I sat at the railway station , waiting for the already delayed train that was running by the IST( Indian Stretchable Time, as most of us know it). The regular buzz of activity at the station- relatives, not-so-related-ives, vendors, porters, children, mothers, fathers , and the rest of a tiny bit of India’s booming population continued. The familiar stench of urine mixed with the smell of vada and chai drifting along with the evening breeze( for what is an Indian railway station without that smell!) reaching everyone on that platform, affecting none. As I continued staring out onto the empty platform across the railway tracks, a gush of wind blew in and this girl , maybe around six years of age, came into the frame riding her pink and white bicycle, laughing hysterically as the wind blew through her long curly hair with her younger brother chasing her on foot. Such a sight! How happy and carefree, I thought. Her laughter penetrated through the noise on the opposite platform. Oh to be able to be that carefree, I wished. To just feel the wind in my hair and face. And laugh, loud and uninhibited- the kind that started from the heart and reached the eyes!
I continued to look and smile till the shrill whistle of the train I was supposed to get on pierced the air, and the people around me started getting busy again.
I was taking a break from work and going home- for almost 2 weeks. Yes, you heard me right- I said I took a break- a good long one- yes, the workaholic me, the person who feels more exhausted with a holiday than if she was working. And no, I wasn’t in any sort of crisis. Also no, I wasn’t going home to get married in secret. I’d just reached the end of my battery, I needed a recharge. I needed to zoom out of the microscopic picture that is just me and work and the mountains and hurdles I see before me that have not moved much, to see the bigger picture that is the rest of my life, family and what God requires of me.
Going home, to a traditional South Indian, more specifically, a malayalee home, when you’re in your late twenties and you’re still single and you have different aspirations with your life other than just procreating or making money or satisfying the whims and fancies of every single soul around you, and when you have competitive cousins and relatives you don’t relate to, is like walking into a preheated oven- you either come out baked or burnt- depending on how you handle the heat. So that was my state of affairs. But I held on. It wasn’t easy, not at all. The questions weren’t simple, the worry was genuine, the nights weren’t peaceful, the tears were real, the storm raged on…
Somehow we feel the need to perform- or rather outperform, the need to fall in line with the rest of the ‘society’ and the ‘culture’ and whatever looks good to the uncle next door. But here’s what my learning has been. When you’ve taken a step forward into following Christ, you’ll have to leave behind everything you thought was your security. Everything. Even the uncle next door who thinks he’s got it right. Peter had to leave his net and boat behind to become a fisher of men. Matthew had to leave his tax collector’s pen and pad and office behind to collect and save souls from hellfire. Saul had to leave his learning, his culture and all the values he held so dear behind to become Paul. You’ll have to empty yourself so He can fill you to overflowing to be used by Him. It’s crystal clear. He cares nothing about the timelines and the boundaries and the price tags society has put for you. He cares nothing about your degrees or your achievements or how well you can boast about either.
He cares for your surrender.
So one of those sleepless nights at home, I sat on the terrace, staring at the starlit night sky, questioning myself as to whether I’ve done the right thing in letting go of every ‘security’ I could have had by worldly standards, and taking hold of the Hand that was pierced for me into this world of medical missions , or should I have just stayed back at home within my comfort zone in the first place and spared everyone all this heartache and spared myself these sleepless nights wondering when the door in this dark hallway will open shining light on the next step forward.
And in the silence of the night, interrupted only by the sound of the questions in my head and the chirping of the cricket who somehow has found a place for itself in our house, the answer was clear- there was no mistake. The picture of that little girl riding her cycle with her hair blowing out and the wind in her face and her laughter ringing of sheer delight came back to me. And the Voice of the One who has knit me together in my mother’s womb spoke- ” Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” (1Peter 5:6 MSG)
The questions are still not simple, the tears are still real, the nights may be as long as the day, the storms might still be lashing on- but may the song in your heart never cease. The song of praise. Praise in the storm.
“If the world from you withholds of its silver and its gold,
And you have to get along with meager fare,
Just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird;
Take your burden to the Lord, leave it there.
Leave it there, leave it there,
Just take your burden to the Lord oh and leave it there.
If you trust him through your doubt, He will surely bring you out.
Take your burden to the Lord, leave it there.” ( Leave it there- Charles A. Tindley)
Can we live carefree before God knowing He’s most careful about us? Can we surrender all?