, baby sleep
Before the foxes scream, sleep my baby
If you don’t sleep, vixen might come
Oh hungry vixen! Leave my sweet child alone
My child, my love one, I will not let you take him.
Sleep baby sleep….and so on.

Since the foxes and vixen screaming were common, we felt happy and secure in our parents’ arm. So, we would easily fell asleep in their arms.

From this lullaby we, young ones, can learn that we are valued and would be protected. Our love for our parents also grew stronger.

A lullaby is useful in many ways: It can be a medium of feeding our best love and wisdom in their tender minds. It can be a great moment for building strong relationships. They will remember your very words when they grow up.

A lullaby could be a channel for passing on values. The values we wanted to focus depend on us. We can emphasize on the Love of God, our love for them as a parent, what we expect them to be, our culture and our traditions.

That is why, I say, it is a great privilege to be the Lullaby Singer, to my young ones. It made me felt valued, in a way.

Just as I still remember the lullabies of my parents and grandparents dearly, they would recall my Lullaby. By then, they would know what I really wanted to tell them at that time.