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!

Abiding Grace: Words for the Soul

Why do we study?  Simple answer could be; we study so that we may gain knowledge.  Employment is the byproduct of that knowledge.

All employed persons are not learned and all unemployed persons have no less knowledge either.  How our learning has shaped us, as a person, is what matters.


Word by word, we learn how to read.  While reading we study, which is a part of our learning.  We learn to upgrade our thought, to shape our mind, and bring about change in our society, in the least.

There are words that are all-powerful; the Words of God.  His words are filled with love, mercy, and grace for every soul.  Powerful beyond imagination; to the saved and unsaved souls, even in their dilapidated state.

Studying the Holy Bible
Studying Words for the soul

Theologians study the word of God to get better understanding of the Words, which would eventually bring them closer to God.  Yet not all theologians are filled by the Holy Spirit in their search for His fillings.  It is open to one and for all.


In one bout of my Status Epilepticus; I came to witnessed how powerful His words are!  In my semi-conscious state, I was told, somehow, I was uttering words, which would not have happened in my fully conscious state.  And I had difficulty in recalling them.

During my ICU (Intensive Care Unit) stay, God’s presence visited us in the form of His words.  For some days, I was unable to have clear thought of anything and I could hardly recall what was really happening.  In that moment, hope came alive in the comfort of His words.

Several Bible verses came into my mind in time, which I told my wife or my attendants to read it out for me.  Those verses came at the right time and served it right for what was most needed.  Unfortunately, I am unable to recall all the verses in detail.

One after another, the verses came: the Name of the Book, Chapter, and Verses in detail.  I was so ‘blessed’ to study the Holy Bible several times in my normal condition, before I could even think this is bound to happen.

Just in time, came the verses like a flash of light.  I listened to the word of God, which give me hope even in my worst physical condition.  With great hope and assurance, I can slept peacefully again and again, in His words.  Some of the verses I could still remember are from; Lamentations 3:22-25, Ezekiel 37, Psalms 91 and many more.


Here I wanted to emphasize that even when our Brain do not function properly, our God has till provided His words of hope to the soul.  So I am urging you to study and thrive on the Word of God, which would keep you going beyond the thought of human.

His word is a living word and He is also the living God.  When flashbacks of our life happen before us, we will need it the most.  So when we have time let us read, study and learn, as the school students learned, from word to word.  It will serve us good.

Word for every soul, laid bare to all of us in His flesh, during those earthly journey for a short span of time.  Let us study, meditate, and learn from the Word of God – the Holy Bible.  So that even in our most unwelcomed abnormal conditions, our mind might still pick up God’s word from the scrap of our memories, for our comfort.  Rather than studying other words, which might simply haunt us.

It’s only words, some may say, but it’s all powerful.  And His words will drag us closer to Him in His abiding grace.

Words; powerful enough to build a new relation with the Almighty!

 

Communion: At Grandpa’s Fruit Garden

In the slope of the hill, Grandpa had a fruit garden covering an entire small hill, few kilometers away from home.  Pineapple, mango, fig, jack fruit, etc. are grown in the garden.

Three small huts are built in the slope.  To save time and energy, sometimes, we spent the night in those huts.   Grandpa prepared meal using the fresh herbs found inside the garden.

A small hut in the garden
A small hut in the slope of a hill

When the dark night descended, Grandpa lit a candle and spread a sheet nearby.  Before we could sleep, Grandpa told Bible stories, interestingly and very accurately.

Among the three small huts, the middle was designed to be a small church; a church for small time day-workers and visitors.  With a wooden cross mounted on top the roof, there were; Hymn books, Bible, a mat to be spread for kneeling, and a drum – made of animal hide or skin.

When morning has broken Grandpa started his days praising the Lord.  By himself, he sang several hymns beating the drum, which we also joined when we get up, first thing first in the morning.

Luscious fruits, ready to eat, welcomed us.  ‘The Lord ripen these fruits for you’, he said.  As a child, we believed that God somehow personally ripen those fruits for us.  Grandpa told Bible stories and sometimes he would sing along as we work.  We worked in the garden till lunch.

Lunch time was always special.  We gathered in the small church, kneel on the mat and spent some time praying.  Grandpa opened his Bible and read portion of the book with further explanation.  Songs of praise followed which were sung with great enthusiasm.  In this way, we are happy and get our strength renewed.

The sound of the drum can be heard by several farmers nearby us.   I remember some farmers joining us as we prayed.  Others took it as a sign of ‘lunchtime’ and called for noontime rest.

As the evening approached, we spent our time giving thanks inside the small hut.  Sometimes, as we rush for home, Grandpa would sing hymnals throughout the way till we reached home.

As far as I know, Grandpa like to commune with God.  He spent his days with his Savior.  His happiness increase the more he commune with God.

And in that way, Grandpa also instilled the gospel in our heart.  Now, when I was about to relate Bible stories for my children, I can hear my Grandpa’s word-to-word narration of the great men and women in the Bible.

Although we lived there no more, the place becomes a reminiscence of our childhood days.  When we planted seeds of a tree, we spare time for thanksgiving and prayer.

From what I knew and observed, Grandpa commune with God in any circumstances, which becomes a valuable lesson to his grandchildren.

I seldom see Grandpa jaw-dropping and staying low.  He was always happy.  The more we commune with God the more we become happy.

Whenever I get the chance to visit him, my heart was delighted.  In those moments, first thing I heard before I gather myself up from my bed would be my Grandpa reading the Bible out loud.

He was old now but he’d spent the morning meditating on God’s word, first thing first.

Grandpa imparted priceless life’s lesson for his family without saying a word.

Unanswered Prayer 2: It is well with my soul!

It has already been a decade ago when I first experienced this heavy blow to my life.  Since then epileptic or seizure related problem has been, alomost consistently, troubling my life.  It caused, undeniably,  huge effect in my professional life as well as home front.

The regular visits to doctor and the subsequent scannings, be it CT-Scan or MRI scan, became part of my life.  Many times, I wanted to do away with the problems.  It was costly and tiresome.  However, this experience was a kind of blessings in disguise, as I consistently need to be in-touch with my God.

That being said, I wanted to be free from the clutch of this neurological-disorder, to lead a normal life again.  Hope, for the best, is the only option for this, as I have been through the fighting process.  I need to be fully guarded in the hands of my Lord, and that’s how I feel for a decade now.

That day, when I was admitted for monitoring in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) of a city hospital, I deeply hope it will be a life-changing experience for my better living.  Something was spotted in the MRIs few years ago.  For 25 days, Video EEG (VEEG) monitoring test was done on me.   It is done to find out the root cause of the illness, and the possibility of correction by Brain Surgery, which will help controlling the illness.

During the course of VEEG, we (me and my family) prayed hard so that surgery might, somehow, be avoided.  However, my prayers went unanswered or very much heard, I would say.  But at that particular point, God did not work as I’d desired.  His plans are higher than my plans.

It was a long boring procedure, where so many ‘leads’ are attached to my body, especially my head.  Twenty-four hour video surveillance was done, which were focussing on me.  Lying on the bed, in that tiny room, was a not so deary affair.  It was a good time for reading books though.

So, at the end of the day, doctors found enough evidence for going forward with surgery that it might help.  ‘Get prepared and come back for brain surgery’, I was told.  That is the reason why I categorized as unanswered prayer.  Still surgery was needed!

Since brain surgery is a big thing, with many unwanted possible outcome, I was left devastated.  Many prayer request were made, which work for the goodness of me.  My parents spent their time in the prayer cabin, which provided life-line for their son.

Now, surgery was performed on me, which was successful, they said.  I recovered well.  However, there is something in store for me.  Exactly after one month, the least expected occurrence happened.   Those episodes brought me closer to Him, so it was a good experience although it was not as I’d asked for.

Medication can control unwanted experiences by now.  I am grateful for what I had gone through although it was a bitter experience.   Although full recovery seems to be a long distant dream, which, I hope, will happen one day, in His time.

Unwanted yet expected pains and feeling are common.  It becomes an experience of a lifetime.  A lot like a stream in the desert.  Although I am not completely free from the disorder, it is advantage me as of now.  In many ways, unanswered prayers, for the time being, can be useful in our lives.  They are answered but not as we desired, I would say.

For more than three decades in a row, I’d the privilege of using a brain free from wear and tear.  It does not need any servicing or oiling in between, which is above the highly regarded man-made materials and inventions.  And, I am more than thankful for that.

These episodes helped me walk more closely to my Savior.  It becomes an inescapable event, which in many other ways, benefitted my soul deeply.  It is more than I can asked and hope for.

It is well with my soul!

PS: My days in the EMU.

The Village Tree

It can be noisy and annoying, for some, when children are playing.  Noisy sounds of children, chattering and playing, can be heard from far distances.  They did not seem to have enough time before darkness completely takes over daylight.  To them, it seems like the last day on earth.  Relieved from their daily routine, they are enjoying every bit of it.

Sketched Tree in the dark
Tree in the dark

There was a huge tree in our village.  Village folks referred to it as ‘the village tree’.  The tree is located in the center of our neighborhood.  It appeared to be a full-grown tree and must be of ages.  With its perfect location and long branches spreading out for all, it is home to the villagers throughout the day, especially early in the morning till late evening.

For any events in the village – ‘At least one members from each family are requested to meet at the ‘village tree’ for discussions or before any community work had been initiated’, notices was served.  Before the advent of Community Centers, few motion pictures, which could instill harmony amongst the community, were also shown in the shades of the tree using projector.

It is where different generations of the villagers met together.  Young and old came out of their home in the evening to sit in the shades.  They would talk about the day’s work, politics, past glories of the village, and many more general topics.  Not all parts of the world are exposed to modern culture.  They would, comfortably, sit in the elevated area in the roots spending their leisure time.

The tree had united all the villagers in the shade.  By spending time together, they become more united and get to know each other well.  Any threat or person trying to demean harmony can be easily sorted out through discussions.  Migrants and new faces joined them, which takes them further intrude in the realm of the villagers till they get fully settled.

Few times, I had enquired about who could have planted this particular tree.  However, nobody seems to know much about its history.  Almost everyone came up with different theory, which seems to be backed by their friends.  May be they made it all up, I guessed.   The most valid and acceptable theory could be that the former generations had planted the tree for generations to come.

Every year, when spring dawns, the tree grows new buds to replace those leaves shed in the previous months.  The bud of the tree is edible, which sometimes caused few snarling sounds among the villagers.  It is natural – when there is something to benefit freely, it caused a rift in human hearts.

However, we felt blessed to have such a tree in our village.  We thank God for His creations, which had become one of the most ‘happening zones’ in our village.  The tree is not worshipped instead of that, whenever we sat under the tree, we are left in awe of God’s care for human race.

One morning, the very sad news of ethnic conflict breaking out nearby came around.  The villagers run amok like a flock of bird scattering away at the sound of gunshot.  That day marked the end of an era.  No villagers ever came in groups under this tree anymore.  Peace had eluded the village ever since.

The village tree slowly gets deteriorated, which might be caused due to its loneliness.  Eventually, the tree died a natural death, someone reported.  The tree, which had once provided shelter to the villagers, was no more talked about.  When violence and hatred enter the world even an innocent tree had suffered deeply.  It is gone!

There would be no other thing – human or any creature, like the village tree, which could accommodate all the villagers – any kind of them whether good or bad, rich or poor.  Be an agent of change – when interacting with others, spread love and unity among the ‘global villagers’.

I Spent All My Time Alone: Desolation

While scanning through my old journals, I’ve found this piece – a kind of short poem.  It was written in those times, when I really feel desolated.  And, I know, I am not a good writer.

A decade went by, when wrote this small piece.  My joy and happiness are short-lived.  My health was a major problem and my pre-planned life did not seem to flow as I’d desired.  Few people have seen it.  And for them, it really looks annoying and depressing.

Bird in the field by herself
Bird in the park alone

For me, it’s a kind of prayer to God, my physical and spiritual barrenness being let out.  Here I cannot tell you all my problems but I’ve already told my God.  Some problems are solved or just withered away while some are still work in progress.

Remember, I was surrounded many good people.  Please don’t get it wrong.  The emptiness inside my heart, the pain of loneliness nobody knew.  Only let known to my God, that is what I am talking about.

If you’ve been through such times, you might feel it.  But for some people, as I said earlier, was a waste of time and simply depressing.  I am blessed to have a look back and feel a bit relief by His grace.  By the way, even in the midst of storm, we  never walk alone.

There are times when I really longed for God’s presence in my life.  Many times, I let it slipped away from me.  One thing or another snatched away my happiness.  Yet His faithfulness endures forever.

Now this is what I wrote.  Feel free to go through it.  Should you feel with me, it’ll be a good thing to let me know or remember me in your prayer.  God bless you!

I Spent All My Time Alone

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In desolation I spent  all my time,

Where is Your presence in my wilderness?

Yet my faith will not perish on the way.

It’s hard to even call on Your name,

How will I ever feel Your presence again?

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Yet my mouth will sing Your praise.

Through the sorrow and the pain,

My hope in You gives fragrance of life.

I will keep praising you forever.

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I cannot see the plans you had for me.

Is there a good thing you’ve planned?

Yet I will not lose my faith in You.

It’s really hard for me to pray,

Would your presence not go with me?

###

Would you not filled by barren soul?

Broken and deserted here I lay.

Yet where would I go besides You?

It’s really hard for me to pray,

From my sickness and sadness deliver me.

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Yet my mouth will sing Your praise

Through the sorrow and the pain

Yet my hope in You gives fragrance of life

I will keep praising you forever!

Due to my wrongdoings and unfulfilled dreams or promise, I assumed that God deserted me.  He never did.  It was me who deserted Him.  Even in my worst condition, He loved me!

Give me Rest!

At a very young age, we started working in the family paddy field.   We grow rice to meet our essential need for food grains.  It was not meant for commercial purpose.

For starters, rice is grown in a water-retentive soil, with a reliable source of water for irrigation, and a way to drain the water when it is time for harvesting.  Growing rice is the main source of food grains in the region.

Paddy Field in the slope of the hill
Paddy Field in the slope

From dawn to dusk, we spend our time preparing the field suited for planting rice.  I felt blessed to have learned, lived, and experienced the art of farming in the field.  It takes a lot of hard work to garner a good harvest at the end of the season.

First, it was making the cultivation bed or terrace ready, which needed hard work the most.  We used self-made Langkawn in ploughing the land.  Since we do not use machine, the work need to be done physically.  The process took huge toil on our physical as well as our mental strength.  Looking back at those time, it easily fits into our story time with my children.

In the muddy soil, we started our work very early in the morning.  Every stroke of our ‘wooden-handle spade’ made us nearer to the most awaited lunch time.  With no more energy left, I remember lying down in a pool of muddy water many times during the period.  However, I needed to get up again so that I can have a hearty meal and take rest in the shades.

We were filled with mud and dirty water.  However, when we washed in the clean water we become as fresh as new.  Let me tell you something here that it always reminded me of the cleaning of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.  For it is written:

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.1

There is something to do in my part; I have to get up from that mud-filled soil with the tired body.  So that I may get rest, very much-needed for my well-being.

The hope of getting rest for a while in the noontime keeps us going, although the hope of getting a good harvest seems like a distant dream, for now.  However, if there is no natural calamity for that particular year, a good harvest is assured at the end of the season.

Now, with the preparation of the cultivation and planting being done, it looks like a very promising return will be garnered at the end of the season.  Even the sight of it provided attractive scenery, with its clean and lustrous green look.

Let me conclude herewith what has been offered to us with open arms.

“Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”2

1 Isaiah 1:18b, 2 Matthew 11:28