Within a span of 6 months, I had the chance to attend a wedding and a funeral in a rural setting. Two occasions that seem the opposite of one another helped me understand the nuances and importance of such events in the life of a community.
There were certain similarities and differences between the two. Both instances saw a gathering of people (family, friends and family of families the church etc), sharing of food and fellowship, exchange of gifts and presents, besides a time of worship and word.
What was different between both was that, one looked to be a joyous and positive event, while the other a sorrowful and piteous one. One saw an addition to the family, while the other saw the loss of a beloved one. One brought a fullness, expanding the family circle, while the other left a void, shrinking the family. One extended the boundaries and bonds of relationship, while the other narrowed down the reach and extent of influence.
What is astonishing was a factor common to both – the amount of gossip, criticism, bias, judgement and analysis that was generated and articulated in each. Almost everyone, one or another, pointed out what was lacking or amiss in each event and circumstance. Not many were to say what had been done right!
Such exercise is a special feature and unique culture that is part of the social fabric of India, evident more in villages than elsewhere. People in rural areas are given to free speech, often commenting on others affairs, with no qualms whatsoever about articulating their opinions. It is almost as if they have a birthright to do so, a special nature of a citizen of India, more so its womenfolk. This is both a bane and a boon, often to be endured or tolerated, sometimes enjoyed!
Such action is really not a negative indulgence, but an action born of a sense of responsibility towards one another in the community. It is an inborn quality and inherent trait woven into the very fabric of small communities where everyone knows everyone. It is unavoidable and not something one can get rid off from people who move closely with one another. In the city, we hardly care beyond our own and even that is sometimes lacking. So, what is truly a societal process appears to be unwarranted and unnecessary interference!
Small communities, that too rural ones, exist and survive through a pattern of relationships and associations. These are upheld by habits of interchange and primary of these is speech or conversation. Often held while working together in the fields or drawing water from the common source, such talk could border on gossip or tattle. To refrain from talking or discussing about others is a mark of disinterest and detachment, something that will actually exclude and isolate you from the community.
It is true that often such talk could border on jealousy or malice or bitterness etc, but most often it is the thread that binds folks together. It even serves as a sort or mode of entertainment and enlivening activity in areas where there is nothing to do beyond work and sleep!
It is moreover an important form of communication in such towns and villages where people don’t live in clustered and cloistered as in the city. News of good and bad travel fast, covering distances and bridging gaps, a necessity where social media as well as internet does not exist or is patchy. It is the equivalent of the thandora or drum beat or the old time proclamation that existed in ancient times as the method of passing messages to all in the countryside. Also, such bonding is a need in village life where mutual dependence is a given and a must.
In the city, where things can get done without a community process, we do tend to live such isolated and individual lives, because we feel we don’t need each other. Each of us is bent on our own progress, most often at the cost of another. Many do not have any qualms or even a conscience that they are swindling another, often considering it their right to live off another. We live in the city, close to one another in space, but far from each other in reality. Even an death or disease doesn’t move us to reach out to others, but causes us only to draw the walls around us tighter. That is indeed the characteristic of urban areas and sometimes it is rightly so, since often survival and growth depend on such quiet consolidation and separate lives.
Communities thrive and flourish through communication, different though they are in city and diverse in villages.
I believe that churches and leaders should consider and not reject this aspect, but realise its redemptive potential. We need to tap into this skill and transform it into gospel proclamation instead of decrying it.
That’s what Jesus did with the woman at the well at Samaria.
Let’s flow suit and impact communities using ways and means relevant to them, speaking their own language in their own dialect of community talk!
Covid conditions have been quite stressful and strenuous for women, especially in the family, more than anyone else. The reason is, I believe, traditionally and by nature, women consider home their domain and their resting place. Men would prefer to unwind outside the home with their friends and cronies, but a woman’s nook of refuge is her home. Like a bird that seeks its nest to rest, a woman would make a beeline for her home, every time. That’s why, when buying or investing in a house, women seem to be finicky and demanding, insisting on a certain way since it is her corner in this wide world. Nothing rejuvenates or restores a woman more than an empty house and a time to de-stress!
Unfortunately, with covid confining the family to the home, women have found it difficult to find a place to decompress and loosen up. More than ever, women, and primarily homemakers have found their realm invaded and inundated by people as well as an unending list of chores and duties. They are lost as they find no place or space for them to recover and be restored. There is no time or occasion for peace and quietness, something which is the strength of a woman. Added to this is the way the family seems to be insensitive to her need for rest and a concern for or an understanding of what truly refreshes her.
Here are some tips for finding rest in covid:
1. Be regular in your day. It is my observation that many women, specifically homemakers, do not plan their day. They don’t take hold of their day, but meet it as it comes. Rather than laying hold of their day, they allow themselves to go with the flow. This is more so in this season of pandemic, causing them to feel like a stick tossed by the day. Chalk out your day and lay hold of it, so that you are not at its mercy!
2. Find your daily rhythm. Womenare most flexible and fluid, enabling them to be easily adaptable to any situation. However, during this season, with all the people at home and in constant demand, this works against them. Unless and until they set a routine they cannot combat fatigue. Make your day both flexible and rigid,which will bring order to your life.
3. Start your day with rest. Prayer and meditation is a key to rest, for the quietness you seek will be found in God’s presence. Nothing makes a woman feel refreshed as singing praises to God and doing homage to Him. By nature, women tend to be devoted and often take time to worship. Most men in the family do recognize this stellar nature of a woman and encourage their prayer time, for they recognize its role and importance. So, make time to rest in God as well as to pray for strength and grace for the day!
4. Plan your day. Women at home do not really schedule their home chores as much as women who hold a job. This is because they do not view their home duties the same way a woman does a job. Another reason is that homemakers don’t get paid and the chores they do is taken for granted. Though this attitude is good in itself, it does not give clarity to the work and so no planning gets done. Women, order your chores and plan even your meals for the week. This will help you prepare in advance and give you an edge over the day, even if disturbances arise. Moreover, your husband and kids would be more rolling and happy to help you if you don’t pester them often to run to the store because you forgot a necessary item or ingredient. Planning avoids clashes too!
5. Regulate your work and rest. A prime need for women is to mark out rest hours amidst the work. For instance, you can catch your breath and carve out a moment of peace after breakfast and before lunch work begins. Do the same in afternoon between lunch and teatime, as well as between tea and dinner. Go to bed on time so that you can rise early to have your quiet time before day begins. Don’t wait till the end of day to rest, but find pockets of time to rest!
6. Cordon off your time and space. A major default in women is that we don’t communicate with others. Once you have planned your day and ordered your time, make it known to your family. Teach them to respect it by making them understand how you need it to serve them better. Request help from your spouse to care for your kids during this time. The man who sees his wife is better for having such space will surely give it. Our problem is that we don’t admit our weakness and our need, but try to be superwomen!
7. Do something you really love. An important need for women is to develop a hobby or pastime and to do something beyond housework. Most women are lack and slack in this. They don’t evolve by learning a skill or even participating in a study process, but may spend time and effort in watching soaps and serials. Learn to do gardening or tailoring or crochet or knitting or beadwork etc. Learn driving, baking, even electrical work or earn a degree. Upgrade and encourage yourself in this season by doing something new!
8. Define yourself. Most women are clueless as to who they are and hence, allow others to delineate who they are. At the end of their life or during menopause or after children have moved on, they feel adrift, having lost themselves in the milieu and myriad of roles taken up in the course of life. Women, you are more than your roles (daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, cook, caregiver, daughter-in-law, etc). You are a human being with distinct gifts, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, personality and character. You have the ability to define yourself and not get caught up with who you are in each season of life. Understand this and keep your uniqueness secure, guarding it as treasure. Then, even when everyone in your life has passed on or moved on, you have your being intact to evolve to a new height!
9. Live in peace and tranquility. Rest and quietness must first be felt inward before it can be realized outward. Harboring resentment, bitterness, malice and so on, will harm you more than others, since it won’t allow you to rest even though you are doing it physically! Inward equanimity will go a long way in finding rest during the day. More than men, women need to let it go. Forgiveness and forbearance works much to ensure rest for we are emotional beings and when our feelings are in turmoil, we can wave goodbye to rest!
10. Reach out to make friends. Women need companions and thats why women are more invested in marriage than men. Communion and companionship is at the heart of a woman’s being, which makes her a team worker or team mate. So, reach out to cultivate friendship with others and do not isolate yourself. Communicating with a community of cronies does much for mental health. There is a sense of oneness in knowing others also have the same problems as well as strength in encouraging another. Sisterhood should be a way of life if we are to be able to maintain our sanity in this season!
Ladies, let us face this time of unprecedented happenings with zest and vivre, as we always do, by developing a new pattern and way of life. It is no use cribbing about what has been. Let us make do with what we have, thankful in the midst of it all, coming out with flying colors!
All through my school days I was a champion athlete, participating in various events and winning many laurels. I loved to run and instinctly developed the skills to be a good runner, more than being taught the technique to do so.
One of the important traits on the track to be a champion, especially in 100m, is to fix your eye on the end and never get distracted from it. Runners are taught to pick a point/spot on the rope once lane position has been assigned and take off for it at full speed, exerting to the best, once the gun goes off. Eyes should only be on your track lane to avoid cutting tracks and then on the spot. You have to be blind and deaf to all else, including the reaction of spectators. If your attention wavered even for a second, your speed would reduce and cost you the trophy. The goal and reaching it is the only focus you could allow yourself to have, nothing more and nothing less.
I think this training has naturally spilled over into my life, shaping my personality and work culture! I have always been focused and intent on achieving the target, reaching the point, completing the task and was either ignorant or blind to all else. I didn’t mind the price I paid, the pain I endured, the straining of physical health and the emotional upheavals. It was to be done, it had to be done, irrespective of the cost. I would never go beyond the lines and boundaries, but within the framework would often run roughshod over many things and often, people.
Though such concentration and dedication to reach the goal is to be applauded in a runner, it cannot be fully applied to all of life. Such an outlook can make you insensitive and impervious to all other aspects of people and nuances of living. Even in a job, this will make you a tyrant, autocrat or dictator, one to be feared rather than followed. In the long run, you will develop such an one-dimensional and single color perspective, becoming unaware and unappreciative of the tapestry of life, that makes it monotonous and hence, boring to you as well as to those around you!
Life is not all about winning or reaching or touching the endpoint. Nor is it about forging ahead and forgetting everything else in your bid to achieve or gain a goal. Life is not a sprint that begins and ends in seconds or minutes or even hours, but a passage of time. Life is usually a long distance run, a marathon, or better still, an odyssey.
Life is a trek to be enjoyed, rather than a series of achievement hops. Life is not a string of frog jumps from one goal to another, but a travel that meanders through a myriad of land forms often hoarding and hiding different life forms. Life is an expedition of discovery and exploration, an adventure to be tasted and savored.
Life is all about growing, evolving and transforming into greater and higher dimensions of humanity. Every experience, every sight, every situation, every encounter, every instance plays a role in this shaping and forming of us. Whether we use them positively or negatively, they do impact us daily, consciously, unconsciously and subconsciously.
To all those who are like me, I say, slow down, take stock, look around and enjoy the journey on your way to reaching your goal.
The journey is as much a part of life as is reaching or achieving the target. Being sensitive to and savoring the travel will create joy in the small things and even tiny packets of time. Such joy in the ride will compensate and make it all worth while even when you don’t reach the goal and not allow you be stuck in the doldrums. Not every operation a doctor performs, nor every work a person complete, not every race run ends in a success or a win, inspite of your best efforts. There is no guarantee in life that we would complete or achieve all the time even though we did put in all we had every time.
It is then that we realize the effort and passage itself are reward enough, especially when you done all you can. It is not just about the beginning and the end, but the in-between too!
Let’s understand that peregrination is as important as the end point and take pleasure in everything and everyone we experience and encounter, using them all to learn and mature as we progress through time.
I did not win every race I ran, but I was happy to run, to compete and to complete the race.
That, my friend, is the secret of all of life!
That, my friend is the essence of living!
The journey is as essential and as gratifying as the goal!
*Pics courtesy: Unsplash.com, shutterstock and google images
In the television series The Crown there is a heartbreaking moment when the recently widowed Queen Mother of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth remarks at being sidelined when she actually needs to be active in order to help her cope up with her loss. Her lament is a telling reflection of the many who go through the throes and woes of retirement.
Psychology Today has reported in 2009 that an aging brain is a creative brain, so much so it was suggested that instead of retiring people at age 65, we should be transitioning them into more creative jobs. Research also shows that the most valuable patent applications are more likely to come from inventors typically over age 55 and the age of Nobel winners are getting higher every year. Another study shows that inventors don’t actually peak until their late 40s and become more productive over the last half of their careers.
WHO defines Ageism as referring to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age. Ageism is everywhere: from institutions and relationships to ourselves. Ageism affects everyone, intersecting and exacerbating other forms of disadvantage such as those related to sex, race and disability.
Ageism can change how we view ourselves, erode solidarity between generations, devalue or limit our ability to benefit from what people can contribute, impact our health, longevity and well-being and have far-reaching economic effects and consequences. Ageism is real and a degrading social malady that affects retirees and those above 60 years, more than any other section of society.
Overlooking the plight of retirees is real and minimizing or neglecting their role in society past their superannuation not addressed at all. The Bible illustrates the role played by elders, insisting upon the value of older people in imparting guidance and counsel. God’s word designating them as sages and elders, insists upon their ability to create stability and provide clear solutions to issues. Nations, peoples, cultures, societies, families all flounder and fail when they ignore the experience and wisdom of those who are in the later stages of life.
A case in point is the story of King Rehoboam, who inherited a thriving and prosperous kingdom, the legacy of his father, the great King, Solomon the Wise. When an emergency petition was placed before him by a national delegation immediately after his coronation, he chose to listen to the unwise input of his cronies rather than giving ear to the diplomatic advice of the experienced elders of the land. Due to this, 80% of his people elected to follow a new ruler, another kingdom was formed and his territory was reduced to the remaining 20%. All the glory and wealth he inherited was handed over to another because of his unwillingness to honor age and promote their working.
Every culture and nation has stories and legends that describe and point out the importance of those who are old in the fabric of society. It is sad that the world of today ignores and sets aside those above 60 years. In the time of life when they are best equipped to impact, they are classified as seniors and therefore, redundant. At an age when they have the emotional and mental resources as well as the time to serve the best, they are pushed to the curb, to wistfully stand watch. Most of them, like unused grain that rots away, endure their exile and fade away into oblivion, leaving behind a society that has no idea of its loss.
A wonderful remedy to this problem is showcased in the movie The Intern. It follows the impact created by a retiree who is part of a group of seniors recruited to work as interns by a growing online fashion firm as part of their corporate social responsibility. The employees of the company, all young and under the retirement age, look with amusement at these interns, wondering what these oldies would be able to contribute, especially since most them aren’t tech savvy.
The Founder and CEO of the company, a woman in her twenties, at first considers the one assigned to her as a liability, but slowly begins to see his worth as he uses his wisdom, experience and equanimity of temper to constantly help her in different ways. He becomes a trusted friend and confidant, able to share in her work and aid her in her deepest concerns, guiding her with his sagacity when she is at a crucial crossroads in her life.
In countries such as in India where employment opportunities for the young must take precedence over the need of seniors, alternate tasks such as financial training, personal one-on-one counselling, marital dispute resolution, simple home care etc can be envisioned by firms as roles for retirees.
How wonderful it would be to see such partnerships develop in real and not just in reel life!
When I hear about people being in grave illness, especially cancer or other sicknesses for which there seem to be no cure, I feel helpless and hapless.
When I receive requests to pray for people who are wasting away with specific maladies, I often feel clueless and powerless, especially when there seems to be no change.
I wonder, what is the use of praying when you know there is no remedy for such dire diseases. I am puzzled by what is accomplished when I am called to intercede and petition for any one as it is obvious there is no cure yet for such ailment nor too much history of healing, compared to the numbers affected!
I wonder why I should pray and what is the use of my intercession!
When I faced a similar situation with a family member being hospitalized for a sickness, I was swamped with a feeling of despair and inadequacy to deal with it. In a state of numbness, I informed my family members and then sat back overwhelmed by the many thoughts of changes that would be needed in the event of such a sickness. I couldn’t pray, couldn’t comprehend what to pray for, why I should do so and how to go about doing it.
That’s when my dad, a true man of God and faith, wrote to me, first encouraging me by reminding me of a past incident when God healed his mother, my paternal grandmother, in answer to prayer. Then he sent me a quotation from Job 33 and therein I found my comfort and the answer to all my questions.
I read there that ‘God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds, with ceaseless aching in their bones. They lose their appetite for even the most delicious food. Their flesh wastes away, and their bones stick out. They are at death’s door; the angels of death wait for them.‘ According this passage, God does this in order to ‘rescue them from the grave so they may enjoy the light of life.’ This about people who are going through the dealings of God.
What about those of us who are observers and bystanders, as well as loved ones and family members? What are we to do? Stand shocked or throw words of judgment and criticism against them, pointing our fingers at their misdemeanor? Not at all! Then what can we do? The answer to this is given in the same chapter.
Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them – let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth – then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’
I see that all we can do is to stand in the gap and intercede for the person who is suffering. We have to be gracious towards the one who is in trouble and be an angel or a messenger of mercy to present their cause before God. We need to uphold the ransom paid for them on the cross by His Son Jesus and ask God to spare them. We need to be advocates of their case before God and petition for their restoration.
What is the effect of such a stance on the one who is suffering? The ones going through the dealing of the Lord are given special ability to pray in the midst of their trouble and find favor with God. They are given grace to ask for pardon and they will also find mercy in His sight. They will turn back and turn towards God, like the sunflower faces the sun! They will then turn witnesses of His benevolence and beneficence, rather be remain rebels of it! That is why intercession is important, because it enables them to turn to their Maker.
The impact of intercession and petition on behalf of a delinquent moves the already compassionate heart of God, making it possible for Him to extend His mercy rather than judgment. God is both the God of justice and God of mercy, keeping both these parts of His nature in perfect balance. Yet, according to James 2:13, mercy always triumphs over judgment, a fact illustrated and stated by Portia in the Merchant of Venice.
We see this same sentiment echoed by Paul in his second epistle to the Corinthians when he writes that the prayer of many delivered his team and team from
God’s heart towards us is the heart of a Father and a mother, seeking to exhibit mercy rather than execute judgement, for He loves us dearly. Rare is the parent who, even in the height of anger, will not yield to persuasion by someone else who will petition on behalf of the erring child they are forced to discipline. A parent yearns over their child even when they have to punish and nothing makes them stay their hand as a grandparent, uncle, aunt, brother, sister or friend pleading on behalf of their own guilty child. They love the one who steps into the gap to rest the hand of harsh retribution.
So, also God, as the eternal lover of His creation, seeks for someone to stand up in defense of the one who is facing the rod of correction that His majestic justice requires of Him. When such a messenger is found or is present, God will gladly stay His hand of justice in favor of extending His Hand of mercy. If, in addition a ransom is also found, God gladly restores and rejoices in life rather than in execution. God cannot hold back His judgements, but He can be persuaded to deal favorably when an advocate of mercy is found.
That is why God loves intercessors and prayer warriors who stand in the gap and plead for His mercy on His humanity rather than those who demand reteibution.
God seeks to be merciful more than being harsh or judgemental. His Name that was proclaimed before Moses is “The Lord , the Lord , the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”Exo 34:6-7. When His very name and nature are compassion, how can He not respond to interceding petitions and prayers!
To my question of why intercession and of what use it is when all seems hopeless, I found that intercession and prayer birth repentance and rejuvenation in the one who is suffering and makes way for God to be merciful and restoring towards His people rather than judgmental.
The call is to be intercessors rather than accusers.
A few years ago I had to step back from active work because for one, the Lord impressed upon me to be at rest and to sit at His feet; two, my youngest reached school finals and I needed to be at home; and three, I found myself getting exhausted easily and realized I was worn out by multitasking, balancing home, work and ministry. Knowing I might become sick , I gave in my notice and stepped back into the home, even though I hadn’t yet reached superannuation.
There is a general opinion that it is a good thing to be able to retire early, but let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to to do so, even though I knew I nWhen we reach the season that we have bracketed as time to sit back and enjoy, we feel cheated or depressed if we don\’t attain our set goal. In our hurry to finish and wait for retirement to rest, we miss out or trample over the small things of daily life. When the time comeeded it. I had been running at such speed and working so hard that it took me a year to decelerate, unwind, slow down, quieten, pull back and come to rest. I felt guilty for not working and would often get triggered to do something, again and again. Thankfully I had a few faithful people who held me to my post and saw to it that did the Lord’s bidding, to rest.
Over a period of time I learnt to rest, accept it as God’s gift, relish it and even begin to enjoy the season. I relaxed totally, eating and sleeping well, letting my body get its make over and rejuvenation, using the time to catch up on my reading, deal with submerged hurts, gain emotional freedom and renew my spiritual insight.
I began to grasp that I was being recharged and refurbished for a new season of life. At a time when people of my age were getting ready to wind down, slow down, take it easy, I found myself ready and restored for a new lease of life. I began planning and doing a host of things, setting in motion what I would like to accomplish this phase of my life, before my call home, whenever that is. As I began to evaluate what would be the things my strength and energy would allow me to do, choose wisely what I can do and sustain for next 20 years, I noted something.
Even though we are the people of God and call ourselves His disciples who follow Him and live by the precepts of His Word, we have inadvertently adopted the world’s job profile of working till the 60s and then relaxing in what we call our retirement period. We have calibrated ourselves to the mode of such working till 60 and then doing nothing concrete after that age. We have programmed ourselves to concentrate on building up a portfolio of life, health, finances, family, travel etc to live a comfortable ‘retired life’ after working very hard. We have made and set our horizon which we strive to reach and then after attaining it, wander around lost in a mist of uncertainty, not knowing what to do and end up wasting our days.
The years beyond 60 are considered old age when, because we have decided it is time to sit back and lead a sedentary life, we become a burden to ourselves and our families. We seem to lose sight of life itself and view it as a burden, dragging ourselves along till our death. We fear the age beyond 60 and think either too little of it or too much of it. We are so terrified of it that we run ourselves ragged trying to provide for those years. We have set a false target, much before the time allotted, and therefore, end up becoming inflexible and insipid.
In sticking to such a schedule, we have committed the major mistake of trying to run a race that was meant to last 80 years in less time. We try to complete by 60 what was meant to be stretched over a lifetime of 80 years. The result of such an attitude and the aspiration to achieve in our 60s what we can get only at 80, is sad weariness and shortened life span. We end up with health issues such as diabetes, arthritis, partial blindness, hypertension, loss of hearing, and what not. The burden of trying to accomplish in a short time what must be stretched over a long period is so taxing that we tend to miss out on life and its nuances. In our pursuit of an unrealistic focus, we miss out on the process of life itself as well as it’s myriad designs.
When we reach the season that we have bracketed as time to sit back and enjoy, we feel cheated or depressed if we don’t attain our set goal. In our hurry to finish and wait for retirement to rest, we miss out or trample over the small things of daily life. When the time comes to enjoy as planned, we may be too sick to relish what we have worked for. We may end up losing all of life, not just our health, and maybe even relationships and people, because we have been too focused on the endgame rather than relishing every day. We are supposed to sustain our stamina and strength until the end, but lose it out in a bid to finish early. When we reach our end season, we may find ourselves not only alone and lonely, but geriatric and bereaving.
God has neither planned nor envisioned for us such morbid disillusionment and abandonment as our end time. His plan is for us to be well-formed and well-informed individuals, enjoying abundant and best of life just before our departure from earth or when we meet Him. The key to such a life is to realize and recognize that He has ordained and designed for us a rhythm of living, a perfect timeline, a mode of operation that will help us appropriate the abundant life He has promised and kept in store for us.
According to Moses, the architect of Israel’s freedom and nationhood, 70 or 80 years have been ordained for us to live, according to our strength. If this is the length of our days, then we need to conserve our energy until then and not exhaust it 20 years before the appointed time. We need to consider living well until the end of our days, until the last ounce of our strength has gone and we step into the grave. We need to pace and space ourselves so that we can live life to the fullest and accomplish what we have until that day of our death or the day Jesus returns. For He has appointed for us seasons and according our days so shall be your strength (Deut 33:28).
Caleb, the spy who along with Joshua refused to fear the giants in the land, possessed a different spirit. He urged the others to press forward into the land and conquer it because of God. Unfortunately, his fellow spies who brought a contrary reportcaused a setback and he ended up having to wander in the desert for 40 years along with the community. He had to see a delay in his dreams and the promises he had received, not because of his mistake but that of others. Yet when he finally enters the promised land, he still has the same drive and zeal to inherit what he had taken for his own, keeping intact the spirit of enterprising faith. We see him asking, no demanding, of Joshua that he be given the hill country of Hebron where there are giants. Forty years have passed but Caleb declares that he still has the same strength as he had that day and same fervor to possess his inheritance (Josh 14:10-12).
That the years beyond sixty are meant to the best and most fruitful time of life may be moot point, but we have never given thought to it nor realized it nor been taught as such. What is to be the most blessed and best season of our life in which we would be at full self-actualization, we have bracketed as worst time. By then we have gone through life, survived it, learnt from what it throws across our way, been totally immersed in it, saturated with its experiences, have distilled its essence and developed rich content. We are in the right place and position, with time to spare, to be able to train others, offer advice and possess the right language to communicate in the best way possible to those who are behind us in age, because of the passage of our years.
People give very high value to old wine and vintage wine that has been preserved for years is highly priced, with older the wine greater its worth. How is it then human life which by default has greatest value, is suddenly devalued and sidelined with the increase of years? When antiques, things that have existed for years, are estimated highly, why is it that people are counted less valuable with the passage of time? Why is it that highest form of life, humans are rejected as useless and not relevant? It is because we haven’t realized and accepted that old age is the best and most noteworthy season of all times!
Life is not a sprint but a marathon and so strength as well as stamina is needed if we are to complete all our lifework.
We need to sustain our energy and be fruitful till the last, and not end our life in weakness and defeat.
If we are to peak in the last season of our lives, we need to do something very important: We must not set our horizons of returns and rewards at the 60s but at 70s and 80s. We need to continue to influence, impact and even innovate beyond the age of 60.
Reassess your goals and priorities which may have revolved around your kids, but don’t give up as being useless or clueless.
We surely do need to take a breather at 60 and a time to realign to a new way of life because of diminishing physical strength, but let’s not write ourselves off.
Reach back to your dreams which you may have laid down because of your duties and restore them to the forefront of your consciousness and mind.
Renew your hold on life, reinforce your zest for living and restore yourself to live again, afresh all the years that Heaven has blessed you with beyond 60!
The age of 60 maybe the end for your job, but 80 or the end of your days is for your lifework!
To be fruitful and productive you need a lifetime, not just 60 years!
Don’t look for returns and rewards in your 60s and don’t plan for 60s. Plan and live for all the years God gives you life!
Have a new life, make a new beginning, learn a new skill, fulfil your dreams, pick up a hobby, do something you have never done before!
Be a Caleb with another spirit and conquer in ‘old’ age!
War and Peace authored by Leo Tolstoy is a chronicle of life as lived alternately between times of war and times of peace. According to critics, War and Peace isn’t just a great novel, but a guide to living. What Tolstoy offers is not so much a set of answers to life’s every situation as an attitude toward living. Tolstoy packs in more human experience than any other work of fiction had ever attempted as he moves seamlessly back and forth between ballrooms and battlefields, marriages and massacres, private lives and public spectacles. The world, Tolstoy shows us in his greatest novel, is a mysterious place where things aren’t always what they seem to be, with today’s tragedy often paving the way for tomorrow’s triumph.
War and peace are two sides of a coin, the coin of life and living, a coin we all indulge in unconsciously. No farmer has been able to enjoy the fruits of his labor or sit under his tree to enjoy his leisure without first waging a war for it. He battles the elements of the earth, the soil, the weather, the predators etc, before being able to gather in a harvest. No mother brings forth life without first struggling through the process of birth before she is able to gaze with calm devotion at her baby. No builder or engineer has ever been able to raise an edifice or build tracks and roads without first grappling with digging holes, unearthing vegetation or other barriers to progress. No student has ever able to rise to the heights of education and learning unless and until he or she has struggled to stay away from sleep or carousing or even laziness. No man can ever hope to become an entrepreneur or businessman before combating discouragement, lack of resources or even loss of vitality. No doctor has ever been able to bring the peace of healing and unless and until he has worked against the ravages of disease and depression. There is no gain without at least a modicum of pain in tussle and conflict.
A classic case exists in the Bible of the twin tools of war and work going hand in hand and being used to achieve a target. Nehemiah, the statesman with sanctions from the Persian King Artaxerxes I to rebuild the broken down walls of Jerusalem, faced stiff opposition from those who couldn’t bear to see the nation rise again. The feud was so bitter and the work so threatened, that he had to command his people to work with one hand and war with the other. He gave instructions to his people to be battle-ready so that in the event of an attack, they would not lose a moment or effort in protecting the work being done. The progress and establishment of the wall depended on their ability to combine work and war. Alternating between war and peace, Nehemiah successfully rebuilt and dedicated the wall making the city safe and a name again.
Warfare then, is not just nation states bashing one another up, but a striving to achieve in all walks and parts of life in some form or another. The real wisdom and acumen lies in being able to know who to war, when to war, how to war and which is the true battleground.
Apostle Paul is very vehement in reiterating that we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. He instructs the church to don on the armor so as to be able to stand against the Devil’s tricks and hold the ground gained by Christ.
He specifically explains that the world or society out there is unprincipled and a case of dog-eat-dog! The world doesn’t fight fair, but, we aren’t supposed to live or fight our battles like that. As the people of God, the tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but for demolishing the entire massively corrupt culture. We are to use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. And that is the crux of the matter – our war and fight is to set the captives free!
War and peace are, therefore, Siamese Twins that are part and parcel of the process of accomplishing anything. You cannot hope to achieve a target unless you are ruthless to everything that would hinder the forward movement of the task. You may not call it a war or battle, but nevertheless, focusing on a goal involves being radical against all that would harm or delay it.
However, we need to be really persuaded and convinced that the real place of battle and the true arena where we war is on our knees and in our prayer closets. We often forget that what is achieved on our knees is what will be set in motion and in reality in the world. What is conceived in the prayer womb is what will be be birthed in the outer realm of the visible world. If your prayer room doesn’t become your war room, then we become walking tombs and white-washed sepulchres. We who are meant to spread the sweet aroma of Christ and life in the world, will unconsciously and unwittingly spread the stench of death in a society already stinking of selfishness, self-centeredness and sadness. The saying ‘More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams’ holds true at all times!
Remember that the greatest Man of Peace, Jesus Christ, was also the One Who was first a man of prayer before He was a man of action. The greatest battles He fought were in secret, in those hidden years of silence of which time it is said ‘During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.’ Through the book of Acts we see that the Apostles automatic and instinctive reaction to opposition, opportunity and open doors was prayer. The church began in prayer and was sustained by prayer all through its history.
Can we at any time then not consider prayer as the mode of war in order that peace may prevail and His will be done and His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven!
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Emperor Samudragupta (335-380 AD), the second ruler of the Gupta Dynasty, is known as the one who ushered in the Golden Age in India. Son of Chandragupta I, he was a benevolent ruler, great warrior and patron of arts.Perhaps the greatest king of the Gupta dynasty, his empire extended from, the Himalayas in the north to the river Narmada in the south and from the Brahmaputra River in the east to the Yamuna River in the west. His outstanding achievement was the political unification of most of India or Aryavarta into a formidable power, after which he assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja (The King of the Kings) by performing the Ashwamedha Yaga.
Samudragupta came into rulership at a time when India was fragmented into small states and kingdoms, which were constantly at loggerheads with one another. Samudragupta’s first task on being crowned was to wage war with each of these states and bring them under his suzerainty. An outstanding warrior with a benevolent heart, he showed great nobility towards all the kings he defeated, giving various tribal states autonomy under his protection. He forged great unity and peace through his able leadership and warfare. He brought peace and prosperity through war!
In Samudragupta’s kingdom, art and culture, music, and poetry flourished in the last fourteen years of his reign, during the season of peace he had forged through his season of war. He introduced a monetary system, minting seven different types of coins that exhibited fine quality of technical and sculptural finesse. His court was full of Poets and Scholars and he had a keen interest in music. and was probably an accomplished Lyrist (a musical instrument). His double tactics paved the way for the prosperous reign of his son, Chandragupta Vikramadiyta (380-413A.D.), earning it the title ‘the golden age of the Guptas’. To ensure that the next generation lives in harmony and peace is the prerogative, goal, aspiration and fight of the previous generation!
War & Peace are thus two sides of a coin, the coin of life & living, a coin we all indulge in unconsciously. No farmer has been able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, or sit under his tree to enjoy his leisure without first waging a war for it. He battles the elements of the earth, soil, weather, predators etc, before being able to gather in a harvest. No mother brings forth life, without first struggling through the process of birth, before she is able to gaze with calm devotion at her baby. No builder or engineer has ever been able to raise an edifice, or build tracks and roads without first grappling with digging holes, unearthing vegetation or other barriers to progress. No student has ever been able to rise to the heights of education and learning, unless and until he or she has struggled to stay away from sleep or carousing or even laziness. No man can ever hope to become an entrepreneur or businessman before combating discouragement, lack of resources or even loss of vitality. No doctor has ever been able to bring the peace of healing, unless and until he has worked against the ravages of disease and depression. There is no gain without at least a modicum of pain through tussle and conflict.
Warfare then, is not just nation states bashing one another up, but a striving to achieve, in all walks and parts of life in some form or another. The real wisdom and acumen rests in the ability to know when to do what – when to war and when to rest in peace. A look back at history will show us people who have lost, by relaxing when they should have been working; by being complacent when they should have been watchful; by sleeping when they should have been awake; and by thinking of peace when it was time to war. David, the beloved King of Israel, fell into adultery because he was loitering on his terrace while his troops battled earnestly to capture an enemy stronghold. Great statesmen and women, such as Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and others knew just when to take the sword and when to extend the olive branch.
War and peace are, therefore, Siamese Twins that are part and parcel of the process of accomplishing anything. You cannot hope to achieve a target unless you are ruthless to everything that would hinder the forward movement of the task. You may not call it a war or battle, but nevertheless, focusing on a goal involves being radical against all that would harm or delay it.
Remember that the greatest Man of Peace, Jesus Christ, was also the One Who did not hesitate to wield the whip to overturn and clean the courts of the house of God, saving it from those who would contaminate it with corruption and greed! He vehemently opposed oppression and unrighteousness, never having any qualms in attacking and destroying the stand of those who made it their right to subject in the name of God. He Who gave His life a sacrifice to save all of humanity warred against all powers of destruction
The cross is the greatest sign of defense against darkness as well as the greatest banner of peace on earth and goodwill to all men!
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Hitherto has the Lord helped us,
The ever present reminder in my troubles,
A constant refrain that rings in my ear,
A stable anchor amidst the raging waves
That rock my boat with many a tear.
Hitherto has the Lord been our guide,
Helping us traverse the rocky divide,
A restful shade in a barren hillside,
A wellspring of water in a desert site,
He’s the cool cloud under which I stride.
Hitherto has the Lord led us through a spar,
Safe and secure inspite of many a scar,
A shield in battle when the enemy rages from near or far,
A tower of defense when we tire in despair,
He is the banner under which I fight life’s war.
Hitherto has Lord been our beacon of might,
Shining on our path as lamp and light,
A sun by day and a moon by night,
A beam of rare hope that keeps me alive,
He is the star under which I live with true insight.
Ebenezer God is still on the throne,
Everything is well on this earth we call home,
None can stop all that He has decided or planned,
Nor prevent anything when He holds command,
Time is under the control and rule of His hand.