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Screenshot_20180924-210546.jpgAll of us are born with this yearning for ‘home ‘. Sometimes we spend a lifetime trying to figure out where this is.

Recently, as I walked into the isolation room of the paediatric ICU, I met the smiling face of 4 year old Akhil. Akhil had just been diagnosed a few weeks back with a bad form of blood cancer.  Nothing more to be done.  He was just being given palliative care, meaning support him till he succumbs.  Well, he certainly didn’t look it as I walked in to collect his history and get all his details. He first gave me that ‘Can you be trusted?’ look and then when he’d decided I can be taken into his confidence,  he smiled with a twinkle in his eye. Suddenly the chaos of the PICU outside the isolation room didn’t matter anymore.  I sat down beside him,  and asked him the most basic question..Hey,  how are you?
The smile didn’t cease as he replied,’ I’m good. I have cancer. But I’m going  home.’
That statement was a little too much for my sleep deprived mind to process..my mind be like ” wait.. did he just tell me his prognosis as well? Or did he just say he wants a DAMA( discharge against medical advice)?”
So I ask him like I’m the 4 year old and he’s the boss..’ Home is where , da?’ So he places his small hand in mine,  and looks at me like I’ve a long way to go to reach his level of understanding, and says ” see chechi( read elder sister), it’s okay if you can’t treat me, ‘cos I’ll be home in heaven with Jesus. That’s where I actually came from.  Will you pray with me today?”
As I held his hand and prayed with little Akhil in the PICU that night, I realised the truth in what Jesus said,  Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.
Wisdom doesn’t necessarily belong with the grey haired.

Born in one country, brought up in another and then finding my vocation in a different state among a different culture and people, if you ask me where’s home? I’ll take some time to answer that one. But homesickness does strike quite often , and the yearning to belong as well.
So on one of those homesick days , I decided to go ” home”, as in the place my parents live in. Guess what – ‘homesickness’  didn’t go away. Went and spent some time with my closest friends- no luck there either. Finally, after I’d exhausted the available options, I got down on my knees to spend some time with the Maker. Needless to say, it wasn’t a long time before I felt home.

That day I realised what Akhil told me- home is not in the mountains or by the seaside; it’s not even where family is or where your entire lifetime was spent; it’s not in the arms of your lover or with your closest friends- it’s where your God is. In His presence, there you’re best at home. Home’s heaven. And that’s what our hearts ache for. And  this lifetime is the journey towards.
And that was little Akhil’s hope and joy.
My home is heaven.  I’m just travelling through this world ‘ Billy Graham.

When the oceans rise…

We are human beings  – we empathise, we sympathise and especially those of us who’ve been around in the world long enough, we also know the right words to say when disaster strikes somewhere, when things go wrong with someone or someplace. We are taught to click our tongues at just the right moments, speak passionate words at just the right places and maybe look at the TV screens with just the right expressions- the expression of dismay, of seeming sadness for the loss of someone we’re watching from a distance.

But when the storms hit homeground, then the story changes right? Then we find ourselves reeling in a mixture of emotions and motions we never knew we were capable of before.

When the rains started flooding the state I come from,  I did the appropriate clicking of my tongue, ‘lets pray for the places worst affected’ speech, sympathised and empathised- just appropriately, like we’ve all learnt to do. But when my home got flooded, when I couldn’t contact my parents for a whole day straight, when the waters started rising steadily at home and my folks were forced to move out, then reality struck. I could feel my father’s pain at having to leave the home at the mercy of the angry waters. It was not just the furniture or the documents in the house he was pained to leave behind, it was the home we had, the memories we’d shared there, a lifetime of hard earned comfort, all our old books, albums, pictures- everything that made a home a home, a lifetime that we’d shared and treasured and so preciously kept together. I couldn’t just shake my head at the television screen and exclaim’ How sad!’ anymore. I was just struck by the enormosity of the losses that we would be enduring if the rains continued the way they did.

It was real. It was right there. And it had struck home.

And that’s when I truly captured a very very small part of what those fellow countrymen would be going through, with their very houses washed away, near and dear ones missing, no place to go to, no idea how long this would last and holding on to dear life.

As the rains have started to cease and as the waters recede, I’ve come to  realise that no amount of funds, spare clothes, medicines or relief camps can provide much relief. What they’ve lost is so much more than what any of us can even begin to comprehend. So as we extend our helping hands, lets also ask God to comfort the flood-whelmed brethren because only the God of all comfort can provide that peace that passes all understanding.

I share with you a verse from a song I love dearly that held my heart as  anxiety overwhelmed me:

“When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God”

(Still- Hillsong worship)

Isaiah 43:2 New King James Version (NKJV)
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

#floodskerala2018

Closer than a brother

There’s a strange verse in the Bible that goes “..but there’s a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (proverbs 18:24). Yeah!

There was one day that I’d come back from work feeling exhausted- mentally and physically. A lot of  happenings from the recent past weighing down on me and the uncertainty of the future hovering over my head like a dark cloud. I opened the door to my room, switched on the light , and lo! the room lit up with very pretty string lights and a huge colourful handmade poster on the wall that had the lyrics of one of my favourite songs that read ‘ Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes’ . My eyes welled up and suddenly whatever weighed me down wasn’t so heavy anymore. I just stood there smiling and crying at the same time. That was the handiwork of a ‘friend who sticks closer than a brother’. She knew I needed some brightness in my life at that moment.

 

As a child I’ve read that verse so many times and wondered if I’d ever find a friend who sticks closer than a sibling, was the guy who wrote that entire book of Proverbs sure about what he was writing? Is that even possible?

Growing up with two siblings who’re quite close age wise , it’s difficult to imagine that kind of a situation. I always thought I’d have them forever no matter what, so there’s no place for this  ‘ friend who sticks closer than a brother’ right? I mean why would you need them? Where do they fit in?

But yeah then life ,as we call it, happened- then we went to boarding schools, we went to college and we’re working in different countries and continents. And then these people happen to you- the kind of people you can just look at in the eye and burst out laughing together, the kind of people who’ll eat the rest of your food if you’re not fast enough, who might just squeeze into your bed with you even though you’re really not considering accommodating them at the moment. They’re the ones you run to or call up when  you want to vent, who you’ll know will always lend a shoulder even if they’re bony and not so comfortable, the ones who’ll sing to whatever you strum on the guitar even if it is not tuned and then criticize you for it. Those are the ‘friends who stick closer than a brother’- the ones who’ll kill for you.

I’ve been blessed enough to have  a  few of those gems in my life as well, so close they make my biological siblings quite jealous I must say, and today when I looked at Whatsapp and people updating their statuses with pictures of their besties, and not so besties  and so on, I sat down for a bit in the middle of all the madness I’m regularly surrounded with, to just thank the Lord for the people in my life. The ones who totally make it worth the while. The ones I’d like to go all the way down this long journey of life with, the ones I can bug for eternity and not have to apologize for it- the people who stick closer than brothers/sisters.

And there’s one thing I know for sure- the reason we stick so close together is only because of a greater love- the love of Christ. His love compels us and without Him there is no love. He sticks to us the closest, no matter what.

As we celebrate friendship day and week and whatever else they call it , lets all take that time to thank God for those few precious people in our lives- the ones we can just be ourselves with. And lets look to Him – the source of all Love.

The Growth Chart

Have you grown lately?

When you ask a supposedly ‘grown up’ adult in her late twenties that question, it strikes a nerve. It’s definitely a different reaction from when I ask the  mothers in my clinic if their babies have been growing well. They smile, I frowned. My first reaction was ‘Uhm, excuse me?!…(mind goes blank….)’.All I could think was ‘ Well, I’m growing older and maybe a little heavier!’

So I sat down and thought through this and that’s what got the wheels in my head running and hence the beginning of this blog.

Celebrating my birthday recently, and falling sick immediately after, forcing me to be off work for a bit, gave me some time to think about the eventful past one and a half years. From being super thrilled and excited about being able to pursue a postgraduation in a specialty that is quite close to my heart in one of the best medical colleges in the country along with my closest friends, I was pretty sure I was right where God really wanted me to be at that moment and nothing could possibly go wrong now. That was the peak of all ‘growth’ at that point for me according to close friends and family.

Well little did I know that the journey was going to be quite a roller coaster ride. Over the past year and a half, I’ve struggled with tuberculosis, an ankle sprain, a heartbreak and most recently a really bad eye infection that visually impaired me for atleast  two weeks straight. Six months of daily medication and struggling with nausea and weird appetite patterns, almost a week of complete immoblisation because of pain and swelling on my ankle and two weeks of a near blinding experience forcing me to stay in the darkness of my room and now you ask me ‘Have you grown lately?’

Mmmm..my folks would say these are the things that retard progress, that set you back, that weaken your faith. “Are you sure you’re on the right track? Is this what you really want?”

But as I ponder over it, I must say I’ve grown and there is scope for more growth.

‘ Really?? In terms of what ?’ You ask me.

In terms of faith and trust in a most Loving and benevolent God.In terms of complete surrender to His plans knowing He knows best. In all the pain and confusion, at that moment  when I coughed out blood and even though I’m a doctor the best I could do was collapse into tears because it freaked the life out of me, when I felt that physical pain in my chest because of a friend who carelessly broke my heart and I couldn’t sleep for nights together, during the times when I was literally disabled because I couldn’t see ,let alone open my eyes to look at light, I’ve felt the loving arms of the Lord around me, His providence and His very Presence.

So yes, I’ve grown lately- Grown to increasingly trust and love this God who’s my Maker, Grown to learn to completely surrender my times into His hands, Grown to let Him take the wheel and Grown to rejoice in the Lord no matter what my immediate situations look like and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s definitely been painful, but I believe I’m a stronger person because now I’ve nothing to fall back on except Jesus who saved me and that’s more than enough. I’m still in the process of growing, there’s definitely scope for more and I for one can’t wait to witness it myself.

So while I thank you for enduring till the end of this little testimony, may I ask you to think about it- Have you grown lately? What do you think?