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.

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!

Voice of the Pilot

In the summer of 2015, with a heavy heart, I’d boarded a flight on my way back home. I was heavy-hearted because I am back from attending the funeral service of my dear elder brother’s departed soul.

My mother dropped me to the local bus terminal. She reminded me to not indulge in unwanted thought and assured she’d be praying for me.

When I boarded the flight from Dimapur Airport (DMU), the pilot welcomed us. The pilot assured us of a pleasant flight in his hoarse voice. He was talking after taking few breaks, it seems.

It was a pleasant flight till we stopped at Kolkota Airport (CCU) for allowing some passengers to join us. It rained very heavily.

In the meantime, the pilot apologizes for the delayed take off. After a brief wait we take off heading towards our destination New Delhi (DEL).

Upon nearing our destination, sudden jerking of the plane can be felt inside. A likely squall from the nearby Thar Desert region seems to be causing turbulence in the plane.

We, passengers, are in panicky-mode when we are told to calm down and wait for advice from the cockpit. We waited. With the turbulence being still there, it is more than difficult to remain calm.

Passengers young and old are demanding update from the pilot in that short, long, span of time. No update was received as expected. Instead the flight stewards are trying to calm everyone on board.

The pilot’s voice might not bring good news, we don’t know, but still we wanted to hear his voice. That’s when this line crossed my mind, ‘the pilot who hardly speaks’.

In moments of distress, we wanted hear some voice with authority, at least, from time to time. But the pilot did not do that. He might have his reasons but we don’t know!

Then, a voice was finally heard. We are diverted to take landing in the nearby Airport available, as the condition did not improve.

We made a U-turn and headed towards Lucknow Airport (LKO), where we did refueling of the plane. There we landed.

Again, it is time to wait for the voice. Personally, with my health not in its best, it was difficult to endure such kind of journey. But I have no choice in hand.

Darkness has already descended. The four hours, approximate, traveling time has been doubled. When we first boarded the flight we did not expect this to happen.

Again, we take off and reached our destination New Delhi airport more than five hours late. We were tired and exhausted. But finally we deboard the plane and we will be home, soon.

Let me tell you why I narrate this journey:

It has great similarity with my own life. The usually empty heart, the unexpected turns, and U-turns. Always needing a guiding voice. The insecure heart!

In our journey of life, there is a pilot. The journey cannot and was not always pleasant. We can be empty, tired, and exhausted due to different and difficult circumstances. I am also one of them.

Many times, we wanted to hear a voice which assured us to go on even in unwanted circumstances. The voice of the pilot of our life – Jesus Christ, was unheard. Especially, when most needed.

But His voice not being heard does not mean He is not there. Yes, sometimes He remained silent. He might be silent because we did not pay heed to Him. Or, may be, He has far greater plan beyond we can understand.

As long as Jesus Christ is there in the cockpit, He will lead us home. He will not leave us midway.

U-turns are a possibility. Personally, when I tried to settle down the way I’d planned, I was made to take U-turn in life earning zero. But since He is there, I have hope.

Even if I did not take off from my present situation, I will meet Him one day and all my questions will be met. That voice, I longed to hear again in my journey of life.

Should there be a necessity to crash in my journey, my pilot knows what’s best. I know my pilot. Did you? Will you?

One day a voice will call our name to be with Him.

Piece of Cotton in My Pocket

There is a piece of cotton in my pocket. My pants’ pocket, actually. Friends, colleagues, professors, and some persons noticed. Some are curious while some of them who saw me using it told me I am being careful.

Piece of cotton in my pocket
Piece of cotton

During our first year in the University we met many new faces. Being new to each other, we wanted to know people more. Our eyes easily spotted if there is anything unusual. A guy knew I had cotton in my pocket:

‘Where did you hide your syringe? You must be using drugs.’ He told me straight
in my face.

‘Uh-huh, that’s not it. My nose bleeds anytime. So….’

‘That’s weird,’ he said. ‘Sorry bro!’ he continued.

‘Yeah, but I needed it every time I was out from home. And that’s alright.’ I said.

Later on, I have come across silly and weird questions not only in college campus. When I started working, same thing happens few times. It is normal with me.

Fresh blood oozing out from any part of the body can never be good. So I’d consulted doctors for treatment, which easily derailed my time-table as a student.

In medical term, it is called Epistaxis, which means bleeding from the nose or blood draining out through nostrils, in common language. It can be due to several factors.

For me, there is no specified time, it happens anytime anywhere. The best thing for me to do is to get ready and quickly take care of it myself. That is why I always kept cotton in my pocket.

Many times, I had to walk out from class. I had to rush to the washroom. Put cotton in my nostril to block outflow of the blood. I’d even attended the class with cotton in my nose.

It can be painful at times. When there’s too much blood being blocked inside the nostril it can entered our mouth too. It was a very disgusting experience to taste blood unwillingly.

As far as possible, I do not want to miss anything because of my nose bleeds. I refused to be let down. I simply hope that it is just for a phase and will cease to happen in the near future. I try to be as normal as I could. Using public transport can be troublesome but I have no choice.

‘I am fine.’ I said to myself. ‘Lord, You see this so you will take care of it,’ I murmured to God because I feel He was with me the whole time. At times I felt dejected though, and the more I murmured. But I am not actually blaming Him in any way. Just acknowledging Him.

The same happened at my workplace too. Sometimes I’d posted or updated unwanted ‘Facebook status’ in my wall. I was criticized. It was annoying for some people.

The irritations, the embarrassment, and the pain can, sometimes, nullify my positive approach. But in His abiding grace, He led me on. It has been going on for several years like that.

‘Dear Lord, help me not to missed putting a piece of cotton in my pocket,’ I used to pray.

Why not pray for the problem to end? I questioned myself. But at times, this nasal bleeding led me closer to God so I simply don’t want to let go. It makes me wanting for His Abiding Presence and Care in my everyday life. So it let me talk to Him more.

There is a phase in life, which need to just pass by. The waiting is hard though. But I was happy I’d earned like people although there is bigger problem in store for me at that time-My Epileptic Disorder. It is just a matter of time for my neurological disorder to get diagnosed. That is for another topic.

In case you missed my points, here are some of the reasons behind writing this simple piece:

The first time ever I thanked God for creating COTTON came because of my nasal bleeding. It makes me think of the importance of His creations.

As I said earlier, some difficulties in life makes us closer to God because there is none like Him. He is always there although we put Him mostly as our last resort.

The holy Son of God bored our sins as dirty or red as crimson, He made them as white as wool, Isaiah had mentioned. (Isaiah 1:18 NLT) The very pretty white piece of cotton became useless when covered in blood. However, we get cleaned in His grace.

The piece cotton in my pocket gave me comfort. But it is God who let it stop the bleeding. In our difficult times, we get comfort in His abiding presence.

At least, I have clean cotton with me. I am always thankful. I have seen cotton cultivation and it is a long process to have ready-to-use cotton with me.

Let me end herewith all adversities can get us closer to God or part ways with Him for eternity.

My Lost Spanner

Fall season for the year is about to end. People started harvesting rice from their paddy fields.

When the harvest season is approaching, it is time for servicing of our old and very small, Rice Mill Plant. For machinery work a “>spanner always become handy.

For starters, a spanner is a tool with openings or jaws shaped for gripping or turning nut or bolt. It comes in different sizes and numbers as the nuts also comes in different sizes.

a spanner and a ring
A spanner: for reference

For some machinery, there is a particular number or sizes, which fit with most of the nuts. And we stored these tools in wooden tool box.

Let me tell you something that happened in my early teenage days:

One morning, my father told me to inspect our field, where we grow mustard for its leaves and seeds, located in the vicinity of the hills nearby a river. We started growing mustard plants in the onset of winter.

I readily agreed, as I know he would be busy with machinery work during the day. I pleaded that I will ride a bicycle to the farm. Since the road can be bumpy with no proper road, my father doesn’t seem to like the idea. It is for my safety as our bicycle can develop a snag during the ride.

I kept pleading hard. So, I was allowed to go, using our bicycle. I took one spanner with me so that if it develops a snag, I could easily mend it.

My bicycle ride was smooth that day, until I accidentally lost control and hit a rock on the way. My cycle really develop a snag around the headset adjoining the front forks. I tried to tighten it, and alas, my spanner’s gone!

Where is my spanner? My father would need it during the day! I keep searching up and down the road but unable to find it! I had been warned about this! I am sweating despite the morning cool breeze blowing gently.

With a heavy heart I went back home. “Whoa! You’re fast!” said my daddy. I tried to gather my composure and smile back. “I saw you taking a spanner with you. Now, please give it back I am going to need it,” continued my father.

Feeling guilt-ridden and helpless, “My friends borrowed from me as we met on our way,” I said. Father said nothing but he helped me get ready for my school. He assured that he would manage without it.

The whole day I had been thinking about that spanner. What if I didn’t find it back! What will I say to my father? The thought kept repeating the whole time. School was not fun today!

When I came back from school, I tried to not come face-to-face with my father. I felt very guilty. But just when I was about to enter our house, father called me!

“See, what our neighbor found on our way to the farm?” he said. And that’s my lost spanner.

He told me that our neighbor went to get some mustard leaves for soup after me. He found the spanner in a bush on his way. Further, there was some damage to the crop and I did not inspect the farm this morning.

The truth was out in open! It was expected. I am unable to hide it. I was proven guilty! What now?

“I am sorry. I was lying the whole time. And I am tired. Forgive me, please?” I could barely manage to utter these words with my choked voice. I was filled with tears.

Father held me in his arms tight. “You are forgiven. Don’t do it again,” he said rubbing my head gently. And we prayed to God for His forgiveness.

A moment had passed when I regained my composure. This time full of joy and gaiety – free from my guilt-ridden heart. I regret not having confessed early before school. It is hard to spent time with a heavy guilty mind. My day could have been so much fun at school, I said to myself.

I wonder how my father could have forgiven me so easily. To which he replied because I am his son!

It is not easy to live with guilt. It can be devastating. Guilt-free life I wanted to live. It is good to confessed and reconnected with God every now and then.

We have a father who always loved us: A father who art in heaven yet His abiding presence felt all over the earth!

Abiding Grace: The Joy of Sharing in Sufferings

When we suffered hardships in life, we wanted someone to talk to. That too, if we are able to talk. We wanted to pour out our sufferings by letting it out.

There is no joy to any types of suffering yet there can be joy to any types of suffering. Personally, I’d been through some hardships and suffering and from the people I met on the way. Let’s discuss some of them.

Not all people understand our inner feeling. Most people tend to hide within us. People are afraid to share their sufferings to any random person. We need someone trustworthy, understanding, and not repulsive in nature. Yet it is hard to find.

There are some who could simply react to your sufferings in one sentence – blunt and plain. For, they do not know what is burning inside someone’s life. However, it would be wise not to react or question someone suffering any pain, be it emotional, physical, or even in grief.

When we are in suffering mode, our mind roamed around leading us to happiness and sadness, inside our heart. This resulted in changes of mood frequently, which sometimes becomes unbearable for us and our surroundings.

It is a privilege, I could say, to meet several people I have known in their sufferings and talked with them. Some get comforted and find joy in their suffering as it will not lasted forever. There will be an end to sufferings although in different ways.

Years ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer. It left us in great distress. We do not know what is before us yet we expect something worst to happen as the suffering is life-threatening. That same year, we learned that I would be undergoing brain surgery due to my prolonged neurological disorder.

My father was done with his first round of Chemotherapy when I was operated upon. Unfortunately yet may be God willing, my father and I becomes suffering partner to whom we can deeply let out our sufferings. We talked about so many things. Let lay out some of them here:

About The End:

Death has been the subject of our sharing, sometimes. We reassured each other of what lies ahead. Being both of us enjoying the Salvation of Jesus Christ, we are determined to meet Him in the near future.

In the course of time, I’d brushed with death, which I gladly share with my father and my families. You can read in details here. There is far better place waiting for us to enjoy. No science and technology needed to proof or help but the blood of Christ, shed many many years ago, was sufficient to get us there.

I remember my father calling me over the phone one particular day. He told me, “I thought my end has been approaching. The time has come to be with Him. I can sense death calling. But I am not afraid to go. However, it is not time yet!” I could sense him smiling while telling me this. He was laughing although tired, during our conversation. It was a great relief to hear that! And we rejoice in praising the Lord for such comfort.

A year ago, his time has finally come. My dear father, see you in Heaven!

About Life: (The special Child)

We did talk about life a lot. There are several things we wanted to re-do or make-over but that’s not possible. So far, the sufferings we had are for our own life; very less for others around us. Yet if God blessed upon our sufferings, it can be useful. And we prayed for that too.

‘The special child of God,’ we called ourselves. Yes, there is nothing special about not being able to lead a normal life, at least for a while. I will tell you why we called ourselves special child of God.

In our suffering, we talked to God more often. We need Him every minutes and every hour to be with us. Whatever happens and whatever comes our way, if God is with us, the rest we worry not. We wanted to be in-touch with Him all the time.

More so, our heart becomes more open to Him ever than before. His words are more penetrating than usual. We are in fellowship with our Savior. He looked after every minute details of our life and He is always close by – within reach. To the suffering soul, He is always near.

Does God Really Care?

Jesus Christ’s prayer for His disciples and all believers in John 17:6-25, I remembered, we discussed in a lengthy conversation. We also get comforted by His prayer – the Prayer of the Lord to His Father. He is still praying for us in the same way or even more than before.

In this prayer, it is clear that Jesus Christ knew exactly what we are going through. He Himself lived in this world in our human form. The pain, sufferings, hardships, He knew it all. He’d been through it. He’d seen it all. And now that’s very comforting.

Although I wanted to discuss these verses in great detail, let me pick some in between here. These are the prayer Jesus Christ had for us. Please go through them:

“While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” (Verse 12a) He really did. He saved them from their physical sickness and even from the death.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (Verses 15 and 16) Our sufferings are allowed but not to cause us harm beyond we can stand.

The One who doesn’t belong to this world had gone through sufferings. So, we must also endure some sufferings. But He will protect us from the evil one.

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (Verse 26) This is exactly what He did. Made known to us and He will never let us suffer alone being Him within us.

We get comforted with this verses in the midst of our sufferings. When we can found the implications and express it out there can be joyous moments.

Becoming a Partner in Sufferings:

Everyone needs someone to talk to, to let out to someone trustworthy while in sufferings. For me, most unexpected, unfortunate or uncalled for, my father becomes my suffering partner. Being both of us suffering we can almost fully understand each other.

Sometimes full of hope, the other time with less hope – the mind of a suffering person can be unsteady. Anyone can fit in as a partner, someone who will listen to them. One does not need prior training. We have God-given quality to do so, if we are willing. You can be one of them.

For those sufferers who do not have someone to share their mind, Our God is there to listen. Not only listen, He act upon our cases too. Although His ways are beyond what men can understand. Not acting or doing something the way we desired does not mean that God is not working. He is always at work.

Lastly, I did not finish my race yet, but I write because I hope it might be useful.

To Timothy, Apostle Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) This was written shortly before his (Paul’s) death.

Although, Apostle Paul’s sufferings were way beyond my sufferings, which I firmly belief. When I finished this world of suffering, I wanted to say the same with my head held high.

Within the Limited Pasture

We tend to herds of cattle in the green pastures nearby our village. When we are busy with other work, we tie them with a long rope so that they can roam around freely, but within a limited space.

They are used for ploughing our paddy fields where we grow rice during the monsoon season. It is our duty to feed them as much as we could. These herds of cattle are important assets to the farmer. They become a source of livelihood for some families.

herds of cattle in the field
Cattle grazing in the pasture

Being their importance emphasized, we took good care of them. However, after much of the preparation of soil for cultivation was done, we juggled our time for their care and other work.

We, usually, tie them in the fields. We control them. They cannot move beyond our permitted distance. We took them to different places where the grass is greener. Even in their limited space, we assured they get their needs.

Some Reasons for Limiting their Movement in the Pasture:

In short, they lack conscience which makes it necessary for them to be within our controlling limit.
When they are free to roam as much as they wanted, they’d damage the crops of other villagers. The damage need to be borne by their owners.

When they intruded, to farms and gardens being owned by other villagers, some of the folks tried to physically hurt the cattle. They cannot fully protect themselves. And, we don’t want that to happen.

Further, they can easily get lost into the vast landscape, either losing their way or being snatched by other folks to sell in the black market.

On some occasions, they would fall down in a pit or deep gorge. They needed to be rescued every now and then. We put them safe from the attacks of wild animals too.

To avoid these unwanted circumstances, we have limited their movement and put them under our control.

Living within Limited Space:

Although we gave them their needs and keep them safe, they don’t seem to enjoy all the time. It is in their innate being to get loosed and roam around the wild.

As wild as they could, they do not want us to be in control. They are unable to know the plans and care we had for them.

Within their limited space, they would, sometimes, rebel hurting to the owner physically. They can even protest in some situations.

Just imagine if I could care this much for our cattle being safe and fed, how much our Heavenly Father would care for us. We are His sons and daughters – through the blood of His own son.

There aren’t certain limitations prescribed – free to do whatever we like. To each person according to his performance and deeds, we will be rewarded on Judgment Day.

For the thinking mind, this verse from the Holy Bible contained all the possible Dos and Don’ts:

“You who are young, be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9 NIV)

However, if you are among the un-believers of life after death, you don’t need to bother about it.

To Ponder Over:

God worked all things after the counsel of His own will: That we should be to the praise of His glory. (Read Ephesians 1:11-12)

Yes, God is in Control and under His limitations, we are safe.

Under His limitations, we can be happy. God cares more than any human ever could.

Do you agree?