The other side…

The pandemic rages on, coming and going in waves…nobody knows for how long or how many more waves we’re yet to see. When you say COVID 19 , among the many things that became a new normal, the prominent image that comes to mind is someone in a PPE suit- goggles and hood and plastic overalls and a tight fitting mask. The people on the frontlines.

“Doctor, I cannot express my gratitude for the risk you guys take on a daily basis to watch out for people like us,” my last patient for the day was saying. I was that someone in the PPE suit, and amidst the sweat and the poor visibility and the suffocation, all I could think of was finishing as fast as possible so I could get out of there and breathe in some fresh air. But Gopi wanted to talk. So I stood for a couple more minutes. He was still having fever, but the one thing that caught my attention was the fear in his eyes. He continued for some more time about his family and how people with the virus were being neglected elsewhere and how he was grateful he got a bed with us so he knew he would be looked after in a time like this. I gave him a half hearted smile which definitely didn’t reach him through all that I had put on, asked him to not worry, and came off trying to shake off that look of fear from his eyes and wondering how long it would be before I was in his place.

Needless to say it wasn’t very long before I did end up on the other side. This was another moment where one is reminded again that disease and death are no respecters of persons. As the next couple of weeks passed in quarantine- juggling between managing symptoms and worried family members, I was reminded again and again of the look on Gopi’s face- the fear. His fears were also mine- how far would this virus display its prowess in my body? Would I recover completely? How much longer would these symptoms last? Would it worsen?

‘Everybody just dies’, my sister was saying after a week of COVID ICU duties. There was nothing one could say to cheer her up.

And with news of new variants and newer complications of the disease coming up, what can one hope for? Where do you go with all these fears?

What could one offer to that patient wondering whether he’ll make it through to the other side of this, or to the tired medico who’s been watching helplessly as patients succumb to this disease? What holds you up when you’ve fallen ill while taking care of others and you’re wondering whether it was all worth it?

Hope.

That’s what we are all longing for this season. And there’s only one place I know of that I can point you to today- Jesus Christ. He knows. He sees. And He’s got this. Even when we do not understand it.

Being on the other side of the PPE suit has been an interesting and learning experience. The one thing I know for a fact is that no amount of reading or knowledge helped with the questions and anxieties, but there was an undeniable peace when I surrendered and chose to fall back on the Living Hope and move on in faith.

Amidst all the uncertainties we face today, can we place our hope in this God who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End?

Hallelujah, praise the one who set me free
Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in your name
Jesus Christ, my living hope
(Living Hope, Phil Wickham)

Thus by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be strongly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure… (Hebrews 6:18,19a)

Gooder!

Organic Malgova mangoes.

They’re tricky. Can’t really say when they’ll ripen because nothing much changes in their appearance on the outside. They’re just the same strong green. Unless you touch/ smell them one fine morning and then suddenly realize it’s time.
And then after all the waiting, you cut one. Then there’s that huge seed.

Ever wondered why the mango has to have such a big seed, almost as big as itself? I mean you look at a nice big mango, and imagine a lot of mango pulp only to find that half the space was filled with the seed! Or better still, why can’t pomegranates be seedless? Why do pineapples have such an impossible covering?

It’s funny how sometimes the best of things aren’t always really easy. They’re really good. But there’s also the seed you gotta be mindful of. Some big, some small and annoying.

Waiting for breakthroughs in life- whether it’s a job or a marriage or a child or any door to open up is sometimes like waiting on Malgova mangoes to ripen. ( I won’t blame you for already judging me for that comparison)
You wait, hope and pray. And then one day suddenly things come around. There’s that phone call or that person or that opportunity.
But most times the breakthroughs aren’t all rosy and easy. There’s almost always that big seed. It doesn’t really come in the package you’d expected it to. Yes you got the job, but you had to start over in a new place, or you married the person you’d waited for but it was right in the middle of the pandemic with all the restrictions thereof , you were planning on wearing that beautiful satin dress to your best friend’s wedding that you both had dreamt of for so long, instead you find yourself on ICU duty in a PPE suit while she says her vows some place else, you thought you’d be done with exams and there’d be clarity on what next by now, but now you’ve got more time to prepare but no definite timeline to plan on, you have the holidays, but nowhere to go to ‘cos of the lockdown, you’re finally carrying your precious child in your womb but you’re bogged down with work and can’t take all the rest you need, you got into the course you’d always dreamt of, only to wonder if you’ll ever measure up…. so on.

When the blessing comes with the seed.
When you’re extremely grateful and thankful but there are adjustments to be made, expectations to reset and plans to be remade.

Manna- the food the Israelites were praying for didn’t really come in the manner they imagined. They could only ask , ‘What is this?’ But it was better for them than they’d really hoped for.

“Oh this is gooder!!’ Four year old J was exclaiming the other day. Quick to correct him, I said “No, the progression is good, better, best.” And he goes, “Yes! And then gooder!” Like it was so obvious. You can never win an argument with a 4 year old and hence I carried that word back with me. Figured the world needs a word beyond ‘best’. So..

The last couple of months have been a time of standing back and watching God work out His ways of being ‘gooder’ to me. Better than the best I’d imagined for myself. There’s the seed though. It didn’t come easy and it isn’t gonna be easy.
But seeds contain the potential to bring forth new life. They challenge us. They enable us to enjoy the goodness of the fruit. And grow. They nourish and hold it together.

As I pen this down, I can testify to the fact that He’s been teaching me to enjoy His providence while I work around the seed. And then sow that seed to bring forth new fruit and keep the cycle of life moving, using the times and experiences I’ve gone through to declare the goodness of the Lord to you.

Answered prayers. Unexpected packaging. A whole new view. But definitely ‘gooder’.

Have you been in a ‘manna’ situation lately? Pandemic and all?

Know that the Lord your God, your Maker, is good. His ways….gooder.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, emphasis added)

I love You, Lord
For Your mercy never fails me
All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God

(Bethel music, Jenn Johnson)

Let Him..

“Fling wide the gates..” She pushed those words to the back of her mind.” Open the ancient doors,…” Nooo, she didn’t want to hear them, “….and let the king of Glory in.” Ahhh. The soft still voice was persistent.

It had been a couple of frustrating days. She was beyond irritated and angry. Her arched eyebrows and furrowed forehead as the hot summer sun beat down on her head would have made anyone hesitate to even ask her what was wrong. A soaked mask and the added irritation thereof. And then there were the tears she was fighting back- tears of frustration, lost battles, and the desire to emerge like the Hulk from her normal work clothes and just stomp over the world. Passionately angry. Because she had passionately loved. And passionately trusted and hoped.

And in all that mess, another passionate voice was calling out from deep within. Pastor had said that verse a number of times in church last Sunday, it was etched somewhere deep within her tired grey cells. “Let me in” the Father was saying. “Fling open your gates” She didn’t want to. She wanted to close herself up in her room and weep for sometime. Cry out the frustration, and spend some time wondering why she still did what she did. Didn’t want to let anybody in for that moment. Wanted to dwell in the darkness as the waves came crashing in.

After yanking the lock of her house open and banging her door shut, she finally gave in, letting Him in on the disappointment and the distress and the helplessness. And as she slept off on her knees from the heat and the exhaustion, the sound of singing filled her heart. The old hostel room. Her senior strumming this chorus on her guitar, ” Can you hear the sound of heaven, like the sound of many waters? Its the sound of worship coming from the throne of God…” As those notes played out, a loud thunderstorm woke her up. She ran up to the terrace and stood right there as the heavy raindrops washed over her. A calm descended and the din of the day died down, she let that river of living water flow right from the throne of God into her heart… some days don’t make sense, they hurt more than others, some battles are harder, some leave scars- but as long as her eyes were on her Maker, it was all worth the pain. She’d rather live out her life passionately being what God had called her to be than live from paycheck to paycheck- loving, laughing, crying, singing,sometimes winning, sometimes losing….living.

Tired, sojourner? The sun might beat down quite furiously, but it always rains . Look around. You’ll hear Him in the trees and the bushes and the birds and the plains and the valleys. Just throw open your gates, and let the King of Glory in. Let Him wash over you. Let Him remind you why you do what you do. Let Him take that burden. Let Him….Let Him…and then go live! In every sense of that word. Look up. It might hurt, but He is enough. More than enough.

Fling wide the gates,
open the ancient doors,
and the great king will come in.
Who is this great king?
He is the Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, victorious in battle. (psalm 24)

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Shine…

Ever noticed that most hospitals have a chapel within the building or somewhere in close proximity? Or even a prayer room? They’re small, simple yet beautiful.

As a freshly admitted medical student, I used to think about our hospital chapel as such an oddity – a place meant for worship and prayer built smack in the middle of a noisy hospital corridor cluttered with the sounds of trolleys rushed to and fro, people asking for directions, doctors screaming out orders over the din to each other and so on. Weird! I’ve thought. Who would even notice this place in the midst of this craziness? And besides, who would have the time to come in here anyways?

A few weeks into my training I decided to enter the chapel one day. There was a sudden change of atmosphere from the noisy buzz outside to a calm that gripped my soul. As my eyes adjusted to the lighting within, I saw two hands lifted up just in front of the altar. An elderly woman wailing out loud on her knees. She wasn’t saying too many words but her desperation was palpable. As I sat and watched her for sometime, I started understanding the strategic positioning of this space.

Many years and different hospitals later, I’ve developed a sense of reverence for these places. They are places of solace. Of light. Of hope. Desperate pleas. Honest prayers. Unhindered praises. Freely flowing tears. Unmasked selves. These are some of the emotions that mark these chapels.

People seeking refuge from the only One who can offer one. Where scientific explanations end and miracles begin. Where the search for a highly experienced super specialist ends with the acknowledgement and the desire for a touch from the Creator of the Universe. The Healer. Where there is no pretence.

Broken souls. Melted candlewax. Raw emotions. And just outside, a world that keeps moving.

Whoever thought of the concept of a place of worship smack in the middle of a crazy hospital environment couldn’t have been more genius. Beyond every level of expertise the world of modern medicine can offer, every man’s ultimate need is the need of a Saviour. In need of things only He can give. And that begins with the breaking down of walls we’ve built around our hearts , with taking off the masks we wear (No, not the triple layer/N95 ones). Right in the centre of our workplaces and our maddening lives.

He was a special child. Mentally challenged they say. Exceptionally intelligent I think. He’d seen me before and recognised me from a distance when his mom came to me to get his regular medicines. He kept nudging her to tell me to remove my mask so he would know for sure. I removed my mask for a few seconds for him. I did not expect the reaction I got from this 14 year old boy with developmental issues. A sudden throaty laughter- one of sheer joy, and a high spirited small jump. He was right about me! He came over and gave me a sideways awkward hug in a way he knew how. And then held his mom’s hand and walked away smiling through his teeth. That’s all it took to make his day. Me removing my mask for him. Covid-19 protocols had to go for a lunch break!

“It’s like we came to the chapel. He feels seen,” his mom called out as they walked off.

Hospital chapels, OPD waiting areas, ICU counselling rooms, operation theatres- are some places where all disguises come off. And they remind us of a greater need.

In a world that teaches us to pretend and live up to the expectations that nobody knows who laid out, there is also an aching people. Aching for grace, mercy and love. Aching for the love of Jesus yet not knowing where to find it.

A touch. A hug. A kind word. A nudge on the shoulder. A word of encouragement. A small note of appreciation.

A conversation with no pretence. A space where they don’t have to keep up appearances. Haven’t you longed for some authenticity like that?

This is what the Lord has been challenging me to be over the past couple of weeks and a thought I’m putting out there for you to ponder on.

Oh Child of God, you who have tasted and known of the goodness of this amazing God, what can you do today to reach out to an aching society? To be that space of no pretence to somebody who needs to be seen or heard? To be that conduit that guides them to the Saviour. To be the salt. To be the light. To shine. Beginning from right where you are. Right now.

In need of Grace, In need of love
In need of mercy raining down from higher above
In need of strength, in need of peace
In need of things than only you can give to me

In need of Christ, the perfect Lamb
My refuge strong, the great I am
This is my song, my humble plea
I am your child, I am in need
(Ross King)

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ( Matthew 5:16)

Yellow…

On the drive between Palani and Oddanchatram, two small towns in southwest Tamil Nadu, there’s a particular wonder to behold in a particular season. Vast fields bathed in yellow. Yellow- the unapologetic bright kind. Oh yes, the colour yellow is associated with Palani a lot, especially ‘cos of the robes the pilgrims to the Palani temple wear and walk the roads on. But no, that’s not what I’m talking about.

It was Monday morning, and I was on the way back from an eventful weekend at home back to the place where I live and work. The driver anna was being his usual chatty self, filling me in on the local political scenes and all that was happening in and around his village and I kept him engaged with an occasional comment here and there and mostly with the vigorous nod that most South Indians have mastered over time. The kind that almost compromises the stability of the atlanto-occipital joint. We kept at it, me encouraging him to go on, while my mind kept busy, pondering over the demands of changing seasons in life. Noise on the inside and noise on the outside.

“Madam look!” He suddenly said, pointing to the sides. And there they were. Golden yellow fields. On both sides of the road. The sun shining on them enhancing their colour. Vast fields of sunflowers. Big ones. We stopped for a couple of minutes to just take in that beauty. As we gazed at those fields for a bit, the driver anna’s friendly voice faded into the background and the noises inside of me died down. There was a peculiar thing though. I was looking at the sunflowers. But the flowerheads were all turned in the opposite direction. Each one of those hundreds of flowers were faced in the same direction, their stalks straight, their heads held high- the direction the sun was shining on them. There was not a single flower that turned the other way round and not one of them drooping down. Not one flower turned the way the people who stopped to admire them were looking at. They just had one focus. And that was the source of their beauty, their nourishment and all that they were about. Named appropriately- Sun-flowers.

“Madam, polaama?” (shall we go?), the driver’s voice interrupted that moment with an urgency. As we resumed our journey forward, there was a strange peace inside of me. I was being reminded with as much clarity as possible- ‘ Why’re you looking around? Look to the Son (Jesus).’

That’s been the image in my head since. That sea of yellow.

No matter what everyone else has to say, or how much you’ve left to do or how impossible you think things look, will you look to the Son- the Author and Perfecter of your faith? Your Rock, your sure foundation.

Can we do that in our day to day lives, casting but a glance at what is around us, fixing our gaze though on Jesus? Unashamed, heads held high, undisturbed in our devotion to Him?

And when we do that, what others will notice about us is the light that falls on us- the glory of the Almighty God dwelling in us, His love brimming out from us. The colour of His love- that’s our ‘yellow’. Whatever season of life we’re in.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
(Helen Lemmel)

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…“( Hebrews 12:1, 2a)

The Freefall

I like structure. I’m the kind of person who would ideally like to be well informed before I take a decision, or well briefed/read before I approach a problem. I’m pretty sure most of us out there would identify with that. I mean who wouldn’t like a blueprint of what lies ahead right? Like a map, with directions and best of all, a safe path to follow.

As doctors, we are trained that way. We get the information we want from our overworked juniors or whoever is on the floor that day before we have even seen a particular patient. We like being informed, we like knowing the percentages, the best treatment options,the prognosis. We like having an approach. Nothing wrong with that. But as doctors, one would also realise that on the flip side, sometimes nothing goes according to plan. Ask a medical friend, and he/ she would testify to the number of times they have seen patients defy percentages, textbook descriptions or grave outcomes.

Somehow that’s the way with life in general. Despite our greatest efforts to be as prepped as possible, most times, life does take us by surprise.

I was sitting in the OPD the other day, wheeling under the happenings over the past couple of weeks, thinking and overthinking and then overthinking what I’d already overthought. I called in the next patient, and as they settled down, this six month old chubby fellow kept edging out of his mommy’s lap towards me. He kept reaching out and looking into my eyes till I finally took him onto mine. The next thing he did was what I hadn’t seen coming. He turned around, tried standing up and gave me a wobbly warm hug. And then just stayed there. Hanging onto my neck. I don’t know how to describe in words what I really felt at that moment. The warmth of that gesture translated into a certain kind of warmth deep in my soul. Ever thought of what it would feel like if you were in an elevator and suddenly it’s chain got cut? ( Now I know it’s not what normal people think about. Excuse me.) You become weightless. ‘Cos the elevator and you inside would be at the mercy of gravity.

That’s something like what I felt then. The anxious thoughts that were rolling around in my mind suddenly disappeared. And all I could think of was – Freely falling. Yes, I’d been following him up since he took his first breath till now; but that doesn’t give a baby any reason to remember the doc who resuscitated him at birth. He decided to give me some love that day, and he jolly well did!

As his mother and him walked away, God was speaking to my heart. Can you rest in my embrace like that child? Without fear. Casting away anxiety. Trusting. Freely falling.

Oh I was struggling. I needed more information, I needed a better picture, I needed more clarity, I needed a roadmap, I needed……. In all that noise in my head, a more firm still Voice was telling me, ” All you need is to let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms.”

‘The eternal God is your dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ ( Deuteronomy 33:27)

Dear friend, been in that place? Of strife? Of crippling anxiety? Of restlessness?

Sometimes we don’t have all the answers, most times we do not have as much information as we’d like to have, many times the picture we paint in our heads doesn’t match the one we actually see, and almost always, we can never be prepared enough for the days ahead. But you and I can do this one thing- trust in the God who holds the universe. In the One whose arms are holding you. You can let go.

Because He’s got this. You don’t need to know everything.

Remember the psalmist said, Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Ps 119:105)? He never mentioned ‘ a floodlight on all my days ahead’. No. We’re called to fall- fall back on Him.

Take it from this control freak, whom God has mercifully kept from being able to control anything significant in her life. The greatest blessings are the ones I’ve received with open trusting hands, unexpected, with faith the size of a mustard seed.

That’s what I’ve been asking for the grace to do these past few weeks. To be able to hang on to Him like that baby was hanging on to me. To free-fall.

Moving on into another year, let go. Freely fall back on Him.

“And the arms that hold the universe
Are holding you tonight
You can rest inside
It’s gonna be alright

And the voice that calmed the raging sea
Is calling you His child
So be still and know He’s in control
He will never let you go”
(Hope rising, Fee)

Esperanza!

Weariness.
That’s what I saw in the eyes of that grandmother who’s been coming for steroids month after month with her little grandson with Nephrotic syndrome, whom his parents had forsaken, in the tears of the mom who brought her son with chronic kidney disease once in 2 days for dialysis simply so he’d be alive, in the face of the father who brought his daughter with Beta Thalassemia every 21 days for her next blood transfusion- there are many more- all of them with the same question- When will this be over? Or will it ever? And their eyes searched my face… for hope, atleast an inkling.

Funny thing is, I was asked the same question three times over the past one week that I’d been asking myself already- Is there hope? Is there an answer?

As I sat back against the terrace wall and closed my eyes, my thoughts drifted to that one blank page somewhere a little more than halfway through my Bible- the one that separates the Old Testament from the New Testament. That page was symbolic of 400 years of waiting- when so much of recklessness and oppression prevailed, and there was no prophet, no leader, no dreams or visions, no voice from God. A loud silence. Deafening in fact. A prolonged wait for a Saviour. Nobody knew when or how. They were a tired people. Weary.
Sounded like my life, I thought.
And when you turn that page over and as the gospel of Mathew unfolds, you hear a cry, a newborn baby’s shriek, breaking that silence. The wait for a Saviour had come to an end. He had come! And how!

My mind’s been blown away again and again as I read and reread the account of the birth of Jesus as given in the gospels. A young woman, a bewildered carpenter, shame, confusion, a census at an inconvenient time, rejection, a manger of absolutely no significance, a helpless baby- these were some of the circumstances that God chose to display His glory through. They were weary, Oh yes. Tired of what people were talking about them back home, tired of being misunderstood again and again, exhausted from a journey on a donkey’s back and about as comfortable as anyone could get in a stable surrounded by animals- and yet the baby’s cry brought hope- He had come to deliver us from eternal damnation.

You know, that’s the story of Christmas, that’s why the bells and the carols and the candles and all that jazz- it’s not about the big man in a red suit riding reindeer, it’s about a God who became man to save our souls. A God who came to give us that hope- the hope of eternity.
This story is the beginning of all other stories- a story where in the midst of weariness, pain, anxiety, disappointment, unanswered prayers and uncertainty- hope shone through.

Dear friend, I do not know what your Christmas might look like this year, whether there’s a family you’ll be going to or you’ll be in the ward, like me, on duty, whether you’re in a place of weariness and you’re close to giving up on God or you’re filled with thanksgiving, whether you’re drowning in your doubts and uncertainty or you’re hanging on for dear life, whether you’re prepping for an upcoming wedding or you’re wondering when you’ll ever find the one for you or whether you’re wondering like the parents of those children I mentioned earlier, “when will the suffering end?”.

Interruptions, inconveniences, unanswered prayers , doors that refuse to open- whatever this year has handed out to you, may I remind you as I was reminded that God chose to break nearly 400 years of silence with a tiny baby’s cry from a manger in Bethlehem. His magnificence shone through the darkest of times, through the most obscure circumstances, through two very normal people who were going about their usual lives that were suddenly interrupted with a lot of inconvenience.

What child is this
Who lay to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping

This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The Babe, the Son of Mary

So bring him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant king to own him
The King of Kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone him
(What child is this, William c Dix)

There is hope. As the houses light up and songs are sung and gifts are exchanged, let’s remember- there is hope. Esperanza. Jesus is the hope.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

A Blessing…

He was a big man. Literally. With an ailing three month old baby girl. It was a difficult 2 weeks. While his baby progressed from one complication to the next due the nature of her disease, he ran- ran for blood products, to arrange money as the medicines got costlier and more sophisticated procedures were done, ran to provide for his four year old son back home- and then ran back to be by the bedside of his infant. As her treating doctors we left no stone unturned to try salvage this precious little life. I for one never saw this man so much as sitting in one place for more than 5 minutes. At the end of a week and a half, when all of us knew without many words being said that this child didn’t have much time left. He still looked hopeful. Another 24 hours later, when I gently suggested he be prepared for the worst, he sat down in the hospital corridor and wept out of his wife’s sight- huge giant sobs. I stood there. Just to share that moment with him. There wasn’t anything left to say.

When the day arrived for him to take the lifeless body of his precious daughter home, I saw not a defeated man, but a man who rose up to hold the rest of his family together- he paid for the entire hospital expenses, completed all formalities, headed all the arrangements to be made with a stoic boldness I wish I had. Just before he left, he did one more thing. He walked over to me , held my hand and thanked me through tear filled eyes and asked me to convey his gratefulness to every doctor on our team. Not just that- He uttered a blessing over me before he got into the driver’s seat to drive his family home. A blessing! Yeah! (If I were him, let’s just say it wouldn’t be such a graceful scene!)

I stood there in that same hospital corridor where I’m sure his tears hadn’t yet dried up, not knowing what to think or make of it. This big man had just lost his daughter to a terrible disease, something that he would have never imagined 2 weeks ago, he was exhausted and drained- of everything, but he didn’t forget to stop and say a blessing over me. Despite… Inspite of…

Oh friend! When was the last time you stretched your hand out towards someone else and prayed a blessing over them despite how you felt about your life at that moment? (I’m not talking about how we say ‘Bless you!’ when someone sneezes at the dinner table.) I’m asking about the #real#deep from the heart despite all the hurt# blessing- when was the last time you were prompted to do that?

With a very difficult year coming to a close, if there was ever a time to celebrate the birth of a Saviour, it definitely is now. To be reminded that ,” For God so loved the world that he GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”( John 3:16)

Yahweh- the Almighty God- He loved so much, He gave. He promises us that His face is always towards us. Always. So as children of this amazing promise, can we- you and me, stretch out our hands today, towards the next person and pray a blessing over them in the name of His precious Son- Jesus Christ?

As I type this down, I pray a blessing over each and every one of you who happens to read this. Despite what my life looks right now. In spite of the billion reasons I could give myself to avoid doing it. Because God loved me so much… He gave. And I pass on that candle to to you.

Receive it with an Amen.

Your turn now. Who do you wanna bless today?

With your words and your actions…

May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, He is with you
In the morning , in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you , He is for you
( The Blessing, Cody Carnes/ Kari Jobe)

#theDrawingDisciple

Gracias!!

Come November and, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling a sense of foreboding and dampness in the spirit. Why? One may ask. I don’t know. Maybe its just that another year is drawing to a close and the overthinker in me is pondering over questions like ,” Was this a fruitful year? Have I moved forward in life? Was it really worth one’s existence ?” And so on. As the fervour of the upcoming festivities and holidays kick in slowly and not very subtly, I stand with trepidation at the brink of it, preferring to drown in the sounds of the pouring rain beating against my window, refusing to think about lights or decorations or holiday plans or Christmas barbeques. 2020 being the year that it has been, helps to foster such feelings too. I don’t need to explain that one to you right?

It was one such damp morning when heavy rain and loud thunder, hypothermia (because I’d slept off without a blanket) and a restless mind, woke me up. A cup of coffee later, I settled into a warm corner of the room with some writing material and my Bible, seeking the face of the only One who could calm the storm inside of me. As a billion questions battled for priority in my head, I opened up my diary to start writing out a petition to the Almighty. A well worded one that conveyed my problems and questions to Him in very strong and clear words, with the questions I had listed out in descending order of priority and all my unanswered prayers throughout the year in capital letters and underlined in red- in case He had missed out on or forgotten those.

My pen and heart however, seemed to have a mind of their own. The only words that I finally wrote down on that first line were “Thank you Lord”. I looked at the paper for sometime in disbelief. Absolutely not how I wanted to start out. But my pen seemed to go on. And on and on. At the end of what seemed like a good half an hour, there were two pages, both sides, filled with points of praise and gratitude and tears in my eyes.

Tears of gratitude, of saying ‘Thank you’, ‘Dhanyawad’, ‘Gracias’-for days gone by, for abundant grace and exceeding mercy, for protection, for strength, for love and laughter, for simply and absolutely everything, every single day I could sleep in peace and wake up knowing I’m unconditionally loved and taken care of by Jehovah- the Almighty God, the King above all other kings, my Father and Best Friend.

Needless to say, as my eyes ran over those pages, the only way this created being could respond, was by lifting hands in worship. And as I worshipped, the dampness lifted, a song broke out in my heart and the storms stilled. Forgotten was the petition I’d started off to make in the first place.

What grace! What mercy! What love!

So here’s this note I write to myself today- Dear me, you may still have unanswered questions and undecided days ahead. You will still get hurt in the running, you may still find some days more difficult than others, some circumstances harder than the rest, some mountains taller, some giants stronger. But hey! Will you promise to remember the days you never thought you’d get through and yet you did and you’re here today? Will you promise to remember to give thanks despite….? Worship in spite of….? Praise Him even when….? Will you?

Circle Zion, take her measure,
count her fortress peaks,
Gaze long at her sloping bulwark,
climb her citadel heights—
Then you can tell the next generation
detail by detail the story of God,
Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time. (Psalm 48:12-14)

Friend, Get up! Take full measure of your life till now. And sing when you see the Glory of God so intimately entwined in every detail of your days.

Shall we lift up this sacrifice of thanksgiving this morning? We can never be thankful enough. That’s one thing we could never overdo!

“He wants to give Himself for us each moment of our lives just as completely as He gave Himself on the cross. We have nothing to give Him; we have only to receive of Him!”
― Merlin R. Carothers, Prison To Praise

Breathe…

I woke up the other morning with a feeling of drowning without air. Like someone was at my throat. Physically. It took me a couple of minutes as I sat up to realize that I needed to get a hold of my inhalers and that I was suffering the consequence of wearing a dusty mask the previous day – an exacerbation of asthma, as my bronchi refused to lighten up. Another couple of minutes and some salbutamol later, I was breathing freely. And Oh! What a relief that was.

Now any of you reading this who’s ever had to get a nebulisation to just help you take the next breath would surely agree with me this that there’s nothing that can compare to that sense of freedom of being able to just inhale and exhale freely again. (Yeah, I see you right there!)


‘Happy hypoxia’ is a term most of us would have heard by now with regard to the COVID19 pandemic. It’s a phase of this illness where you’re unaware of your body’s need for oxygen till you suddenly collapse . And then there’s the scurry of activity- ambulance, hospital, ICU, ventilation, desperately hoping for a good outcome- essentially disaster management in non medical terms.

As I looked around the other day, I saw a community of people who are running low on their sats, but unaware. Happy hypoxics. I looked at the mirror and a happy hypoxic stared right back at me. No,no… I’m not talking about a Covid hotspot. (In case you’d already reached out to my contact ID to find out what place I’m talking about).

I’m talking about the business of busy bodying. Now what I described in the beginning was a physical feeling I felt the other day, but there have been many days before that day where I’ve felt suffocated on the inside. In my mind. After the initial wonder of the lockdown forcing our usual selves to take a break from our regular busy schedules, and explore parts of our lives we never knew existed before, we have ( as human beings over centuries have done) ,adapted to the pandemic- to wearing masks, to learning to be distracted and busy within the confines of the restrictions. Scurrying about. Zooming in. Zooming out. Webinars, Classes. Deadlines. Plans. Worrying. Wondering. A feeling of doing so many things, being in so many places at the same time, yet essentially not really being significant enough .
Have you noticed that when you are working out really hard or even running quite fast, you end up holding your breath till the trainer (if you have one, or simply your brain) calls out – exhale? If you’ve not noticed it before, watch out for that now. You’re so into what you’re doing that your chest feels like it’s going to explode and you just have to breathe out. And then you wonder, ‘Why didn’t I realise that before?’

Sometimes our lives are like that. Most times actually. We scurry, we scramble, we strive, we struggle, we shuttle between things, we get so caught up in our frustrations of how things/ people should have been as opposed to how they have turned out….(You make your own list here.) And our chest is so full. We are so busy doing the good things we forget to seek out the best. We don’t see anything around us, except us and our fragile egos and we gradually run low on life – happily hypoxic, severely myopic.

With having to wear masks day in and day out , I’m sure all of us at a time like this, are more aware of every breath we take than we’ve ever been before. Oxygen is one of the most expensive medicines we offer in a hospital. When our body refuses to cooperate with the natural order (due to disease), we end up having to resort to this costly drug and pay that price to just keep us alive! But imagine the amount of oxygen we breathe in on a daily basis that is unaccounted for! Such is the Creator’ s extravagance towards His creation.
If only we could take it in. Freely.

Friend, is your chest about to explode? Have you been super focused on your miniature world that you’ve forgotten to exhale? Have you been running low on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control? Have you missed out on the Voice from the burning Bush because you were rushing to get water to put out the fire? (In your hurry to do good, you missed out on the best.)

Are you in that place? Are you a bomb about to explode? Or a breakdown just waiting to happen? Is it all falling apart?

Your Creator calls out to you today…

Breathe………Just breathe.

Let Jesus in- into those spaces. Into those confusions. Into all that hard work you’re at.Into your strife.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:9)

“I’m busy, busy, busy, and it’s no surprise to see
That I only have time for me, me, me
There’s gotta be something more to this crazy life
I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear you say just
Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to take it in, fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe “
(Jonny Diaz, Breathe)

Shall we, you and me, take a moment to revel in the extravagance of His love?

“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.”
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air