WHY INTERCESSION AND PRAYER!

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.

What will we choose to do?

*It would help you to read my previous post on DOES GOD SPEAK https://sabinatagoreimmanuel.com/2020/12/30/does-god-speak/

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and google images.

OVERCOMING RETIREMENT BLUES & FIELDING OLD AGE WOES!

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!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

EGGING ON

https://youtu.be/pa4dyeu9Cdk

Morning dawns
Evening falls
Sun shines
Moon beams
Flowers bloom
Fruits ripen
Grass grows
Trees sway
Wind blows
Waves beat
Births happen
Deaths occur.

Pandemic or not,
Life has to gone on.

For better or worse
For good or bad
In sickness or in health
In poverty or in riches
With love or hate
With goodness or meanness
We are all in this together.

Stand fast,
For this too shall pass away!

Let’s go on
Keeping faith till the last!

*Friday Fictioneers is a talented group of enthusiasts penning down a story, a poem, prose, etc., expressing their heart about a photo prompt © Todd Foltz

WAR AND PEACE

https://youtu.be/pVfkXC79nMQ

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!

*A video blog of this content is available

To read more on prayer, read this book on prayer available on Amazon, both in written and audio form.

*Pics are courtesy of shutterstock
*Please note that no part of this writing, content or video, may be used in any form without permission of the author and writer!

WARRING PEACE

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!

*Pics courtesy Canstock and Shutterstock

This video contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License.

No part of this video and the writing can be copied, used or uploaded without prior & specific permission of the writer and author of this production

HITHERTO

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.

SABINA TAGORE IMMANUEL
*Thanks to Matteo Vistocco for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/CYN6x1FyPWs

WHEN LIFE SEEMS UNFAIR – the farsightedness of God and the nearsightedness of man

As I read the story of the birth of Jesus and of John the Baptist in Matthew chapter 2 and Luke chapter 2 in the Bible, I am struck by one point, something common in both. Did both sets of parents ever wonder why their lot in life was hard, even though they were righteous people? I wonder if Zechariah’s family and Joseph’s family ever questioned why their life was the way it was – one couple had to be childless for so many years and other couple had to be so p tooor that they could afford only the minimal necessities of life?

God had a plan for both couples and had chosen them to carry out His plan, even though they were unaware of it! Nothing happens without a purpose for those who love Him and nothing is beyond His sovereignty and purview for them. When one is committed to Him, one can be sure that nothing happens, the best or the worst, by chance or without purpose in one’s life.

John the Baptist had to be born before Jesus and until that time Zechariah and Elizabeth had to be barren even though they were righteous and of right standing before God. They wouldn’t have understood the why of it until the right time. I wonder how many times they would have been asked why has God punished you or not answered your prayer. I wonder how many times they themselves would have asked why have we not been blessed and if they doubted the efficacy of their being righteous.
Life was unfair to them and God would seem to be unseeing. Yet they didn’t lose their faith in God nor trade in their righteousness for haphazard living. They held their course and in due time understood the honor for which they had been singled out – to be the parents of a unique child born in urgent times of history and transition.

The same could be said of Joseph and Mary, for they bore the burden of poverty and need. They seemed to be content with their lot and Jesus was born to them as the lowly son of a carpenter. He couldn’t have been born any other way except poor and be loaded with maximum number of disadvantages. It was only then could He identify Himself with all things become so for all men. If His birth and social strata in life would have been otherwise, He would have been at a disadvantage. Since He had this call to be a sacrifice for many, His parents also had to pay the price for it even when they didn’t know it or understand they were God’s choice to be the parents of the Son of God! It is however clear that they did not crib about it nor cease from following God and being righteous.

We often don’t understand or accept our lot in life, because we don’t see our lives in the context of God’s plan for all of humanity. We don’t comprehend the background of the stage in which the drama of our life is being played out. We don’t see the arena in which we live our lives nor do we realize the chain of things in which our lives play their part.

So, we either blame God or become lackadaisical about following Him. We constantly strive to better our lot without understanding His purposes for us in the context of His plans for the whole world. We are worried only about us and our plans and are consumed about upward mobility in society.

We lack the desire to apprehend and understand the big picture. We refuse to acknowledge that we are part of a bigger plan and the importance of the role we play in it as well as our contribution in it. By and large, we live and want to live selfish, individual lives that’s fashioned by minimalistic goals mostly concert tested and concerned about what we eat, what we dress, what we buy, where we live etc. We don’t acknowledge God in our lives and His plans for the world as a whole.

Even when we belong to Him we are more concerned with how to live in the kingdom of this world rather than living with the acceptance that His Kingdom, whose citizens we are, is already here. We shut our eyes and mind to the fact that this world is passing away while eternity is at our doorstep. We are like chickens rooting the soil for juicy worms rather than eagles that lifts its eyes to the heights, unaware the storm is on us.

Question is do I/you have the correct apprehension and clarity of sight. Are we short-sighted and nearsighted or long-sighted and farsighted? Are we being hampered and tempered by faulty and erroneous nearsightedness or enhanced and enlarged by farsightedness?
Whether we like it or not, assess it or not, our lives are the creation of God and our beings exist within the context of His purposes. Things happen to us as per and according to His will and shutting our eyes to it will only cause us to be like the ostrich in the desert that sticks its head in the sands hoping things will go away or change.

On the other hand, if we just accept and acknowledge God and His purposes, we will see clearly to understand that all things work together for our good within the progress of His plans and purposes on earth. We will not be tripped up in our faith nor lose our righteousness, for we will live with foresight. Indeed we will have the right combination to live as people of this era and as people with eternal destinies, as people who possess perfect 20/20 vision!

*Thanks to Elena Taranenko for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/hCUA4xtxVTA

Walking the Balance Beam

Balance is the word in vogue today – no matter who you are, what you do, where you live, which culture you are in, when you work, whether you are man or woman, single or married, studying or working etc. We live in a world of multiple responsibilities, tasks, opportunities and options. We want to stay, we want to work, we want to play, we want to raise a family, we want to have a career, we want to earn well, we want to accumulate assets, we want to save and we also want to spend. The biggest question is not just, how do I balance the budget (which, by the way, is a big task in itself!), but HOW DO I BALANCE LIFE per se!

Within this world, we need to live life to the fullest, not just exist. Life, in its most stable form, is full of day-to-day duties and movements with myriad facets and forms. Add to this, the changes that occur (expected and unexpected), relationships that add colour (black, white and all ones in between!), emotions that ride high or low, expectations that wax or wane and dreams that tantalize with their fulfillment or their denial. What you have is a full cup.

Now top up this full cup with the search for reality, identity, significance, worldview and a framework that interprets it all to make sense. It’s more than enough to throw a person!

So what I do with what I have been given? How do I manage the constraints that I am forced to live in? Is there a way to enjoy life? Without tearing myself apart? Or losing the essence of who I am?

Life is a circus in which I have to do tightrope or high wire act. Life is a gymnastics arena in which I have to tackle the narrow beam. How do I develop the expertise to walk to the end of it successfully?

The answer is: Learn the art and science of the balancing act.

Years ago I watched a videotape of Wayne Codeiro’s Leading on Empty: Refilling Your Tank and Renewing Your Passion. Wayne Cordeiro is the founding pastor of New Hope Oahu, one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation. Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, New Hope Oahu is known for redeeming the arts and technology for the Kingdom of God.

In it he talks of a time when he was running on empty, seriously depleted of energy, drive and passion. He talks of how he learnt the art of balancing his roles as head of his home and head of his church, finding the balance between being a father/husband and being a pastor, and making time for home and ministry.

His normal stance was to stand at the center point or midpoint between his responsibilities and hold the balance. At normal times, this position would hold and he could juggle his responsibility well. However, life is not static and so he would often be confronted with challenges and pressures such that he was hard pressed to hold this balance.

His solution for such times was: Move the fulcrum closer to the pressure point! What does this mean? It means that, during times of pressure, identify the point of pressure and gravitate towards it. That is, identify the area of extra stress and give your attention to address it. For example, if the family is going through extra burden, such as sickness at home or teenage angst, spend more time or energy there until it is resolved. Then slip back to your normal midpoint position. When some other area needs extra care, provide it and then assume your original position. Instead of 50-50 attention make it 80-20 until problem is smoothened out. This is the principle of moments in physics applied to real-life situations.

You can walk the narrow beam in life by simply strategically shifting your fulcrum. This may seem an inconvenient way to live, but it actually strengthens you. Life is no longer static or boring, but filled with kaleidoscopic colors and moves. It becomes a graceful dance of life that we often see and envy in performers.

A side benefit is that you no longer resist change nor do you prevent it. You no longer fear but welcome it. You learn that change is the spice of life and you relish it now. You are no longer jaded but enjoy the nuances of your life. Life is no longer a placid pond, but transforms into an adventure down a river of rapids.

In life you need to walk the high wire over a chasm to reach the other side. Learn the balancing act to live life to the fullest!

* Wayne Cordeiro’s video on Dead Leader Running link https://youtu.be/ScxvBqdNnf4

A GOOD LIFE: RICHNESS & WEALTH

In a discussion with friends from another country, comparing notes about life as lived in our respective countries, I realised that their idea of abundance was not to buy and hoard things, but traveling to other countries, exploring and experiencing their culture, food, sights etc. It was being able to work with refugees, teaching them life skills and ensuring they were equipped to live in the new country.

Basically their goals were the freedom to pursue their interests and the luxury to realize their passions.

I was struck by difference between our outlooks on what is worth pursuing.

For us, it’s all about how much material wealth that we have, the quantity of what we have as cash. Theirs is all about the quality of life they lead and have. Ours is about the ability to buy or spend, while theirs was about the ability to experience different things. Ours is all about tangible things, while theirs is about intangible things. Ours is about acquisition of concrete things, while theirs is the accruing of exploring experiences. Ours is about saving for some distant secure future, while theirs is about enjoying the present and savoring the day-to-day life.

We have lost out on teaching our children to decipher what is of value and what is worth saving. We have traded real treasures for baubles and trinkets that neither have substance nor provide satisfaction. We have given up the training of our children for the provision of comforts that may end up destroying them. We have forgotten that our future is our children and traded the spending of time-in-hand with them for the acquisition of something we may lose any time.

Jesus taught us to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first and promised other things will be added to us. He asked us not to waste our time and energies for things that have no value in eternity.

Let’s wake up to what in the true sense is wealth, abundance and of value.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21).

Father, impress upon us the sense of what is of real worth and help us to transfer that sense to those who have real worth – our children and our generations!

NO REGRETS

I sit here on the first day of the year, musing on the past, present and future. I come to one conclusion: Life is too short!

As the years go by, I see that one can work hard for money and possessions, but cannot earn the years to enjoy them. I conclude: Life is a gift!

I watch the parade of time, events, seasons, changes and people. I note the increase of depression, suicide, murder, abortion, death and I decide: Life is a choice!

Life is a gift, so don’t squander it. To each one is given an endowment of seconds, minutes, days and years. It may be large or small, nevertheless it is a trust. Be thankful for your inheritance. Rejoice in it. Enjoy it. Invest it and in it. Make it mean something, a thing of beauty and worth, for yourself and others. Don’t waste time, energy and resources given to you by hankering after those that are not given to you.

Life is a choice, to be lived or not, to exist or not, to enjoy or just pass time. Live fully everyday for the next may not be yours. Life is not a bed of roses, for sure as there is a waxing and a waning, day and night, gain and loss. Remember flowers bloom at night as well as in the day. Tides do ebb and flow. There is a beauty in darkness as well as in light. Learn to enjoy every season by adapting yourself its demands. Life is a dynamic flow and never a static stillness. You either resist and wear yourself out or move with it and be transformed. Choose to live.

Life is too short to be wasted with regretting your actions and reactions. Keep short accounts and don’t build up long lists by letting the sun go down on anger. It’s healthier to love and forgive than to bear grudge and become bitter. King Solomon the Wise said that a merry heart is like a medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones. So strengthen yourself with love, laughter and life. Don’t become old too quickly by being rigid and stiff, but maintain youthfulness by being flexible and pliant.

Above all, let’s not waste life by neglecting or misusing people, for their life too is short. Before you know, people are gone from this world, passed on to a place of no return. The most precious yet the most ignored entity and resource on planet earth is humankind. Each single person is an unique individual whose loss leaves a vacuum that nothing can ever fill or compensate. Don’t be hasty to cast off or throw aside people for they are not disposables. We grieve and lament when someone has moved on, but won’t it be better if we learnt to appreciate and value when they are still with us!

Let’s choose to live life to the fullest, this new year, with health and strength, as much as possible with no regrets whatsoever!

*Thanks to @theycallmetanj for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/QBknAHMdbz8