MAKE WAY MAKE ROOM

orlova-maria-379689.jpg“Today I threw out some old stuff to make room for some new Christmas presents. May God help us to get rid of the junk & clutter in our lives to make room for the gifts & blessings He wants to give us!” – Jason Powell

It is a normal practice in many households to schedule in a time of cleaning and cleansing just before the end of an old year and the beginning of the new year. A day or two is usually set apart to segregate old, unwanted stuff and whitewash or repaint the home and re-arrange it in a fresh new way. The new year sees the family dressed in new finery in a fresh new home offering thanks to God for the new beginning.

Every time we draw close to the end of an year and stand on the threshold of a new, we need to do a similar cleaning and cleansing of ourselves. We need to empty out the junk, scrape out the layers, let go of the unwanted and throw out the baggage that has grown and accumulated in the past year(s).

We need to refurbish ourselves, restore our beings, replenish our store and recover some things that have been lost. We need to recover ourselves in newness, out and in, so that the new year will indeed be a new beginning and a fresh new start.

We need to let go of old wounds, redundant thoughts, lingering hurtful memories, etc. We must divest ourselves of past hurts, wrongs, unforgiveness, bitterness, malice and vengeance. We must put away wrong notions, let go of grievances, forgive the past, kick out the negatives in our lives.

As we unclutter our minds, empty out our inner closets, cleanse our sanctum sactorum and junk out all that is clogging us, we make way for the new, the right, the fresh and the blessing.

We make room for new resolutions of love, peace joy, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, longsuffering and self-control.

We refurbish ourselves by scrapping away the scabs of old wounds, cleanse ourselves with the blood of the Lamb, wash everything by His Word, refill & replenish with the Spirit’s unction.

We allow the darkness of rejection & retrenchment to seep out and the light of His love & acceptance flood our souls with brand new energy and power.

We  give space to clothe ourselves with garments of thanksgiving, praise & worship, adorn ourselves with the beauty of holiness, empower ourselves with a meek & a quiet spirit, and overflow with mercy and grace as the real people of God, community of faith and true human beings.

In the Bible, we see that the nation of Israel had a Jubilee year once in 50 years, a sabbatical year once in 7 years and each year, a month and week of reconciliation with man & God. They would forgive & be forgiven of wrongs, let go of debts, restore relationships and finally, reconcile as individuals, families, community and nation, with one another and then with God. They would have a time of joyful feasting and enduring fellowship to seal it all.

Most churches too set apart the 3 last days of the year for a time of prayer and preparation, to help prepare for the new year.

As we say goodbye to 2017, let us let go and cleanse ourselves from everything that would burden us.

May we welcome the new year of 2018 with lightened hearts, encouraged minds & healthy bodies and make way for the new by putting away the old!

*Photo by Ashim D’Silva & by Orlova Maria on Unsplash
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BEHIND SCENE

The other day, during a teaching-discussion session, an ex-military officer pointed out a very pertinent but often-forgotten fact. In the defence services, a soldier in the front needs the support of team of 10-15 others. These would include the ones who cook his food & provide water, take care of his vestments, maintain his weapons & vehicles, care for his health, provide his family with essential life necessities and such like. It is this faithful team, serving quietly and obtrusively, that ensures the warrior out guarding the nation on land, sea & air does so with a clear and focused mind, unclouded by other cares of civilian life!

It is this battalion of unsung heroes, selflessly serving, often without thanks, doggedly and unstintingly, day after day, working behind scenes that ensure the fitness and form of the soldier at all levels at all times at all locations.

In any arena of life, the success and failure of a task/work/project depends on the back office or the back up team. In any drama or play or movie etc., the real worker bees are the ones who toil behind scenes, many times placing their life on the line or in danger, enduring long hours and even amidst personal discomfort. In any private or public meeting or concert or event, the real often-forgotten stars are those who toil in the background with no recognizable star presence. Leave them out of the picture and you end up with chaos!

In any church program, crusade, mission, outreach, etc., the ones who pray tirelessly, cater tables, serve the weak & helpless are the numerous unseen ministers of faith and the faithful. Any church leader, who doesn’t have a team of co-workers backing him/her in prayer, sharing their sorrows or pain, giving a listening ear in their down times, lending their families a helping hand, being at their beck and call as dependable, supportive, trusted partners in the vision, is prone to failure and faltering!

This group may never share a stage, ever be in the spotlight, have no media or be missing on the social media. Yet they are the backbone and the supporting pillars of the work of God and the building of His Kingdom. Remove or neglect them and you will have the whole superstructure of the work falling apart, literally!

It is this team, including patiently sacrificing family members, that would need acknowledgement, acclaim and account, above all and this is the one that may never get its praise. This team doesn’t usually need a very ebullient demonstration of gratitude, for many of them have a retiring dispositions and shrink from publicity. They just need a token of thanks & care – a kind word, a grateful handshake, an appreciative pat, a loving hug and a well-done-I-am-aware-of-your-worth look!

After a recent outreach event, while posting an online pictorial account, I found to my dismay that I didn’t have any record of those who undertook the backstage tasks. I rued the fact that all I had was the means to tag their names on it as an acknowledgement of their invisible presence and hidden teamwork.

I have been part of such a backseat work and so do know firsthand the need for and the impact of approbation. Nothing would so encourage and enable me to continue the good work as a well-done-you-hidden-hero applause or comment!

In case an appreciation was not tendered, like David, I would motivate myself by remembering John Milton’s famous poem that honors ‘those who stand and wait’!

*Photo courtesy http://www.infinitiwellbeing.com/images/largebackstage.jpg and https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/4/14/1271262587900/Roadies-working-a-gig-001.jpg?w=700&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=620b2b3860c3a1660514b8cd052c8362

DEPARTURES & ARRIVALS

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A few days ago, I was returning from a funeral and pondering about the quick way a life just passes on – one minute here and the next gone. I was thinking about how a person is here and is suddenly gone away, not there any more.

Just then my car happened to be passing the airport and I watched a flight land and another take off. Suddenly it struck me – life is full of arrivals and departures. We watch loved ones take off one day to another destination and another day we welcome another loved one come in from a different place.

The thing with departures and arrivals is that, while we receive with joy an incoming one, we stand by with some pain watching an outgoing one. We are excited and watching the skies and the boards for signs of arrival. We stand by wistfully, hoping to somehow delay a departing one.

Why is this so? Why this contrast when they are, after all, in both cases leaving one place and reaching another? The reason is that in one case, our ranks swell, our numbers increase and there is addition; while in the other, our ranks deplete, our numbers lessen and there is indeed a subtraction!

Its not that they are lost, but its just that they are not physically present with us. We know in our minds that they are indeed safe and enjoying new life, yet our hearts throb with their absence, the lack of the physical presence. We feel left behind, lost and alone, unable to share in that life.

In the case of arrivals, we are excited about the newness of it all and the way the new one will change our lives. We are physical beings and so physical presence does make great inroads into our existence here on planet earth.

However, in the case of departures, often the one leaving is generally so excited and filled with the wonder of starting a new life, facing new challenges, the sights to see, the people to meet and cultivate, the new opportunities that will be available etc, that they seem to forget us who will be staying back. In fact, it may look like that they are insensitive to our pain and longing!

Its not so and its indeed good that the newness will occupy them and we have to let them be so. Its that expectancy that will make them carry them over the loss of our presence and help them settle in the new life. Otherwise, they will feel bereft in the new life and will not progress on!

Even so, births and deaths make an impact on the routine of day-to-day mundanity and monotony of life. There is no denying that, whether its a newborn or a demise, both stir up and cause a whirl in the steady stream of our life. In both cases, we have to adjust and realign ourselves to the change they bring. Of course, a birth is often (but not always) is preferable over a death (again most often but not always).

Yet, if we but really pause to think, contemplate and understand, we would see that the departing one is actually going to live a more fuller, more satisfying and more fulfilling life. This thought is the one that would enable us to bear with our loss, our pain and our anguish – that our loved one is in a better place, better environment and a more profitable (for them) location. In sensing and seeing their relief, release and realization, we can lay aside our grief and carry on, waiting eagerly for us to be together again.

It will be only a short time before we are reunited together. It is this thought that would/should energize us to carry on and complete our race. May we take strength from this and of course, with the arrivals who will sweeten the remainder of our time!

Even as I write this, I can say that the family that lost its loved one is doing exactly the same. A baby in the family is proving to be the succor and the comfort that eases the pain of the absence of the departed one!

In conclusion, let me note that in an airport the departure area comes before the arrival one and even so in life!

© Sabina Tagore Immanuel

*Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

REBUILDING BABEL

​Babel is the site of multiplication of languages, the ensuing confusion and the dispersion that followed.  Babel is synonymous with “a confused mixture of sounds, voices, or languages; a confused assembly, and the origin of the word ‘babbling’.

Babel is also the site of man’s declaration and effort to ‘make a name for ourselves’. Dictionary defines this as being famous, well known, celebrated, prominent, popular, acclaimed, honored, exalted, much publicized etc.

Today, more than any time before, there exists a frenzy, an insane urgency to be well-known, advertised, promoted, celebrated, influential, accepted, acknowledged, advanced, etc. This is driving us to heights of selfishness, self-centredness and self-aggrandizement.

This narcissism is stripping us of all that makes us humans, the crown of creation and the image of God, compelling us to degenerate to the lowest level of satisfying animal instincts. One has to only note the increase of crimes against and abuse of the weak and lowly (children, women, elderly, infirm, downtrodden, etc) to bear witness to this.

It is making us strip our children of their appropriate seasons of growth, play and freedom to push them ahead into the rat race. We don’t understand that they could bloom too early and fade away too soon, like hothouse roses. One has only to watch the plethora of reality shows targeting kids to perceive this.

It is causing us to be impatient of the meek, inconsiderate of the weak, insistent with those who seek, imperative with the least and intolerant of most. In our race for the crown, we run roughshod over and uproot, not the weeds but the wheat. One has to only read of the increase of depression, suicides, emotional wrecks, drug abuse, promiscuity etc., to attest to this.

Its time to pause and take stock of it all, weigh the pros and cons, think through the issues, decide wisely, rest awhile, relax a moment, walk a mile, be content. Its time to choose not to be wildfires, wasting all before us but respect life as humans!

*Pic courtesy: https://kidsbiblestoriess.blogspot.in/2012/07/kids-bible-story-of-building-of-tower.html

IT’S A MATTER OF CHOICE

Two incidents that happened simultaneously – certain people missing an event they were invited to and certain other people taking a course of action not conducive to their own betterment – paused me to ponder. The common excuse we satisfy ourselves with is: Maybe they were not meant to be there or do that! 

There is, of course, an element of truth in it, but most often such thoughts or words are an outlet, a way of consoling ourselves, a patting of our backs and a dealing with our keen sense of loss. We tend to forget that everything is a matter of choice rather than a force of circumstance!

Our choices determine who we are and what we do. Our choices determine who we want to be or what we want to do. Our choices make us or mar us, for life!

Sure there are times when our circumstances are not under our control, but even then there is an element of choice – how we react or act to or in such circumstances. We readily forget that every action & reaction sets in motion ripples of effect that are quietly impact, not just our life but all relationships we are part of!

Freewill is the most invaluable creation gift uniquely bestowed on mankind and on no other. How we use this free gift determines who we become, what we do, where we will be, when we will achieve etc.

Life sure does have its ups and downs. Life often does seem partial. Yet, even when it strews our way with sticks and stones, we still can use them to build or destroy.Choice is ours!

True wisdom is to acknowledge and take responsibility for our lives, not lose hope but work with all that comes our way, uniquely weaving the black & white into the tapestry of our life, making a masterpiece of creation!

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TRENDING PASTURES

Wealth doesn't mean wealthy,
Riches don't denote richness.
Property mayn't ensure prosperity,
Finance won't imply freedom.
Provision can't provide perspective,
These are but evanescent!

Affluence accounts but won't give access,
Gifts goad but may not impart grace.
Income induces but can't instill interest,
Equity excites but doesn't extend existence.
Valuables vouch but don't add value,
These are but fleeting!

Investment incubates increase,
Money multiplies millions.
Treasure transcends treason, 
Gold garners glitters.
Bond brings bliss,
These are but froth!

Savings can't give salvation,
Assets ensure not assurance.
Deposits don't deny death,
Policies won't guarantee painless.
Accounts communicate not accountability,
These are but transient!

All that is lasting,
All that makes free
All that satisfies,
All that substantiates,
All that is corrosion-free,
There is but one thing to do!

Search for them as hidden treasures,
Run after them in fearless vestures
Pursue them with ceaseless measures,
Strive in them as rousing ventures
Persevere in spite of constant pressures,
They are but the only lasting structures!

PROV 2:4 & COL 3:1-3

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS 

Made pancakes this morning for breakfast and Chettinad vatha kuzhlambu, from scratch.

I am not proficient in either of these and so followed the step-by-step method given on the internet. Thank God for Google!

The most important instruction that was given for the pancakes was: YOU MUST FOLLOW THE RECIPE EXACTLY TO GET FLUFFY, TASTY PANCAKES!

Thus got me thinking and yes, mulling!

When it comes to technical processes, management steps, chemical formulae, manual instructions and cooking recipes, we are masters in following them exactly and intrinsically to achieve great results. Good for us!

However, when it comes to following rhe Good Book, as the Bible is known, we dither and mutter, we dilly and dally, we argue and compromise, we tweak a little here and cheat a little there and then except results!

When we fail, we blame the Master Architect of the WHOLE  UNIVERSE and take Him to task for our woes! Nothing anywhere goes wrong with the natural world and everything goes like clockwork, unless we have intervened and messed it up in some way somewhere.

Funny, isn’t it? Tragic too, for instead of running to Him to help, we run away from Him who can actually fix it all and set it!

ITS LIKE TELLING THE MASTERCHEF THAT HE OR HIS RECIPE IS WRONG, WHEN ITS OUR FAULTY IMPLEMENTATION THAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE!

*Btw, the pictures are from the internet and not my creations. I was too busy following instructions to take pictures!