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.

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.

Seven Lessons to Learn from the Kite Runner

In the city where we now lived, kite-flying has been a common sight as the Independence Day of India is approaching.  Young men and children throng the few open spaces available in the city.

Kite flying in the sky
Kites soaring in the sky

The country’s artist and composers are hugely inspired by the man-made flying object – the Kite.  The Hindi word ‘Udaan’, which can be loosely translated in its Verb form as ‘to soar, to fly or flying’ has been mostly associated with positive inspirations.

In villages and country-side, there are lots of people who do not have the chance to get a glimpse of the modern airplanes.   Although most of fed ourselves, sleep and enjoyed the luxury of the flying object.  For many, it is still a distant dream.

One evening and as usual, we were strolling for our evening walk in the park nearby.  There are few boys flying a kite but two boys catch my attention as I’d sit down in the corner and watch them enjoying.

Kite Flying by young person
Kite Runner enjoying the moment

By their appearance, one seems to be younger who follow the command of the older boy.  Orientation of understanding the hierarchy doesn’t seem to be needed, or they already it, that I don’t know.  However, they are blending quite well.  They work together like a good team.

And as I watched them, their effort paid off after several attempts.  They are running the kite with excitement as the kite began to soar higher and higher.  In gaiety, they looked around their friends proudly.  It is hard to put in words, how happy they when they saw the kite soaring, from their very own hands.  It is a great achievement for them.

Now they wanted to do something by winding the reel, as they are confident their kite wouldn’t simply go down.  They tangled the reel with the nearby kite and successfully cut the reel of another kite.  The other kite runner eventually lost control of his kite, which started to dwindle in the sky following the current of the wind.  They are nor more connected.

As darkness gradually descended, the boys are hesitant to let go of their flying kite.  They simply don’t want to take down the flying kite.  I saw them tying the reel in one of the bench so that the kite will soar on its own.  Now they headed towards the gate of the park, as it was time for them to go home.

They had just reached the gate, when they came back running.  At this instance, I could see their dilemma and enquired their next step.  The boys are shivering as they felt too connected. And they told me, they are afraid it might get lost or either way it might not fly for long before it was grounded by the wind.  More so, someone might take it home, they said.

So they took down the flying kite slowly, handled with care, and took it home.  Safely in their arms, they held the kite when they make their way out of the park.  In the process, it can be seen they have great pleasure in taking home their favorite possession.

Several thoughts strike me as I make my way out of the park too:


One, it is in our natural instinct to be wanting to soar one day, at least achieved something, like the other creatures of God.  Some of us succeeded while others did not.  It is in the hands of God.

Two, in everything there needs to a leader and it emerges out when needed.  A guide, who provided valuable insights and a shoulder to cry on, when needed.

Three, we tend to hurt someone nearby when achieving and enjoying our goals, whether knowingly or unknowingly.  Four, to our God we are His prized possession saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.  He takes pride in us being in Him.

Five, our God full of grace, wanted to stay connected with His creature, in this context, like the Kite Runner.  Six, our God would never leave us midway in our journey.  He let us enjoy the soaring  and He will take care of each one of us.

Last and more importantly, when our flying time was over, when our journey comes to an end, Our God will take us home safely in His loving arms.  Especially, to those who believed in the salvation through his own Son!

Familiar Path: Going with the Flow

We tooked off our clothes in a hurry.  The sun has come up and it’s already noon.  One after another, we jumped into the river.  This is our favorite recreational activities during our childhood days.  We are very much familiar with the river.

Sometimes we are in groups, the other times we are with few selected friends.  Especially on Sunday afternoon, when almost all the children in our area are free, we enjoyed a lot in the river bank.

The most enjoyable days are when the current of the river becomes stronger – some days after heavy rain.  During monsoon seasons, due to adequate rainfall, the river current has always been stronger.  For a regular swimmer, those days are a treat!

Image of a River
Parts of a Flowing River

We just keep ourself floating, the current would take us wherever we wanted to be.  We don’t need to swim at all.  We simply go with the flow.  Just give one stroke when necessary, either for changing direction, or to get out of water.

We knew the turns and depth of the river as we go with the flow.  However, there could be unexpected threat, new whirlpools, lying in our path.  It is because of the change in the river bed due to incessant rainfall the other day.

Not all whirlpools are a threat for somebody who knew how to escape.  Some whirlpools will take you down to the river bed, while some will simply throw you on the other side of the river bank.  For a regular, we know how to and where to react.  That was the level of our confidence.

However, there are mysterious things happening under water.  Our familiarity did not save us always.  During those monsoon seasons, the river would take few lives.  There are always chances for accident or disaster to happen, even in the most unexpected ways.

Our familiar, most familiar, path too can be where we fall, in our walk of life.  Our familiarity and area of expertise could be a threat in our walk of life.

Samson, one of the Biblical characters mentioned in Judges, was going with the flow in pursuing his desires.  His character was referred to as ‘a person who was going down’.  In the end, he was captured and died along with a pool of his enemies.

Many times in life, I’ve been confident.  I told myself, I will not fall into unwanted circumstances yet the reality is different.  When we become very familiar with the path, the surroundings and probable outcome, we are unable to find the trap.  There we fall in the familiar path.

By simply going with the flow, it will take us to its predestined destinations.  Much worse, we might get lost on the way, missing our kicks or stroke.  In the river, the more we enjoyed the more we get tired.

Eventually, we need to get out of the water less we get drowned.  If we stay late till we become exhausted, the possibility of losing our lives becomes greater.  Those missed stroke of arms, in the appropriate timings, can cost our lives.

When it was time for us to go, we counted our friends to make sure no one get missing or drowned.  Every life needs to be counted.  If someone seems to be drowning, either we pull them out or provided our help.  That is what friends are for.

When friends are with us, we can take pleasure even in flooding river.  When God is with us we can face any situation, as we are confident inside in trusting Him.  For a normal Christian, we must helped out our suffering friends, here believers, from getting drown in their misery

Now, the same applies in our lives too.  Going with the flow could be always easy but can be fatal.  As much as we enjoyed the flow of the river, we need to stay alerted.   We need to seek the way of the Lord and not depend on our expertise.  Our God valued everyone, not even one should perish. (John 3:16)

Especially for believers, we need to look out and not get absorb in our selfish ambitions.  Our fight is more to what cannot be seen.  Stay connected with God so that we don’t missed, those important stroke, in their appropriate time.

When we enjoyed life, sometimes too much contentment, in earthly creature and things, we tend to go far from God.  If we don’t have anything, then also, we are unable to see things the right way.  Too much poverty or riches, can blind us.

Let us not get carried away in our short journey of life.  (Col 3:17) In everything, give thanks and performed to bring glory to our Lord Jesus Christ!