TRANSIT THROUGH TRANSITION

In one of the stories in the Chronicles of Narnia, specifically in Prince Caspian, the four children enter a passage through a tree to leave Narnia and as they walk along the dark passage, behind them they still can look back and see Narnia. Then comes a time in their walk when Narnia is no longer visible and they just have to keep steadily moving forward, even though they see nothing ahead. As they continue walking, they soon see the glimmer of their world at the other end, getting closer and brighter, until they finally they emerge into the light and their world again.

The transition itself is very unsettling, and transiting through it is indeed quite unnerving. Going through or negotiating the passage between seasons and places is often alarming because, for one, you are neither there nor here. For another, you can see what you left behind, but not what is ahead. The time of your past, where you were and what you have been, is still visible, clear and fresh in your memory, but you aren’t yet able to see the future, what you will be or how it will be. You look back with nostalgia at what has been and draw strength from it. You draw inspiration from it and even talk about it a lot, because it acts as a reference point, a solid anchor for your present. You hold on it and try to prevent it from disappearing from your purview, but you soon lose sight of it.

It is similar to journey from one place to another, but in the case of travelling the fact that you get to see places or things passing by through your window and watch where you are going, makes it pleasant and thrilling. Also, with travel, you do know the duration of the journey, even when there is a delay. It is only when the waiting gets prolonged that you become restless, but still not troubled too much since you are in touch with your surroundings and there are people with you who are also in the same predicament.

During the transition, you just have to go on even when you can’t see anything and you feel like you are groping in the dark, like a person with a blindfold. When you begin you do see and know where you are going, but once you enter in, just as in a tunnel, there will come a point and time where there seems to be only darkness all around. You can neither see where you are going nor what you have left behind. You just have to trust the way you know and the vision you have seen do exist on the other side!

This is the most tricky part and point in traversing through transition – reaching the place where you can no longer see what you have left behind nor have the comfort of seeing the promise of something ahead. There is only darkness and dimness all around, nothing concrete visible. There is no datum point to help you fix your bearings or your surrounding or anything to pin your hope on. The only surety you have is that the path you are on will surely lead to where you need to go and the guarantee of the dawn that you’ve already had a glimpse of is just ahead of you. It is time to walk by faith and not by sight, since you have no sight to see at all!

When the world around seems dark and dim and the present is the only all-consuming reality which leaves you in a bind because you feel lost, what should you do? How do you handle such time of uncertainty and the unknown?

Here are some ways to help transit through transition time:

1. Don’t panic
People become very jittery and unsettled when familiar landmarks, practices, events and even people disappear from their sight or life. They keep trying to go back to what they know or do what they did before, but will find these failing to help them or give them the results they desire. Many often go back to what they are used and turn back rather than pursuing the way of the Lord. The disciples went back to fishing after Jesus death and resurrection. He had to come to their work and place of refuge, their fishing boats and fishing, to point them to what He had already chosen them to be and do – fishers of men.

2. Take one day at a time
Just live for the day fulfil the duties at hand. Be content to do what you have to do daily and be satisfied with living the day to the fullest. Find joy in the small things of life and what you can accomplish with what you have.

3. Don’t plan too much ahead
If you think too much of what might happen or what might be, you will lose your peace and become agitated. This frame of mind will cause you to feel even more depressed and lost. You may tend to make hasty or wrong decisions and so wait for the darkness to lighten. Live with what you know to do and what you have in hand, rather than aimlessly trying to plan for months ahead.

4. Remember the darkness is temporary but necessary
Just as a caterpillar goes through a stage of being confined in a dark cocoon, you will have to pass through this time to reach the next level. This period between seasons is temporary and not permanent, something even an insect knows and hence doesn’t struggle to escape it.

5. Keep in mind the goal and vision you have seen
Don’t forget what you saw or comprehended before you entered this tunnel of darkness or time of confinement. That is the goal you need to reach and for which you need this time of limitation. The passage had an entry and will surely, therefore, have an exit. God didn’t make you enter this phase without being able to help you out of it. So, encourage yourself with what you know to be true rather than being discouraged by what you see.

6. Be in and at rest rather in agitation
Enjoy the season of rest that has been given to you rather wasting it by worrying. A bear hibernate’s in winter to conserve energy and strength, coming out of its cave rejuvenated in spring. Take this time to relax, catch up on things you missed, sleep well and in general recuperate yourself to face the new season.

7. Recognize the times and seasons
Develop your senses to know the change that will begin all around you. Quieten yourself to watch for the signs of the season ahead, just as the lightening of the darkness signals the tunnel’s end. Begin to note the signs of dawn that portend the new day.

8. Prepare yourself for the new season
Instead of moaning or grumbling or panicking, begin to acquire new skills and new competencies. Have the attitude and demeanour of a student to learn new things. Use the time profitably to develop new habits and hobbies, if possible, new experience. Realign and restore things you have lost or been unable to concentrate on in the previous season. Assess what you may need in the new season and get yourself prepped up to handle it. Don’t waste the transition time, but use it profitably.

9. Confide in a few faithful ones
Have a few confidants and confide in them when the darkness becomes overwhelming or uncertainty is pressing you down. Don’t isolate yourself, but seek the help of a small number of faithful people who can and will support you in every way. Don’t try to show yourself strong, but lean on their wisdom and strength for they will be able to encourage you. Be accountable to them so that you don’t slip back or away from doing the right thing in a dark time.

10. Live by faith and not by sight
Stop trying to live by what your senses tell you, but each day trust in Him. The Bible says that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness, great. He Who made the day to appear after the night, making it an eternal ordinance, will cause the light to appear in your darkness and cause you to enter the new day. He will never let you go nor will He abandon you. So, take heart and trust in Him implicitly.

In Jermiah 48, we come across a significant passage in v11: “Moab has been at rest from youth, like wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another— she has not gone into exile. So she tastes as she did, and her aroma is unchanged.

Being poured from one vessel to another, being moved from one season or place or phase to another is not easy, but if you are not, then you remain the same, without undergoing metamorphosis. There won’t be growth or cleansing or going higher. You won’t lose your impurities and become transformed.

Don’t resist transition, but bear with it and walk through it as being mandatory and necessary for progress.

You may not like it, but don’t retract or retreat from it!

During transition, stay calm and transit through it in quietmess, emerging stronger and better for having gone through it!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com and Googlr images

IS IT TIME FOR GREAT THINGS?

The prophet Jeremiah in the Bible is one worth knowing about, especially in this unprecedented pandemic and total lockdown days. 

Born into a family of priests from the town of Anathoth in Benjamin, Jeremiah was the last prophet before the Kingdom of Judah was carried away into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Jeremiah is rightly called the prophet of doom tasked as he was with the message of imminent judgement. He had the unenviable burden of warning Judah of the immediacy of God’s judgement as well as the misfortune to see it happen in reality and actuality. It was during his lifetime itself that Judah was captured, it’s capital city destroyed and it’s subjects interred in Babylon. He was truly the Prophet of end times for the nation and had to live till his last breath among rebellious people who persisted in their defiance of God and His laws. 

Jeremiah is also called the Weeping Prophet for he was totally heartbroken with the message he had to preach and he was a true nationalist at heart. He suffered greatly at the hands of his countrymen because he wouldn’t preach a message that was favourable or palatable to them. He was called by God to sound the alarm of God’s judgement and His rejection of them as His people. He was one who paid the price for calling people to repentance, the most unpopular of almost all prophets because he preached an unpopular message!

Jeremiah’s companion and secretary, probably in his later years, was Baruch, son of Neriah, a young apprentice. Baruch was tasked with writing down all the prophecies of Jeremiah at the behest of God (Jer 36:2). Being privy to God’s prophetic utterance and the authentic knowledge of His plans put pressure on Baruch.  His association with Jeremiah affected him terribly for the message to his mentor, which he had to transcribe, was one of constant gloom and unrelenting doom. No wonder then God had to single him out to speak a very short, special and personal message in chapter 45 of the book of Jeremiah. 

For a young man, the death knell to his future and his plans for it would obviously be upsetting and terrifying. To be told that his world was going to end because of God’s decree of punishment would have rocked Baruch’s world and his visions of a rosy future! It was now his time to live and enjoy life, but what to do when God Himself was dismantling his world! The name Baruch means ‘blessed’, but Baruch probably felt cursed for being born into those times (Jer 45:3)!

Without mincing words, God tells Baruch “You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’ ”Jer 45:2‭-‬5. 

The key note to Baruch was “Is it time to seek great things for yourself”! The Message version puts it well “…forget about making big plans for yourself”! God tells him, ” I am going to overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted throughout the earth and you are worried about yourself!” Baruch was worried about his own life and bitter that his plans cannot be accomplished at a time when the whole world was being judged!

How like so many of us who, in these days, are frustrated and in despair because our dreams and well-laid-out plans for our future are falling apart and collapsing like a house of cards due to COVID! We are belligerent because we feel robbed and cheated of our rightful future. We had such hopes, not just for us, but also for our children, and now all of that had been swept away with one stroke of a pandemic! Some of us were galloping merrily along life’s path, progressing well, having a good life and then suddenly all of it has ground to a halt by a stupid pandemic!

God’s answer to Baruch is the answer for us today: Is this the time for such thoughts of self! Is it time to rue the ruin of our calculations for a secure future! Is it time to curse our ‘fate’ for being born in this generation! Is it the time to view with a sense of loss your ‘ill-luck’ for being in this season! 

No, it is not the time or season for us to sit down with our heads in our hands and think of what we have forfeited. Rather, it is the time to sit down and take stock of our priorities, our focus and assess where we are going. It is time to realign our priorities and decide what we will be following and doing. It is time to become committed and build our relationship with God, seeking wholeheartedly to follow His precepts and to live by His standards. It’s time to seek to do His will and hanker after eternal goals rather than simply targeting temporal things. It is time to be serious!

We are in a period when tragedy has impacted the whole world, an unprecedented happening. COVID has become an uncontrollable and unimaginable event of epic proportions, rendering everything uncertain and vulnerable. The only stable and sustaining factor of life is God with His constancy. He is the only Rock on which we can stand amid the sinking sand. He is the sole guarantee of our future in the midst of the question of what might happen next in this world!

It is very comforting to note that along with the prediction about their captivity and their exile from the land, Jeremiah also prophesied about their return from exile and their settling back in it. He even gave a timeline (70 years) for their return and a reason for it (the land had to have all the sabbath years it had not been given) Jer chapter 25!

Even in the midst of His judgments, God’s compassion and mercy cover us with His promise of return and restoration. It is in the book of Jeremiah that we read the famous oft-quoted words: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jer 29:11 NIV! 

God is not out to destroy us or our future, but to preserve our lives in all that may happen, whatever may hit this world before His future arrives and plans for us come to pass. That was God’s promise to Baruch in that special message to him: ‘Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’ Jer 45:5 NIV. That was God’s Word to Baruch and it’s  His Word to us, a word of greatest comfort and anchor in troubled times!

May we use this time for a restoration of our love for God and a time of renewing our relationship with Him!

*Pics courtesy of unsplash.com and google images

A GOOD LIFE: RICHNESS & WEALTH

I was recently talking to couple of friends from another country, comparing notes about life as it is lived in our respective countries. Discussing the outlook and pursuits of people in the world today, I was explaining how education is a top priority in my nation since it helped ensure good-salary-paying jobs which in turn enabled a person to live comfortably.

A third world country with a huge population, many of our farmers are taking huge debts or selling their lands to fund their children’s studies. Their families are moving away from traditional occupations in agriculture sector in villages to jobs in the IT sector in cities. I told my friends that this was understable, as they did not want their children to suffer under the vagaries of weather, failed crops, greedy money lenders, exploitation by land owners to live in poverty as they had. They wanted to free their next generation and launch them in to a pattern of stability through financial security that ensured a life of dignity.

My friends talked about the interests and pursuits of the people in their country. They shared how for them, and for most for those in their country, wealth and richness was not about money in the bank, ownership of land or property, stocks etc. It was about time spent in pursuing their interests and being involved in helping other people.

Their idea of abundance was not the ability to buy things, but being to travel to other countries, explore their food, experience their culture etc. It was being able to work with refugees, teaching them life skills and ensuring they were equipped to live in the new country. It was the freedom to pursue their interests and the luxury to realise their passions that they considered as goals to achieve.

I was struck by the contrast of what each country considered and sought after as wealth worth pursuing and gaining. For us it’s all about how much material wealth that we have,  the quantity of what we have as cash, while theirs is about the quality of life they lead.

Ours was about the ability to buy or spend, while theirs was about the ability to experience different things. Ours was all about tangible things, while theirs was about intangible things. Ours was about acquisition of concrete things, while theirs was the accruing of exploring experiences. Ours was about saving for some distant secure future, while theirs was about enjoying the present and savoring the day-to-day life. 

Of course it is to be accepted and acknowledged that, when every day life and existence itself in question or jeopardy, it is impossible to think of adventure or experiencing. Yet I couldn’t but think that, maybe we have, in the pursuit of hard wealth, missed out on the real wealth viz. time and people, especially now at a time when our country is being touted as economically sound.

We have forgotten that the greatest treasure of all is human life and the time of existence, as when these are lost they can never be regained or restored. We have also lost out on teaching our children to decipher what is of value and what is worth saving, thrusting poverty mentality on them. We have traded real treasures for baubles and trinkets that neither have substance nor provide satisfaction. 

It’s not as though we haven’t known the art of fine and right living. A look back at our history, a look at our sculptures and monuments and a look to our music and dance are enough to point out that ours is a ‘rich and varied heritage’. We just need to pause for look at where we have lost our way and trace back to find our original milestones and markers.


We become what we value and develop the nature of that which we hanker after. So, in our greed for gold, we have like Midas lost the sight and sense of sanctity of life and the commonsense of counting the days we are squandering. We have become hard and ruthless like the cash we handle, and reckless of the minutes we lose living the present in pursuit of an utopian future that we may not live to experience, let alone enjoy!

We have given up the training of our children for the provision of comforts that may end up destroying them, now and later. 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. We have, as a nation, become callous and unfeeling, wasting lives and years (witness the rampage of violence and crime against the defenceless and the weak), destroying the very future we seek to secure.


Jesus said that true wealth is that which extends beyond a lifetime and thay which can be saved in a place where it cannot be stolen or destroyed. He also said that life is not in abundance of material things nor the accruing of it, something we tend to brush aside as irrelevant.

Time lost is lost forever and life wasted is wasted forever. Time and tide waits for no man, neither does life and living. When one passes on beyond to the land of the dead, nothing is of significance except how much you have valued people and how wisely you have used time. 


Let’s wake up to what in the true sense is wealth, abundance and of value. Let’s conserve and preserve the real things that have substance and can give content as well as satisfaction. Let’s transfer the sense of what is of real worth to those who have real worth, our children and our generations!

 

*Pic courtesy http://unsplash.com/

CLOSING TIME

nicolas-tissot-335096

The year draws to an end,
The month draws to a close,
The day draws to the last hour,
I draw near to You, my Lord.

As the sun sets in the west,
As the birds fly to their nest,
As men seek their well-earned rest,
I draw close to lie still on your breast.

Time is slowly winding down,
Taking its last waning turn,
Eternity is inexorably invading space ,
I draw strength from your grace.

Be still, know that I am God, you said,
Why should bother about what may lie ahead?
I am with you to the ends of the world, I hear,
Why would I then fear to walk into another year?

                        © SABINA TAGORE IMMANUEL
*Photos courtesy unsplash.com

TIME PAUSE

Time passes so quickly by,
Moments often go fleeting by,
Life is just simply flying by,
I can only hold memories with a sigh!

I don’t regret the past
Nor crib that it didn’t last
I do wish it hadn’t gone so fast
Though I cannot say I did have a blast!

I’ve sowed in tears with many a fear,
I’ve floundered in doubts with many a debt,
I’ve cringed with aches with many a mistake,
I have survived a thousand brawls with many a wrong call!

I wish I had my life lived much better,
Without the burden of thoughts oh so bitter.
I yearn to have loved much more sincere
Not sticking so too close to the letter!

What more awaits me in the years ahead,
I have no real clue, I have no certain lead.
All I have is His promise, all I need to know is His Word,
For He has in the wilderness a table spread!

© SABINA TAGORE IMMANUEL
*Photo courtesy https://unsplash.com/photos/BXOXnQ26B7o